The Francis Crick Institute is continuing the world-leading
research into influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV that was
previously carried out at the Medical Research
Council's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
This will represent a small but important part of the work of
the institute. Flu research saves thousands of lives each year -
for example through the design of vaccines - and helps ensure the
UK is robustly protected.
All of the institute's work will be carried out at the
appropriate level of containment in state-of-the-art
Central London and the borough of Camden already accommodate
many secure laboratories in hospitals and university buildings.
Such laboratories are common and essential facilities in modern
medical research, and are very safe.
Samples used in our research will be transported securely and
safely according to strict criteria defined by the United Nations.
These transport arrangements are no less stringent than those
followed daily by hospitals throughout London and are regarded as
The founders' scientists and technicians are extremely
experienced in ensuring the safe study of viruses. NIMR worked at
its Mill Hill site for 60 years and had an exemplary safety record
as did Cancer Research UK's London Research
Institute, which was based at Lincoln's Inn Fields for many years.
The Francis Crick Institute is confident that this record will be
maintained in the new laboratories.
Organisms that can cause human or animal disease are placed into
one of four Hazard Groups according to the hazard they present. The
measures adopted by laboratories to work with these organisms
safely are called Containment Levels. Containment Level 1 is
Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are assigned to Hazard Group 3 so
must be studied in a Containment Level 3 laboratory.
Seasonal flu, to which many people are exposed each year, is
assigned to Hazard Group 2. The H5N1 strain ('bird flu') requires
precautions above those required for members of Hazard Group 3, and
we refer to these precautions as Containment Level 3+.
All laboratories and working practices are regulated by the
Health and Safety Executive and are checked with rigorous and
For Containment Level 3, the following conditions apply.
- Laboratories are secure and accessible only through an
- Flooring and benches are impervious to water and resistant to
- Laboratories are under negative pressure such that air flows in
from clean areas and is extracted to the atmosphere through special
high efficiency particulate air filters.
- Work is carried out in safety cabinets to protect workers and
- All waste is treated before it leaves the area either by heat
or a suitable disinfectant.
- Written management procedures are required.
- Staff must be properly trained.
- Procedures are required to deal with any foreseeable
Containment Level 3+ requires that walls as well as floor and
benching should be impervious, that the laboratories are under
higher negative pressure, and that heat treatment is applied to all
liquid and solid waste including shower water. Certain work is
required to be carried out in closed safety cabinets, and workers
are subject to higher standards of training and more frequent
The Crick research programme will not include work on Hazard
Group 4 pathogens causing diseases such as Ebola or Lassa