Rocky Mountain Labs: NIAID’s Montana campus

Karen Honey
J Clin Invest. 2009;119(2):240-240.
The Division of Intramural Research (DIR) is a branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). A fact not widely known about the DIR is that more than 20% of its research is conducted in western Montana at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) (Figure 1). Furthermore, RML soon will house one of the very few biosafety level four (BSL4) facilities — laboratories with the strictest levels of biosafety, biocontainment, and security — in the US. The DIR conducts basic, translational, and clinical research related to immunology, allergy, and infectious diseases, with the aim of promoting the development of new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to improve human health. At RML, the specific research focus is infectious microorganisms that cause disease in humans and animals. This focus reflects the history of RML, whose most well-known alumni are probably Herald Rea Cox and Gordon Davis, who were involved in identifying Coxiella burnetii, the vector-borne bacterium that causes Q fever, and Willy Burgdorfer, who isolated Borrelia burgdorferi, the vector-borne spirochete that causes Lyme disease. Even before the first RML building was completed in 1928, researchers were working in the area (in makeshift cabins and tents) to determine the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease that in the early 1900s was lethal in nearly four out of every five cases […]

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