The University of Missouri Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR) is a Regional Biocontainment Laboratory located on the MU-Columbia campus. LIDR is a critical resource for University of Missouri faculty and collaborating scientists who perform research on infectious diseases and is part of our nation’s effort to protect public health. Built to the highest state and federal safety standards, this building aids researchers in the discovery and development of new ways to fight bacterial and viral infections.
LIDR includes biosafety research laboratories and associated research-support areas. LIDR is one of 13 similar structures in the United States, each built with partial federal grant support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to fulfill a critical need for improved research space and educational programs that allow safe handling and containment of biohazards. In addition, the LIDR presents a resource for local and regional health officials in the event of an infectious disease outbreak in the United States.
LIDR was initiated in 2003 with funds awarded through a competitive grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Design and construction began in the fall of 2006 and the building received certification from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and became operational in 2010. LIDR houses 10,000 net sq. feet of state-of-the-art laboratories for infectious disease research at biosafety levels (BSL) – 2 and -3. LIDR is designed to protect researchers and the environment from any release of biohazards. Access to the LIDR is strictly controlled, limited to a small number of MU faculty, staff and students. Access to the LIDR requires initial and ongoing comprehensive training in handling biohazards as well as a requirement for a security background check.
Frequently asked questions
Research on infectious diseases requires a very specialized facility. The facility must be built to complex specifications for design, facilities, operations, maintenance, and operating procedures that ensure a high level of containment, or “biocontainment” since researchers are working with biological materials. Laboratories that are designed for research on infectious diseases are classified into four categories, BSL-1 through BSL-4. While much of the infectious diseases research is done in laboratories with BSL-1 and -2 capabilities, a BSL-3 laboratory is required to provide a safe environment for work with agents associated with serious human disease, especially those that can cause illness by spreading through the air. A BSL-3 laboratory is designed to protect researchers and has special engineering features in the air and waste handling systems to prevent microorganisms from being disseminated into the environment. Researchers who use the BSL-3 laboratories have thorough training in handling hazardous infectious agents. Access to BSL-3 laboratories is strictly controlled. Regional Biocontainment Laboratories are BSL-3 laboratories built as part of a federally funded program through the National Institutes of Health. RBLs are intended to support BSL-3 research for investigators in academia and industry nationwide.
MU researchers and collaborating scientists study a variety of bacterial pathogens at the LIDR. The goal of these studies is to develop drugs, treatments and vaccines to combat these microorganisms so that they no longer pose a threat to public health. Some of the organisms studied within the LIDR are dangerous if not handled properly. Therefore, the facility is specifically designed and built to meet and exceed stringent federal safety standards to protect researchers and the community from these organisms.
All research at the LIDR must be approved by the University of Missouri Institutional Biosafety Committee, some of which is also subject to approval by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New research protocols must first be reviewed and approved by the LIDR Biosafety Officer before being submitted to the MU IBC. Approximately 3-6 months may be required to obtain approval for new research initiatives at the LIDR.
The facility is owned and operated by MU via the Office of Research. Local oversight is provided by the MU Responsible Official, Institutional Biosafety Committee and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Federal oversight is provided by the Centers for Disease Control, Office for Biotechnology Affairs and Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare.
The facility is constructed within a secured perimeter in accordance with federal standards. Users have to go through multiple check points before they are able to enter the building. There is a secure perimeter and structure, assigned security authorized and trained staff, installation of sophisticated security access and state-of-the-art audit systems that are the cornerstones of the plan to keep the building safe.
Because of the agents involved, a BSL-3 facility is one of the most cautiously designed buildings in the world. The BSL-3 facility is a self-contained unit. It has its own air supplies, filters, power supplies, decontamination and waste disposal systems. All critical systems are built with redundancy so that back-up units are available and ready for use in the event that primary units fail to operate. For example, the air that comes out of the building is filtered through high efficiency particle filters within a particular laboratory and the air from the entire building undergoes additional high-level filtration to ensure the organism does not escape the building. In effect, the air that leaves the building is cleaner than the air that enters the building.
Access to LIDR is restricted to those specifically trained and authorized to enter the facility. In special cases, visitors are granted building access under escort.