FAQs

What is being studied at the Tufts RBL?

Scientists at the RBL are currently investigating:

  • Bacillus anthracis Ames
  • Botulinum toxins A-G
  • Francisella tularensis and other tick-transmitted infections
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Arboviruses including:
    • Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus
    • Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus
    • Western equine encephalitis (WEE) virus

For more information on these and other BSL-3 pathogens, please see the Pathogens page.

In the affiliated BSL-2 laboratories within the Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, scientists are studying additional pathogens of interest to human health:

  • Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
  • Cryptosporidium spp. (C. parvum, C. hominis, C. meleagridis)
  • Microsporidium spp. (Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon intestinalis)
  • Enteric viruses (astrovirus, rotavirus, norovirus)
  • Clostridium difficile and related toxins
  • Schistosoma spp.

What if I am interested in working with a pathogen that is not currently listed on Tufts RBL website?

Please contact Tufts RBL for more information. The facility can accommodate numerous BSL-3 pathogens.

Can an outside scientist work in the Tufts RBL?

Yes, scientists outside of Tufts can work in the RBL via collaborative research agreements, fee-for-service agreements, or contracts. All research must be in compliance with Tufts training, documentation, regulation, and medical requirements. Please contact the Tufts RBL for more information.

What security plans and safety measures are in place to keep the building safe?

The facility has been carefully constructed according to federal standards as a sophisticated containment facility within a secured perimeter. There are multiple check points required for access to the building and laboratories; redundant operating systems and rigorous training and adherence to safety protocols minimize any potential exposure to infectious agents.

Researchers working in labs are carefully trained to follow approved research protocols and safety measures. Tufts has also worked closely with the community to ensure an emergency response plan in the unlikely event of an accident. Drills are held routinely with local public safety personnel.

For more information, please see the Safety and Security page.

What are the benefits to the local community of having the Tufts RBL in this area?

The Tufts RBL is part of the national biodefense initiative from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve state and local health systems and their cooperation with the federal government in response to a biodefense emergency.

The RBL supports research objectives of scientists at Tufts and the New England area:

  • It provides a public health benefit by ensuring laboratory capacity and experience is available in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.
  • The RBL is a resource to train scientists and support staff in critical and expanding areas, including our country’s health defense.
  • It serves as a local resource for first responders and source of information for the public.
  • It highlights Massachusetts and Tufts as leaders in infectious disease research.

What internal oversight systems are in place?

As with all Tufts University research involving infectious agents, work inside the New England RBL is first reviewed and approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee, which examines the nature of the proposed research, including protocols to be used undertaking the work, in order to assess and minimize the risk of any experiments. This ensures all research conducted in the RBL occurs safely and in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.

When required, the Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Review Board will review research proposals and standard operating procedures. Inspections are performed regularly to ensure work is being performed according to approved procedures and records are kept properly. Additionally, members from these committees review documentation annually to ensure all laboratory procedures, biosecurity plans, emergency response plans and records are up to date and accurate.

Are there any job openings at the RBL?

For employment opportunities at the Tufts New England RBL or Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine please visit Tufts University Jobs and Career Information