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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

BU names NIH official to major biolab post

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

Boston University today named a federal scientist who specializes in the study of the Ebola and Marburg viruses to the number two position at its controversial high-security laboratory being built in Boston's South End.

Thomas W. Geisbert will become associate director of the Biosafety Level-4 Laboratory and related facilities already rising on Albany Street. The high-security lab will allow scientists to work with the world's deadliest germs, including Ebola, anthrax, and plague.

Geisbert comes to BU from a similar position at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he helps preside over that agency's Biosafety Level-4 lab. When Geisbert joins BU on Oct. 1, he will also have direct responsibility for overseeing the handling and analysis of specimens generated by research projects in the facility, which is underwritten by a $128 million grant from the US government.

BU also announced today that Joan Geisbert, who is married to Thomas W. Geisbert, has been hired to help run the specimen lab. Joan Geisbert, who begins her job at BU on Feb. 1, has worked in Biosafety Level-4 labs for 26 years and most recently has supervised high-security labs at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Maryland.

The BU lab, which is being built on the university's medical school campus, has generated lawsuits and street protests by opponents, who maintain that the facility has no place in a congested urban neighborhood. Foes of the lab have also charged that locating it in the South End imposes an unfair burden on a community with a significant segment of poor and minority residents.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 01:37 PM
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