Laboratory of Infectious Disease (LID)

Image of door with Laboratory of Infectious Disease above it.

 

About the LID

The Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID) at the University of South Alabama, located on campus at 610 Clinic Drive, was funded by a National Institutes of Health Construction grant and became functionally active in February 2015. The LID is designed to provide state-of-the-art research facilities dedicated to the study of microbial pathogens of importance in public health and biodefense. The facility includes biosafety level (BSL) 2 and 3 research laboratories and an animal BSL-3 suite, for work with risk group (RG) 2 and 3 pathogens. The LID maintains a Certificate of Registration for Select Biological Agents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is valid through June 2021 for work with the select agent’s eastern equine encephalitis virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and Rickettsia prowazekii. The facilities design and associated laboratory practices include enhanced biosafety and biosecurity features to support work with Tier 1 select agents such as Francisella tularensis, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Bacillus anthracis. 

Current research efforts at the LID are aimed at understanding the molecular pathogenesis of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases; and the development of animal models and assays to support early stage drug discovery and development. Immunological assays developed in support of these preclinical studies are being further developed and validated to support human clinical trials of new candidate vaccines. Currently targeted pathogens include mosquito-borne viruses in the Flaviviridae and Togaviridae families including but not limited to Zika virus and chikungunya virus, respectively; and influenza virus. In collaboration with the Biology Department in the College of Arts and sciences, researchers at the LID are also supporting mosquito and tick-borne infectious disease surveillance efforts in the state of Alabama to better inform public health departments and clinicians on the risk of human exposure to arthropod-borne infectious diseases. Pools of mosquitoes and ticks from these programs serve as a valuable resource for environmental isolates of important human and animal pathogens; and for future research efforts focused on the development and validation of molecular methods and whole genome approaches to improve emerging infectious disease surveillance efforts.  

In support of research activities, the BSL-2 laboratories include five rooms of approximately 1,000 square feet each, along with two tissue culture rooms, and multiple shared rooms for microscopy and molecular biology support. Major equipment includes: Class II, Type A2 biological safety cabinets, Air Clean PCR Work Station; water jacketed CO2 incubators; New Brunswich gyratory incubators (Excella E24 table top and C25 floor); QuantStudio 5 and StepOne real-time PCR systems (Applied Biosystems); 96 well MasterCycler gradient thermocyclers (Eppendorf); Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (Life Technologies); Immunospot Analyzer (Cellular Technologies Limited); Luminex MAGPIX system; ChemiDoc gel documentation system (Bio-Rad); Synergy 2 plate reader (BioTek); Allegra 6R centrifuge (Beckman Coulter); Beckman Coulter 22R refrigerated microcentrifuge; Eppendorf centrifuge 5417R and 5424; Eppendorf Vacufuge; Eppendorf BioPhotometer Plus; NanoDrop 1000 spectrophotometer; LMI6000 LED fluorescent inverted microscope with SeBaView Software (Laxco); Eclipse Ts2 inverted tissue culture scope; Eclipse 90i microscope (Nikon) with NIS elements software; Millipore Elix deionized water system; Milli-Q water system; upright ultralow freezers; upright -20oC freezers, and 4oC coolers.

The BSL-3 Laboratory Space includes 5 labs of approximately 300 sq. ft. and one lab of approximately 600 sq. ft. that can be dedicated to individual researchers working with different pathogens. The BSL-3 laboratories contain thirteen Class II, Type A2 biological safety cabinets; a Class II, Type B1 biological safety cabinet; five water jacketed CO2 incubators; Thermo Barnstead MaxQ 4000 gyratory incubator (tabletop); Beckman/Coulter Avanti JE refrigerated high speed centrifuge; two inverted tissue culture scopes; BTX electroporation system; three Select Agent ultralow chest freezers plus one additional ultralow chest freezer as emergency backup; four over/under freezer/refrigerator units; three microfuges with safety rotors/cups (Eppendorf 5804, 5702 and 5430); Fisherbrand Beadmill 4 bead beater; Helios plate reader; Nikon Eclipse TE2000-U fluorescent microscope with Nikon Elements software and Z-axis capability; and a Beckman Coulter MoFlo XDP 8-color fluorescence-activated cell sorter that is housed within a custom biological safety cabinet to facilitate experimentation with Risk Group 3 pathogens. The ABSL-3 suite is approximately 551 sq. ft. total and consists of two animal holding labs, a procedure room, and an ante-room for staging equipment and supplies. The suite includes two Class II, Type A2 biological safety cabinets; a Class II, Type B1 biological safety cabinet, and two Lab Products ventilated cage racks with micro-isolator caging to house small animals.