Biocontainment Laboratory—University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston National Laboratory

As one of two National Biocontainment Laboratories constructed under grants awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health (NIAID/NIH), the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) enables progress in our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the spread of infectious diseases and the pathogenesis of the diseases they cause. It also promotes new strategies for their control – all within a safe and secure research environment.

More information about this resource is available at University of Texas Galveston National Laboratory

Main Areas of Focus

  • To assist in the development of an improved means for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases caused by naturally emerging and purposefully disseminated infectious agents.
  • To carry out cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research into the causes, modes of transmission, and mechanisms of infectious diseases.
  • To train the scientific teams of the future that will be needed to address the continuing challenge of emerging 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

  • Please contact the laboratory directly for further information.

Support Services

Laboratory and Analytical Support

  • Immunology services: Human monoclonal antibodies for therapy, breeding of transgenic and knockout mouse lines from common strain backgrounds and transfer onto preferred strain backgrounds (speed congenics), genotyping of transgenic and knockout mouse lines , tissue repository/tissue sharing/cryopreservation including the development and characterization of primary cell lines (for example, MEFs), experimental surgery services, health monitoring, monoclonal antibody production services.
  • Pathology services: Support for all histology needs on human or experimental animal tissues, cell culture blocks, monolayers, or smears; protocol development for immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescence ; user training for laser capture microdissection or cyrotomy ; IHC‐guided LCM‐sample preparation for downstream analysis; pathologist consultation; perform histology testing to complement/validate novel imaging studies; cell culture services, including mycoplasma testing; scientific supply room for media, sera, and enzymes; and dangerous goods shipping and receiving services. Specialized equipment includes: tissue processor embedding station, and automated stainer; microtome and cryotome automated immunostainer; cytocentrifuge; light and epifluorescent microscopes; laser capture microdissection system; and tissue arrayer.
  • Microbiology services: Clinical microbiology laboratory support and laboratory and analytical support and expertise available from the Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Microbiology and Department of Pathology faculty.

Ability To Accommodate cGLP or cGMP Studies?

cGLP capabilities are in place.

Specialized Areas

  • Aerobiology Services Core: Expert accredited aerobiology staff supporting all animal model aerosol exposure needs of GNL investigators, collaborators, and other CDC‐registered investigators worldwide under negotiated Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements and Material Transfer Agreements, funded via collaborative grants, contracts, and subcontracts with UTMB.
    • ABSL‐3 Aerobiology: Baker Class II single sided biosafety cabinet line with Madison aerosol chamber attached and containing Biaera computer‐controlled platform integrated with DSI real‐time plethysmography for precision aerosol delivery to NHPs. EMKA computer controlled whole body plethysmography system for direct measurement of lung volume and respiration rate in rabbits and NHPs.
    • ABSL‐4 Aerobiology: Germfree Class III double‐sided biosafety cabinet line with Madison aerosol chamber attached and containing a qualified and validated Biaera computer‐controlled platform integrated with DSI real‐time plethysmography aerosol delivery to NHPs. Digital flow airflow meters, Gilibrators, and calibration equipment for nebulizers and all glass biosamplers. The Class II biosafety cabinet is connected to the BSL‐4 suit lab via a rapid transfer port in the BSL‐4 suit labwall.
  • ​Imaging Services Core: FluoView 1000 Confocal Microscope (BSL2/3); Molecular Imager VersaDoc MP 4000 System (BSL2); Molecular Imager Gel Doc XR System (BSL2); CereTom CT Scanner (ABSL3); microPET Focus PET Scanner (ABSL3); IVIS Imaging System 200 Series (ABSL3); Point‐of‐Care CR‐ITX 560 Digital X‐Ray System (ABSL3); TECAN Freedom EVO (BSL2); Canto Flow Cytometer (BSL4); TITAN Portable Ultrasound System (ABSL3); InFlux Cell Sorter (BSL3); Ibis T5000 Universal Biosensor (BSL2).
  • Insectary Services Core: Maintains 11 species of ticks and 17 species/strains of mosquitoes. Key functions of the core are: development of safe, secure facilities, techniques and protocols to work with pathogens in arthropod vectors (ticks and mosquitoes); training of personnel (UTMB & others) at BSL3 and BSL‐4; Infection of arthropods; maintenance and containment of infected arthropods; safe disposal of infected arthropods; facilitate biodefense researchers in vector competency studies, basic vector biology, electron microscopy and vaccine evaluation techniques. Has an active U.S. Department of Agriculture arthropod import permit to receive arthropods from around the globe to conduct research at UTMB.


Animal Capabilities, Including Species and Containment Level(s)

  • Nonhuman primates (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Mouse (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Hamster (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Rat (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Guinea pig (ABSL2, ABSL 3, ABSL4)
  • Ferret (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Rabbit (ABSL2, ABSL3, ABSL4)
  • Sheep (ABSL4)
  • Swine (ABSL4)

Animal Models, Including Species, Disease, and Delivery Method

A=aerosol, IN=intranasal, S=subcutaneous, O=oral, IP=intraperitoneal, T=transthorasic, IC=intracerebral, ID=intradermal, IM= intramuscular, IT= intratracheal, IV=intravenous, M=mosquito, IN=intranasal, INH=intrahepatic, INR=intratracheal

