Virology Facility Banner 2018Starting as a centralized BSL2+ laboratory in 1989, over the years, the Virology Facility has evolved around two primary activities: (i) the provision of campus-wide laboratory infrastructure for BSL2+ research and (ii) the provision of services that facilitate the research adapted to the needs of our CFAR members. The Virology Facility is a component of the new CFAR Basic Research Core to provide access for CFAR members to a fully equipped laboratory infrastructure for BSL2+ research. Provision of access to this infrastructure starts with initial biosafety training and training in fundamental HIV methods. As CFAR members gain access to the BSL2+ facilities, the Virology Facility monitors ongoing operation to assure biological safety compliance as mandated by NIH guidelines and UAB Biosafety regulations. Optimal operation is assured by continuous maintenance activities, which includes equipment and facility maintenance.

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  • Provision of state-of-the-art BSL 2-3 laboratory space, equipment, and professional staff. The Virology Facility enables CFAR members to conduct research important to the understanding of HIV biology, pathogenesis, immunological response, intervention, prevention, and assay development. The BSL 2-3 facility, including all of the major equipment, is made available to its users.
  • Education and training for “live” HIV virus studies. A committed, highly skilled professional staff is also available providing comprehensive education and training in areas of laboratory safety, equipment utilization, virus cell culture, and virologic assays to support basic and clinical research. This is all conducted under strict adherence to NIH/CDC guidelines for safety.
  • Provision of defined research reagents and materials. The facility maintains and provides on an as needed basis, research materials/reagents including an extensive inventory of defined cells line, primary and clonal virus stocks, including newly derive “transmitted viruses”, proviral DNA, HIV-specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies that are applicable to several different assays including immunofluorescence, radioimmunoprecipitation, immunoblot, and flow cytometry, and numerous relevant recombinant DNAs. The facility also provides the necessary instruction for utilization of these reagents.
  • Support of multidisciplinary and translation research projects. The BSL 2-3 Laboratory has been highly successful fostering basic and translational research in multidisciplinary AIDS-related fields, including inter-institutional programmatic efforts and diverse investigator-initiated grants in areas of molecular virology, physiology, immunology, mucosal immunology, neurology, geographical medicine and international health.
  • Development of new research tools for basic, clinical and translational HIV/AIDS research. Knowledgeable staff are also available to assist with the development of new research tools, such as assays and reagents, for HIV/AIDS-related studies conducted by users. 



  • Biosafety training and BSL 2-3 Laboratory certification. The BSL 2-3 Laboratory administers a comprehensive education and training program in biosafety. Those seeking services for use of the BSL 2-3 containment laboratory to conduct live HIV/AIDS research are trained for “full certification”, enabling them to work independently with ongoing monitoring.
  • Safety controls and quality assurance assessments. All individuals once qualified to work in the facility, are assessed and monitored for compliance. Failure to comply with appropriate corrective action measures or repeated infractions would lead to the loss of core access privileges.
  • Training in virologic assays, techniques, and methods. Training provided by experts includes general methodologies such as HIV cell culture and virus propagation in cell lines, HIV-1 isolation from blood, infectious virus titration on various cell types, viral and cellular nucleic acid isolation, immunofluorescence analysis, staining for FACS analysis, and ELISA.
  • Training of participants involved in international HIV/AIDS Programs. Training for participants involved in International programs through UAB can receive first-hand training by the core in techniques such as, basic biocontainment sample processing, good laboratory safety practices, PCR and HIV-1 p24 ELISA for studies conducted at UAB International sites such as CIDRZ in Zambia.


Facility Leader
John Kappes, PhD
Christina Ochsenbauer, PhD
Lyons Harrison Research Building, Room 610
701 19th Street South
Birmingham AL 35294-0007