Biocontainment Laboratory: University of Chicago Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory

The University of Chicago Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory (HTRL) is one of the NIAID-supported Biocontainment Laboratories.  The HTRL is a state of the art BSL-3 facility constructed to support research on bacterial and viral pathogens. The Lab is registered with the US Select Agent Program and its mission is to carry out cutting-edge translational research on biodefense-related agents as well as the causative agents of emerging infectious diseases

More information about this resource is available at Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory

Main Areas of Focus

  • To develop new vaccines and therapeutics for biodefense-related and emerging infectious diseases.
  • To provide training in biosafety and BSL-3 operations.

Who Can Use This Resource

  • Investigators in academia, not-for-profit organizations, industry, and government studying biodefense and emerging infectious diseases may request the use of biocontainment laboratories.

How To Get Started

  • Please contact the HTRL directly for further information.

Support Services

 Laboratory and Analytical Support

  • Immunology services: Mid-point ELISA (titers, isotype, epitope mapping), ELIspot, Luminex (multiplex cytokine detection), FACs. Rabbit polyclonal sera production, mouse monoclonal antibody production.
  • Pathology services: Tissue harvesting, embedding and staining.
  • Microbiology services: Growth curve, therapeutic MIC, cloning, gene KO. Phenotypic determination (western blot, immunofluorescence, etc).

Ability To Accommodate cGLP or cGMP Studies?

  • No


Animal Models, including species, disease, and delivery method

  • Mouse, rat and guinea pig model for bubonic plague (subcutaneous or intra-dermal delivery)
  • Mouse, rat and guinea pig model for pneumonic plague (intranasal instillation or aerosol exposure)
  • Mouse and guinea pig model for systemic anthrax (subcutaneous or intraperitoneal delivery)
  • Mouse and guinea pig model for gastrointestinal anthrax (oral delivery)
  • Mouse and guinea pig model for pulmonary anthrax (intranasal instillation or aerosol delivery)
  • Mouse model for Multi-resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection: Kidney abscess model (intravenous injection)
  • Pneumonia (intranasal instillation)
  • Guinea Pig model for MRSA (intravenous injection)
  • Guinea pig infection models of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococci) (sub-Q and intranasal)
  • Mouse models of Yersiniosis (intra-peritonal and intra-gastric routes of delivery)
  • Mouse model of brucellosis
  • Mouse model of influenza virus (Intranasal Instillation)
  • Mouse model for Rickettsia prowazekii (intravenous injection)


  • Yersinia pestis
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Rickettsia prowazekii
  • Brucella abortus
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses
  • Reconstructed 1918 Influenza virus (pending)

Other agents currently worked on:

  • Yersinia enterocolitica
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • MRSA

Specialized Areas or Major Equipment Available

  • Tissue processing room (Necropsy)
  • Aerobiology: nose-only exposure system for mice, rats or guinea pigs in Class III BSC in dedicated aerobiology room and self-contained transport system for animals (not currently certified for BSL3)
  • BD FACSAria™ sorter housed inside a biosafety cabinet
  • IVIS Lumina In Vivo Imaging System

Shared Resources

The HTRL is located at the Argonne National Lab where there are facilities for NexGen DNA sequencing, computation, and protein structure determination. Access to the ANL campus is restricted and thus provides a highly secure environment. The University of Chicago in Hyde Park has world-class facilities for mAb development and small molecule screening (not in containment).

Contact Information