Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Germs Check In...

I got to tour the not-yet-operational NEIDL facility (National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories--pronounced 'needle,' naturally) this afternoon.

I was certainly impressed by the extensive security measures in place. They have machines that scan your eyeball to make sure your iris matches the database! Like in the movies! It's high tech, baby.

Also, sensors that count how many people went through a door after one, authorized person opened it. So if I let you in and you're not supposed to be there, someone will be able to tell that it was me who let some unaccounted-for person into the lab.

Not that I will ever be authorized to let anyone into a lab in general, and certainly not in a highly secure facility. I signed up for the tour because I figured I'm pretty much never going to get into that building again. (Which is as it should be, since I have no useful purpose there unless people urgently need PubMed training in the middle of an experiment or something. Which one hopes they will not.)

And the 'space suits' for the level four pathogens--those must be a blast to work in. Several of us were greatly distracted by the thought of how long the suiting up and decontamination/unsuiting takes (the number 45 minutes was suggested), and the horror if you get all dressed and into your lab and then realize you have to go to the bathroom.

These are the issues that plague people at work, you know.

There's been ongoing discussion over whether or not it's a good idea to have a Biosafety Level 4 facility in the middle of a heavily populated area, but I have to say, they appear to be taking safety and security pretty seriously to assure that no one gets in who's not supposed to, and that nothing gets out that's not supposed to.

Would I personally want to move in next door to the NEIDL?

Heck yeah. Imagine how short my commute would be!


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