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Biodefense Program in Galveston, TX Sacrifices Research for Public Safety

Jamey Hecht, PhD

Senior Staff Writer

© Copyright 2005, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 -- FTW contacted Lee H. Thompson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Thompson also serves as Director for Biosafety and Containment Facilities at the University’s Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, a Level 4 research lab. He assured this reporter that “all the animals have been euthanized, and all the pathogenic microorganisms have been neutralized.” As its website indicates, UCBE maintains access to “a high intensity gamma irradiator allowing inactivation of samples for further analysis outside the BSL4 laboratory.”

The Galveston facility is one of only six Level 4 labs, which conduct research on the most dangerous microorganisms known to science. Designated “Category A” pathogens, these include bacterial diseases like plague, anthrax, smallpox, and tularemia, and the major viral hemorrhagic fevers: dengue, Marburg, Ebola, and others.

William H. Gimson, Chief Operating Officer at the Centers for Disease Control, could not be reached for comment.

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