SEBLAB Facility Intro ImageThe University of Alabama at Birmingham (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 $600 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 Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded 12 contracts to build Regional Biocontainment Laboratories (RBLs). UAB was fortunate enough to receive one of the awards and used it to build the Southeastern Biosafety Laboratory Alabama Birmingham (SEBLAB). 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.


SEBLAB Built in 2008. Started operations in 2009. Cost $32 million in both State and NIH funds. Regional biocontainment laboratory (RBL) member. Total space is 43,688 GSF.

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 (BSL2) and level 3 (BSL3) laboratories as well as animal biosafety level 3 (ABSL3) laboratories. SEBLAB's design includes flexible and secure laboratories, animal housing and procedure space, and laboratory support space.

Specialized resources at SEBLAB include:

  1. Glas-Col Inhalation Exposure System
  2. Nanolive CX-A real-time live cell imaging workstation
  3. Biotech Cytation 5 cell imaging multi-mode reader
  4. Agilent Seahorse XFp extracellular flux bioenergetics analyzer
  5. Vaporized H2O2 decontamination capability
  6. Decontamination chamber for specialized equipment

In the event of a bioterrorism emergency, SEBLAB can provide surge capacity for diagnostics and other necessary analyses to enhance public health responses. SEBLAB enables UAB to expand its current research efforts into emerging infectious diseases and to support state and local health agencies. Additionally, the facility enables researchers to develop collaborative studies with colleagues, both nationally and internationally.


SEBLAB Ground Floor Labs: Special Access BSL2 LaboratoryThe University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) constructed the Southeastern Biosafety Laboratory Alabama Birmingham (SEBLAB) to eliminate the lack of available biocontainment space on the UAB campus hindering UAB investigators with distinguished records in virology, bacterial pathogenesis, immunology, and vaccine development. With SEBLAB, UAB investigators are now able to bring their skills to bear on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and other issues directly relevant to biodefense and emerging infectious disease, concentrating on National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) priority pathogens.

Ongoing research in SEBLAB, includes studies in contained and filtered benchtop, biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratories and studies with animals, animal biosafety level 3 (ABSL3), in similarly contained, filtered, and specialized holding areas. The ultimate research goals of these projects are to develop methods to disrupt the life cycle of infectious agents and/or to discover new treatments to prevent or combat resulting disease. Achieving these goals requires a thorough understanding of the functional mechanisms of an infectious agent, to which the UAB SEBLAB scientists have dedicated their tireless efforts.

SEBLAB Ground Floor Labs: Restricted Access BSL3 Laboratory SEBLAB Ground Floor Labs: Restricted Access ABSL3 Laboratory

A few examples of SEBLAB research include:

  1. Studies with the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, and animal model development with genetically modified mice, hamsters and ferrets
  2. Studies screening prototype compounds for COVID-19 treatment using cell culture systems
  3. Trials of new efficient vaccines against encephalitogenic alphaviruses
  4. Studies into the mechanisms of alphavirus packaging
  5. Studies into the function and physiological role of protein utilized by M. tuberculosis (Mtb) to secrete toxins
  6. Studies on the mechanisms by which Mtb acquires and utilizes iron
  7. Studies on the influenza virus non-structural protein to understand why some strains cause more disease than others

The above examples illustrate the significant role SEBLAB plays in the fight against dangerous pathogens and the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that in addition to the advanced biosafety engineering controls built into the SEBLAB mechanical systems, all staff with permission to work in SEBLAB are also held to the highest standards of safety. No one is given unrestricted access to work with dangerous pathogens without first completing a series of rigorous training, both online and in person. The online training culminates in a written exam to ensure key points were learned and retained. Following that, staff are mentored on facility- and lab-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) under direct supervision, ensuring containment principles are rigorously followed at all times. After the mentor is confident in their work, Biosafety and/or SEBLAB management representatives observe the staff in containment and determine whether they are ready for unrestricted access. This system of training creates subject matter experts (SMEs) by building skilled teams trained and experienced to deal with infectious agents. SMEs then go on to help transfer knowledge and skills to other scientists and younger researchers through mentoring, as outlined above, or customized hands-on training workshops. Ultimately resulting in the perpetuation of biosafety culture among life sciences and biomedical research professionals.

UAB and SEBLAB recently received a generous grant from NIAID for upgrades to mechanical and HVAC systems. In addition, the grant will fund the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment. The goal is to enable expansion of the existing capabilities of SEBLAB and open more doors for researchers at UAB and across the southeast region.


SEBLAB is available for use by all UAB researchers, other investigators in academia, not-for-profit, industry, and governmental organizations, for studies of biodefense and emerging infectious diseases. The application process for working in SEBLAB includes the SEBLAB management team review of the work, Institutional Biosafety Committee approval, and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Institutional Review Board review, as applicable. Once approved, all persons using the facility must complete comprehensive training tailored to BSL3 containment.

The SEBLAB management team includes:

  1. SEBLAB Director
  2. SEBLAB Biocontainment Facility Manager
  3. Biosafety Officer/Responsible Official (RO) Select Agent Program
  4. Research Safety Manager, Alternate Responsible Official (ARO) Select Agent Program
  5. ARP Manager of Facilities and Standards