Feb. 8, 2002

Lab looks into expansion of biodetection capabilities

The Laboratory is exploring the possibility of adding new facilities to expand its role in the area of biological science and biodetection.

"Experiments on a wider array of microorganisms will not only help the Lab further develop much-needed biodetection capabilities, but learn more about emerging diseases," said Page Stoutland, R Division deputy director. Stoutland is leading a cross-Laboratory team on the project.

The new laboratories would be designed to operate as a biosafety level three facility. LLNL has operated biosafety level one and two facilities on site for many years. Adding more labs would allow Lab scientists to build upon existing DNA signature work for anthrax and plague, as well as the study of additional bioagents such as Valley Fever and Tularemia.

The need for increased biodetection capabilities is a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. DNA signature work has led to Lab technologies such as the Handheld Advanced Nuclei Acid Analyzer (HANAA) and the Autonomous Pathogen Detection System (APDS), both of which can be used to rapidly and accurately test for various airborne pathogens. The expanded facilities would not only allow Lab researchers to continue their work with DNA signatures, but to more accurately test engineering prototypes such as APDS and HANAA.|

The project team is still exploring a number of design ideas — including the remodel of current labs or a new building. It is thought that the new facility would be approximately 1,000 square feet and contain three laboratories.