WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The government Canada plans to invest $5 million to expand and improve the country’s Containment Level 4 (CL4) laboratory which enables researchers to safely handle the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases.

Improvements at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health will include converting existing laboratory space to the highest level of biosafety — CL4 by reconfiguring adjacent high containment lab areas within the existing footprint of the building. CL4 laboratories are equipped with highly specialized engineering controls that enable scientists to safely diagnose, research, and develop treatments and vaccines for high risk pathogens.

The Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health co-houses the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD).

“The Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health is a world class research center with a mission to advance human and animal health through laboratory leadership, scientific excellence, and public health innovation,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, PHAC. “Expanding our CL4 laboratory space vastly increases our capacity to investigate, test, and research the most deadly of infectious diseases.”

The government expects the enhancements to improve researchers’ capability to detect and respond to emerging human and animal pathogens such as new types of avian influenza, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). One area of focus for NCFAD researchers is the Nipah virus, which is a potentially fatal disease that can impact both pigs and humans. Scientists are working to better understand the disease, how to protect swine from infection, and developing tests for diagnosing the disease.

“The government of Canada is committed to strengthening Canada’s research and science base by investing in infrastructure at federal laboratories,” said Canadian Minister of Health Jane Philpott. “We are proud to support our world-class researchers by providing them with the tools they need to protect the health of Canadians.”