Biocontainment Laboratory—University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh Regional Biocontainment Laboratory is one of the NIAID-supported Biocontainment Laboratories. The Lab is a unique facility designed to support the research community and national biodefense network by providing state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) and Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL-3) laboratories, including dedicated facilities for aerobiology, imaging, and immunopathology

More information about this resource is available at University of Pittsburgh Regional Biocontainment Laboratory

Main Areas of Focus

  • To facilitate investigators in the development of new vaccines and therapeutics to combat these emerging and globally significant pathogenic agents.
  • To serve as a resource for biomedical researchers by providing access to BSL-3 enhanced containment laboratories and qualified scientists.
  • To establish partnerships with industry and academic institutions to facilitate collaborative research.
  • To develop national and international collaborations for emerging infectious diseases.
  • To serves as a regional and national resource in the event of a natural or man-made outbreak of highly pathogenic infectious diseases.

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

  • Contact the University of Pittsburgh RBL directly for further information.


Animal Capabilities, Including Species and Containment Level(s)

  • Mice (ABSL2, ABSL3)
  • Rat/hamster (ABSL2, ABSL3)
  • Ferret (ABSL1, ABSL2, ABSL3)
  • Rabbit (ABSL1, ABSL2, ABSL3)
  • Nonhuman primate (ABSL2, ABSL3)

Animal Models, Including Species, Disease, and Delivery Method

  • Mice: F. tularensis (aerosol, intranasal); Y. pestis (aerosol); VEE virus (sc,ic, aerosol); EEE virus (sc, ic, aerosol); West Nile virus (sc, ip); seasonal, novel H1N1; highly pathogenic avian influenza (intranasal, aerosol); Rift valley fever virus (in, sc, aerosol); West Nile virus (sc, ip); M. tuberculosis (aerosol); Chikungunya
  • Rats: Rift valley fever virus (sc, aerosol)
  • Rabbits: F. tularensis (aerosol, intradermal)
  • Ferrets: seasonal, H1N1, avian influenza
  • Nonhuman primates: M. tuberculosis (aerosol, intratracheal),; highly pathogenic influenza (in; aerosol); Rift valley fever virus (aerosol); alphaviruses (aerosol)


Currently approved for work with:

  • Burkholderia mallei
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Yersinia pestis
  • Francisella tularensis
  • VEE virus
  • EEE virus
  • WEE virus
  • Rift Valley fever virus
  • Japanese encephalitis virus
  • Yellow fever virus
  • West Nile virus
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus
  • Monkeypox
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Bacillus anthracis

Imaging Capabilities

  • CT/PET/X-ray capabilities at BSL2 and CT/PET/X-ray/IVIS Spectrum CT enhanced BSL3
  • Live Cell Microscopy at BSL2 and BSL3

Major Equipment Available

All of the following specialized major equipment and resources are installed and available at BSL-3/enhanced BSL-3:

  • Aerobiology Core Facility
    • Baker Class III Glovebox for aerosol exposure of mice (nose-only or whole body), rats (nose-only or whole body), rabbits (nose-only or whole body), ferrets (nose-only or whole body), or NHPs (head only); animals transported using hepa filtered, battery powered mobile transfer carts.
    • Aerosol Management Platform (AeroMP, Biaera) to control flows and humidity in the exposure chamber, and record flow, pressure, humidity, and temperature.during whole-body and nose-only exposures.
    • Bosamplers and impingers to determine concentration of viable bacteria or yeast in infectious aerosols.
  • Live cell imaging microscopy core facility (confocal and flourescent microscopes)
  • Animal imaging (CT/PET/X-ray)
  • FACSAria cell sorter
  • Luminex multiplex biomarker
  • RT-PCR
  • Gel-DOC
  • High speed and Ultracentrifugation

Support Services

Laboratory and Analytical Support

  • Immunology services: ELISA, flow cytometry, live cell sorting, ELISPOT, RT-PCR, live cell microscopy; pathogen- specific immunological assays
  • Pathology services: sample collection, blood counts, necropsy and tissue prep; H&E, immunostaining
  • ​Microbiology services: Inoculum prep; bacterial prep and titer (colony forming units); viral prep and titer (plaque forming units, TCID50)

Ability To Accommodate cGLP or cGMP Studies?


Shared Resources

The RBL is located within the Center for Vaccine Research (CVR). The CVR maintains shared instrumentation including low and high speed centrifuges, beta and gamma spectrometers, spectrophotometers, fluorimeter, luminometer, densitometer, phosphorimager, BD LSRII flow cytometer, FACSAria cell sorter, Biacore 3000 and Luminex multiplex biomarker.

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry Research Support Facility, located in the Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, also provides services for automated DNA synthesis and sequencing, protein sequencing, amino acid analysis, peptide synthesis (including GMP) and mass spectrometry.

Contact Information