“You need to be in good shape to work here. Due to the constant negative pressure, which is necessary to prevent pathogens from getting out, it feels as if you’re working at 2,500 meters altitude,” says Nico Callewaert, director of VIB’s Center for Medical Biotechnology, who was happy to share a look behind the scenes of VIB and UGent’s new research building with Flanders’ main financial newspaper De Tijd.
In this heavily secured, high-tech lab, on the fourth of six floors, cutting-edge research on airborne pathogens, such as influenza and coronavirus, is carried out. “Our people first receive three weeks of training to learn how to master all safety procedures,” Callewaert adds. “They wear two layers of protective clothing and custom-made face masks. They also always enter in pairs – just in case something should happen.”