- News Home
6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
- About Us
French Biosafety Lab Chief Ousted
11 July 2000 6:00 pm
PARIS--Europe's most advanced high-security pathogen lab has claimed its first human casualty--and it hasn't even opened for business. On 28 June, the Marcel Mérieux Foundation, which funded the construction of the $8 million facility in Lyons, banned lab director Susan Fisher-Hoch from the premises and launched legal proceedings to dismiss her. Fisher-Hoch's most egregious offense, it appears, was speaking with the press.
The turmoil at the biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) facility comes in the wake of a takeover of the lab's scientific direction by the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The Mérieux Foundation teamed up with Pasteur after failing to convince funding bodies to finance the lab's estimated $1.4 million annual budget. In exchange for footing a still-undecided portion of the lab's bills, Pasteur insisted that one of its own scientists become director (Science, 30 June, p. 2298). That presented a problem, however, as Fisher-Hoch has a contract naming her director until February 2002. At the foundation's request, she says, she prepared a proposal for a new contract. Fisher-Hoch agreed to give up the directorship if she could run some of the lab's international relations and do research into a Lassa fever vaccine.
Fisher-Hoch claims she received "no reply at all" to the proposal before being "presented simply with an ultimatum to get out of the lab." Foundation Secretary-General Claude Lardy counters that she personally told Fisher-Hoch that the proposal was "completely unacceptable" because it gave her too much independence and authority.
Complicating matters, Fisher-Hoch has been in hot water over an incident earlier this year in which she allegedly stored potentially virus-infected blood samples in the lab before it was certified to hold them. Fisher-Hoch denies the allegation, saying that the samples were drawn from healthy doctors and nurses during a workshop in Liberia. Nevertheless, the primary grounds for Fisher-Hoch's dismissal, cited in a 28 June letter to her from the foundation, are that she spoke with journalists about the foundation's decision to replace her as director.
Fisher-Hoch has hired an attorney to help fight her dismissal. In the meantime, no one is about to suit up for the pathogen lab: Local officials have delayed the facility's opening, planned for this month, until whoever takes over presents bona fide credentials for running a BSL-4 facility.