Biosafety level 4 lab in Brazil will make it possible to combat future pandemics
Brazil and Germany have signed an agreement to establish a maximum biosafety containment (BSL-4) laboratory at the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) in Campinas, São Paulo, which will permit study of pathogens that cause severe and highly transmissible diseases. The joint letter of intent was signed this Monday (December 4) in Berlin between the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), CNPEM, the Brazilian Ministry of Health (MS), and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
“The partnership with the Robert Koch Institute in planning, constructing, operating, overseeing, and assessing the biosafety level 4 facilities, as well as the research and exchange opportunities, truly evidences the strategic nature of cooperation between Brazil and Germany,” stated Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Luciana Santos after signing the accord in Berlin. “I am convinced that both countries, as strong regional and global leaders, can have a strong influence in solving the problems shared by all of humankind,” she added.
Health Minister Nísia Trindade stressed that this partnership is entirely in line with the Ministry of Health’s strategy for facing future pandemics. “They may occur, as they have in the past, and we must be increasingly prepared to use our expertise in various knowledge areas and also armed with the most advanced technology. We need to increasingly make more investments in biosafety and science in the service of public health to try to avoid diseases with enormous impacts,” she emphasized.
The first maximum-level biological containment laboratory in Latin America, which will be called Orion, will also be the only one in the world connected to a synchrotron light source. CNPEM is home to one of only three fourth-generation synchrotron light sources in existence, Sirius, which uses particle accelerators to produce a special type of light. Synchrotron light is used to
investigate the composition and structure of matter in a variety of forms, with applications in practically all fields.
The construction of the BSL-4 lab was included in the National Growth Acceleration Program and is expected to receive R$ 1 billion in resources from the Brazilian National Scientific and Technological Development Fund (FNDCT) by 2026. Like Sirius, the laboratory will be an open facility and will serve needs related to the country’s public health challenges.
According to CNPEM Director General Antonio José Roque da Silva, the objective of the collaboration with the RKI (a German government institution responsible for disease prevention and control) is to develop maximum biosafety level infrastructure and advance knowledge in health.
“The Robert Koch Institute is a global reference in the area of biomedical research, with special emphasis on pathogens. This partnership will play an important role not only during the execution and development of the Orion project, but will also help in the mobility and training of researchers, in conducting joint studies, and more broadly in the area of health, in diagnostics and vaccine development,” he noted.
During the signing ceremony, RKI President Lars Schaade emphasized the current challenges that have made the institution more relevant for health, such as climate change, migration movements, and inequality in health access. He also highlighted scientific cooperation efforts. “With Brazil, the partnership we are establishing today focuses on the BSL-4 lab and the epidemiological question to ensure the quality of our diagnostic procedures,” he stated.
A sophisticated and effervescent environment for research and development, unique in Brazil and present in few scientific centers in the world, the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) is a private non-profit organization, under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). The Center operates four National Laboratories and is the birthplace of the most complex project in Brazilian science – Sirius – one of the most advanced synchrotron light sources in the world. CNPEM brings together highly specialized multi-thematic teams, globally competitive laboratory infrastructures open to the scientific community, strategic lines of investigation, innovative projects in partnership with the productive sector and training of researchers and students. The Center is an environment driven by the search for solutions with impact in the areas of Health, Energy and Renewable Materials, Agro-environment, and Quantum Technologies. As of 2022, with the support of the Ministry of Education (MEC), CNPEM expanded its activities with the opening of the Ilum School of Science. The interdisciplinary higher course in Science, Technology and Innovation adopts innovative proposals with the aim of offering excellent, free, full-time training with immersion in the CNPEM research environment. Through the CNPEM 360 Platform, it is possible to explore, in a virtual and immersive way, the main environments and activities of the Center, visit: https://pages.cnpem.br/cnpem360/.