  • Bacillus anthracis: mouse (A,IN,S), guinea pig (A,IN), rabbit (A,IN), NHP (A,IN,S)
  • Yersinia pestis: mouse (A,IN,S), NHP (A,IN,S)
  • Francisella tularensis: mouse (IP)
  • Lassa Fever: guinea pig (IN), NHP (IN)
  • Guanarito virus – Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever: mouse (A,S), guinea pig (IN, T)
  • Junin: guinea pig (IN), NHP (IN)
  • Hantaviruses – Andres, Catamas, Choclo, Maporal: hamster (IN,T,IM)
  • Rift Valley Fever virus: mouse (S), mosquito, NHP (S)
  • Dengue: mouse (IC,IN,IT), mosquito, NHP (S,IN);
  • GB‐V: NHP (INH)
  • Ebola virus: mouse (A, IC,IN), guinea pig (A, IC,IN), NHP (IN, IC)
  • Marburg virus: guinea pig (IN), NHP (IN)
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei: mouse (A,IN), humanized‐mouse (A,IN), NHP (A,IN)
  • B. mallei: mouse (A,IN), humanized‐mouse (A,IN), NHP (A,IN)
  • Rickettsia prowazekii: guinea pig (IN,A), mouse (A,IN), NHP (A,IN,S,IV)
  • Chapare virus: NHP (S,IN,IM)
  • Chikungunya virus: mosquito, NHP (A,IN,S,M)
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus: mosquito, NHP (A,I,S,IN,M)
  • Western Equine Encephalitis virus: mosquito, NHP (A,IN,S,M)
  • Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus: mosquito, NHP (A,IN,S,M)
  • Japanese Encephalitis virus: mosquito
  • Henipavirus: NHP (IN,T)
  • Hepatitis A virus: NHP (O)
  • Influenza A virus: NHP (IN)
  • Kyasanur Forest disease: Tick, NHP (S,IN)
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis: mouse (A), NHP (A)
  • Nipah virus: hamster (A), NHP (IN,INR)
  • Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever: Tick, NHP (S,IN,IND)
  • O'nyong‐nyong virus (ONNV): mosquito, NHP (A,IN,S,M)
  • Rickettsia rickettsii: Tick, NHP (A,IN,S); SARS‐CoV: NHP (IN)
  • West Nile virus: mosquito, NHP (S,IN)
  • Yellow Fever Virus: mosquito, NHP (IN)
  • Powassan virus: mouse (ID, S, tick)
  • Crimean‐Congo hemorrhagic fever virus: mouse (S, tick)
  • Tickborne encephalitis virus: tick, NHP (A)


Only Select Agents are listed.

  • Cercopithecine herpes virus 1
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Crimean‐Congo hemorrhagic fever virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus
  • Ebola virus
  • Francisella tularensis
  • Lassa fever virus
  • Marburg virus
  • Monkeypox virus
  • Reconstructed 1918 Influenza virus
  • Rickettsia prowazekii
  • Rickettsia rickettsii
  • Flexal
  • Guanarito
  • Junin
  • Machupo
  • Sabia
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Brucella abortus
  • Brucella melitensis
  • Burkholderia mallei
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Hendra virus
  • Nipah virus
  • Rift Valley fever virus
  • Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus
  • Akabane virus
  • Avian influenza virus
  • Japanese encephalitis virus
  • Central European Tick‐borne encephalitis
  • Far Eastern Tickborne encephalitis
  • Kyasanur Forest disease
  • Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Russian Spring and Summer encephalitis
  • Yersinia pestis
  • Vesicular stomatitis virus (exotic)
  • Virulent Newcastle disease virus

Imaging Capabilities

  • Specialized Equipment: Confocal microscopy (BSL4), Upright combined confocal and multiphoton microscopy (BSL2, BSL3), IVIS Spectrum Whole body bioluminescence/fluorescence imaging (BSL2,BSL3,BSL4), PET–CT Imaging (BSL2 in transition to BSL3).
  • Software/Image Processing: Variety of image processing software capabilities (Imaris, Metamorph, Volocity) and expertise.
  • ​Research Support Capabilities: Imaging project consultation, image contrast probe and sample preparation consultation, advanced cellular, tissue and whole body imaging acquisition, image processing consultation, whole organ (brain, lung) optical clearing (CLARITY) for advanced microscopy of deeply located targets. (Additional Imaging capabilities on campus) A biomedical imaging network providing a diversity of imaging resources from subcellular to whole body capabilities. Basic and advanced core optical imaging including widefield fluorescence, live cell imaging, and confocal microscopy instruments with applications such as FRET, FRAP, and fluorescence lifetime microscopy; Intravital microscopy capabilities with technology including multimodal nonlinear optical microscopy (e.g., multiphoton microscopy, second harmonic generation microscopy, and CARS); endomicroscopy (optical coherence tomography, confocal endomicroscopy), microPET‐CT, high resolution ultrasound.

Shared Resources

Extensive campus resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Cryo EM facilities
  • Additional campus BSL3 and BSL4 space
  • Biomedical Imaging Center
  • Programmatic cores concentrating on proteomics, genomics, flow cytometry and cell sorting, bioinformatics, biostatistics, structural biology
  • Transgenic mouse laboratory
  • Tissue culture core facility
  • National Biocontainment Training Center developed to meet the biosafety training needs for internal and external audiences for BSL2/3/4 and ABSL 2/3/4 work, customized training onsite or on location, and a biocontainment engineering training program that prepares individuals to operate and maintain a biocontainment laboratory

Contact Information