ALERT BAR

 

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes: Our location on Galveston Island means we take hurricane season seriously. We receive daily weather updates throughout the season, and everyone on our team knows their role before, during and after a weather event. Our main goal is to protect our people, our research and our facility in the event a storm is forecast for our area. Fortunately, tropical storms and hurricanes provide some warning, which allows our teams time to secure their work and prepare to shut down if required. During a major storm, a stay team remains on site at the GNL for the duration of the storm and beyond to ensure that all systems remain online and the lab maintains containment and security. 

Welcome to the Galveston National Lab

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The Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) is a sophisticated high containment research facility that serves as a critically important resource in the global fight against infectious diseases. The GNL is located on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch and operates under the umbrella of UTMB’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provides funding for the BSL4 laboratories and operations at the GNL, and the lab’s top priority is research to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to combat emerging and re-emerging diseases that threaten public health, not only in our country, but around the world.

Researchers at the GNL are internationally known for their expertise working with pathogens including Ebola and Marburg and emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and MERS.  Scientists not only research the pathogens (viruses) themselves, but they also study the vectors for disease threats: mosquitos, which carry and transmit West Nile, Zika, Malaria, Chikungunya and many other diseases, and ticks, which cause diseases that are of grave concern and top priority to the National Institutes of Health.  In addition to basic research that aides understanding about transmission and pathogenesis of emerging viruses, GNL scientists are developing medical countermeasures for disease threats, including dangerous pathogens called Select Agents, which are high priority for study because of their high mortality rates, limited treatments and potential to be used as weapons around the world.

The Galveston National Laboratory is home to research that is funded by NIAID, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other federal agencies, as well as academic partners, private foundations, and the Biopharmaceutical industry.


The GNL and COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, scientists and staff at the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) have used their infectious disease expertise to   develop diagnostics, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and other therapies. They have also contributed to basic research and medical literature. UTMB faculty  and students have contributed tremendously to research focused on ending this public health crisis.

Scientists at the GNL were the first to reverse engineer and sequence SARS-CoV-2, helping colleagues throughout the U.S. and around the world get a jump start on research before the first live virus samples were available.  The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention provided one of the first live samples of virus from one of the very first Washington COVID patients to GNL scientists.  That sample became part of the GNL's World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, and was safely shared with laboratories across the country and around the world, allowing the world's best researchers to work on developing effective diagnostics and vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.

UTMB researchers have been integrally involved with the testing and development of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.  Not only in the laboratory, where pre-clinical tests proved efficacy, safety and protection, but also with human clinical trials that were run by experts from our Sealy Vaccine Center, with hundreds of UTMB employees and Galveston community members willingly participating to help bring these vaccines to people everywhere. Everyone who works at UTMB is proud of our institution's contribution to proving the efficacy of these vaccines.  We know we were a large part of getting shots in arms in record time. 

In addition, our scientists have served as expert resources to Congressional committees and scientific panels at both the federal and state level, as our elected officials have strained to understand the nature of zoonotic viruses, the intricacies of microbiology, virology and immunology and the benefit of public health measures (like handwashing, masking, social distancing) for keeping communities safe.  We have also been consulted for our expertise in pandemic preparedness, been invited to share our expertise on emerging and re-emerging diseases, and have been consulted on best practices in biosafety and biodefense.

COVID-19 and its variants still remain a large part of our research portfolio, even as our scientists look to the future and concerns over "what's next?"  For our community, we have successfully delivered on a vigorous vaccination program in line with state and CDC guidelines. Our physicians have learned much about treating patients, and our faculty continues to be involved at the epicenter of all the important medical research.

Since the first discovery of this new virus, UTMB research scientists have:

  • Received more than $45 million in funded research for Covid-19
  • Completed hundreds of important studies safely in our high containment facilities
  • Published important studies and novel research on the disease transmission, pathogenesis, prevention and treatments

For more information on our work with COVID and the rest of the research taking place in the Galveston National Laboratory, please CONTACT US.