NIH Dedicates the C.W. Bill Young Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases

A new building focused on research on infectious diseases of global importance those that occur naturally or that may be caused by agents intentionally released through an act of bioterrorism was dedicated yesterday on the Bethesda, Md. campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In an afternoon ceremony in a tent outside the new facility, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), for whom the building is named, was honored for his support of biomedical research at NIH throughout his three-decade congressional career. Young is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. In addition to Young, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt, Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), participated in the program marking the event. Approximately 300 invited guests, including family members and friends of Young, attended.

It is fitting that we are dedicating this building to Congressman Young because of his stalwart faith in the public health mission of NIH and his concern for the people. says Zerhouni.

Fauci says, We are profoundly grateful for Chairman Youngs unwavering support of biomedical research. The great challenge of research on emerging infectious diseases is that it requires persistence: as we make progress in our fight against older infectious disease threats, new ones emerge, such as HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus or avian influenza. In addition, diseases we thought had been nearly vanquished, such as malaria, sometimes re-emerge. We also recognize the potential threat of bioterrorism. We cannot become complacent. This new research center will enable us to conduct important fundamental research and to more vigorously carry out our mission to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to protect the American people and the world against significant infectious diseases.

Construction of the C. W. Bill Young Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases began in November 2003 and was completed in December 2005. Since that time, all systems in the building have been undergoing multiple rigorous tests that are required before the building is officially commissioned. Testing and activation of the building is expected to be completed by the summer of 2006, enabling research and other employees from NIAID to move in. When fully operational, the C.W. Bill Young Center will house approximately 250 laboratory, administrative and support staff.

The cost of the total project the 84,000net-square-foot research building and the associated 1,250-car garage was $182.6 million dollars. The four-story state-of-the-art research building includes biosafety level 2 and 3 (BSL-2 and BSL-3) laboratories and animal care areas, conference rooms and offices. The Center will enable NIAID to expand and consolidate the following existing research programs:

-- Respiratory viruses such as influenza and avian influenza viruses

-- Respiratory bacteria such as multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and anthrax bacteria

-- Insect-borne viruses such as West Nile and dengue viruses

-- Immunology of infectious diseases

-- Development of vaccines for infectious diseases

The building design is flexible, notes Kathryn C. Zoon, PhD, director of NIAIDs Division of Intramural Research. As priorities in infectious disease research change, as they inevitably will, we can realign the space allocated to the different research programs located in the facility, she says.

The C.W. Bill Young Center has multiple layers of security and safety in place. The facility is located within the secured perimeter of the campus, set back from both internal NIH and public access roads. The structure is reinforced to withstand explosive blasts. Areas requiring higher levels of security are located in the center of the building. Secured electronic access systems control right-of-way entry throughout the facility. The BSL-3 laboratories are negative air pressure suites with air-lock doors. Exhaust air passes through high efficiency particular air (HEPA) filters. Researchers working in the BSL-3 laboratory areas are required to wear specialized personal protective equipment. And special procedures exist for decontaminating all biowaste produced in the facility.

NIAID already has approximately 4,700 net square feet of actively used BSL-3 space. The Center will add 14,300 net square feet of BSL-3 laboratory space to the campus and enable more sophisticated research studies in infectious diseases.

Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH)