VIB and UGent open new building for air-borne pathogen research

To meet the increasing demand for adapted lab infrastructure, VIB (the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology) and UGent are opening their new research building in Zwijnaarde's Tech Lane Ghent Science Park. The building's new BioSafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility will allow for experimental research on air-borne pathogens that could cause the next pandemic in the future.

What makes the new research building unique is the presence of a so-called BioSafety Level 3 or BSL-3 facility, for research on air-borne pathogens. Thanks to special ventilation and air filtration systems, security measures and adapted cleaning techniques, safety in the laboratory remains assured, allowing research to be carried out without risk. And that is important, because the corona crisis made research into airborne pathogens a social priority. 

"The state-of-the-art facilities take our research capabilities to a much higher level, both for high-biosecurity work as needed for our influenza and coronavirus research, as well as for high-tech bioanalytical instrumentation," said Nico Callewaert, director of the VIB-UGent Centre For Medical Biotechnology.

The research building is 15,000 m² big and will accommodate 200 new researchers. It also features an animalarium for the care of laboratory animals and brand new greenhouses for plant research. The proximity of other research centres and supporting technical services should ensure better collaboration between different research areas. 

"The BSL-3 facility paves the way for specialised research on air-borne diseases such as Covid-19. Today, that is pre-eminently a research area with social importance that cannot be underestimated. I can only welcome this kind of development," said Jo Brouns, Flemish minister for Science and Innovation.




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