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Biosafety level 3 research facilities

The Biosafety level three (BSL-3) laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility which enables scientists to conduct research and proof-of-concept studies in developing new diagnostics or therapeutics in HIV/Aids, tuberculosis (TB) and other infectious diseases. The facility, also known as the high-containment facility, is a controlled-access laboratory required for all experiments involving hazard group three pathogens (P3) of high potential risk to laboratory personnel and the environment.

The laboratory has been designed with safety in mind; it is accessed via two self-closing and self-locking doors to restrict and control entry while provision is made for independent laboratory.

The BSL-3 is accessible to researchers nation-wide and internationally. The cost is determined on a case-to-case basis, and is negotiated at the point of closing the agreement.

Contact Person

Dr Jabulani Nhlapho

Technical Specifications

Key infrastructure and equipment

The laboratories are equipped with ESCO Airstream Class II bioSafety cabinets for manipulation of live pathogens, high-capacity ThermoScientific Forma 700 freezers and New Brunswick Galaxy 170R incubators. In addition, the HIV BSL-3 has S- and C-1000 thermal cyclers, a culture microscope, and Beckmann Coulter DTX 880 multimode detector as well as an Optima L-80XP ultracentrifuge. The TB BSL-3 has a fluorescent microscope. The BSL-3 facility is managed through a Desigo Insight Building Management System which enables the CSIR to monitor functionality of critical equipment. It also uses a STARLIM laboratory information management program to track and monitor resources and reagents.

Key Concept

Hazard groups
Micro-organisms are classified into four hazard groups on the basis of their pathogenicity to humans, risk to laboratory workers, transmissibility to the community, and whether effective prophylaxis is available. A hazard group one organism is most unlikely to cause human disease, while a hazard group four organism can cause severe human disease and is a serious hazard to laboratory workers.