UAB is one of America's premier research universities, ranking among the top 25 in funding from the National Institutes of Health and earning more than $400 million per year in extramural contract and grant support. With a world-renowned academic health center and 80 interdisciplinary research centers, UAB's pioneering breakthroughs offer new solutions and new hope for families and communities worldwide
In 2003-2004, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded 13 contracts to build Regional Biocontainment Laboratories (RBLs). The RBLs are designed to support basic research necessary to develop drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for emerging infections and biodefense, and to provide surge capacity in the event of a public health emergency. UAB is part of a consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) known as the Southeastern Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense (SERCEB). This group of six universities will work to develop the next generation of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests against emerging infections such as West Nile Virus, and for defense against organisms such as smallpox that might be used in bioterrorist attacks. Joining UAB in this effort are Duke University, Emory University, the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt University. For more information on regional biocontainment laboratories, visit the NIAID Biodefense Web site or see the NIAID fact sheet, "The Need for Biosafety Laboratory Facilities."
The regional biocontainment laboratory at UAB, called Southeastern Biosafety Laboratory Alabama Birmingham (SEBLAB), was completed in 2008 and fully operational in 2009. Located on the Southside of Birmingham on UAB's campus, SEBLAB is approximately 43,500 square feet. The project cost around $32 million to complete, with construction funding coming from the NIH and state sources.
SEBLAB is a major asset to the research and public health communities in the region. It houses state-of-the art biosafety level 2 and level 3 laboratories as well as animal biosafety level 3 laboratories. SEBLAB's design includes flexible and secure laboratories, animal housing and procedure space, and laboratory support space. Specialized resources at SEBLAB include an aerobiology suite, imaging suite, irradiator, vaporized H2O2 decontamination and a decontamination chamber. In the event of a bioterrorism emergency, SEBLAB can provide surge capacity for diagnostics and other necessary analyses to enhance state and regional public health responses.
UAB already has similar facilities on campus; SEBLAB provides the research community with additional biocontainment space at biosafety level 2 and 3 and additional capacity to area public health departments in times of need. SEBLAB will enable UAB to expand its current research efforts into emerging infectious diseases such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, tularemia, and highly pathogenic avian influenza. The facility permits researchers to develop methods for combating biological agents such as smallpox and anthrax that may be used in terrorist activity. The diagnostic capabilities developed for and through the laboratory will be available to support state and local health agencies. Additionally, the facility enables researchers to develop collaborative studies with colleagues nationally and internationally, which may result in new federal research funding.
Numerous research projects by UAB and other approved investigators will be housed in the SEBLAB. These projects include investigation into new vaccines for smallpox, monkey pox and anthrax. Researchers also will explore the mechanisms by which these and other organisms function with the goal of developing methods to disrupt their life cycle and creating new treatments. Other projects will investigate West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, tularemia, Eastern and Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis, and more. Research results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals available to the public.
USE OF SEBLAB
UAB researchers and other investigators in academia, not-for-profit organizations, industry and government studying biodefense and emerging infectious diseases may request the use of SEBLAB facilities. An oversight committee determines the priority usage of SEBLAB. The oversight committee includes the Assistant Vice President for Animal Research Services, the Director of SEBLAB, the Assistant Dean for Biomedical Research and the Senior Associate Dean for Research from the School of Medicine, as well as the Assistant Vice President for UAB's Department of Occupational Health & Safety and several UAB faculty primary investigators. The application process for working in SEBLAB includes Oversight Committee review of protocol, Institutional Biosafety Committee approval, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Institutional Review Board review and approval if applicable. Once approved, all persons using the facility must complete comprehensive training tailored to exposure potential.