Keck Cores: The Hastings Foundation and Wright Foundation Laboratories

Keck Cores: The Hastings Foundation and Wright Foundation Laboratories2022-07-05T06:13:43-07:00

keck-cores-winter-2016The Hastings Foundation and Wright Foundation Laboratories are a university-wide state-of-the-art facility located on the USC Health Sciences Campus. The laboratories serve basic and clinical scientists seeking to study emerging infectious diseases and ongoing public health agents in the fields of molecular biology, pathology, immunology and marine biology. Since the laboratories went live in February 2015, research efforts have focused on antiviral host immune responses and host immune control of viral infections.

The Hastings and Wright Laboratories are classified as a Biosafety-Level 3 (BSL3) containment laboratory. A level-3 facility is designed for the study of agents and toxins that can cause potentially severe or fatal illness as a result of exposure by inhalation. Examples include Mycobacterium tuberculosis, West Nile virus, chikungunya virus and influenza virus. In addition to providing a peak level of safety and security for researchers and the public at large, the facility includes rooms dedicated to studies on rodents that adhere to all applicable federal, state and institutional guidelines governing animal use in research.

Federally-funded investigators at USC with expertise in virology, bacterial pathogenesis and immunology are poised to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostic approaches to protect society from emerging infections. We anticipate that this new infectious diseases laboratory will help researchers to develop vaccines, diagnostic tests and other preventative and therapeutic measures. The facility can now be utilized to enable investigators to perform this important research here at USC.

Core Staff

Scientific Director – Dr. Lucio Comai, PhD
Dr. Comai joined the Keck School of Medicine in 1995 and is currently a professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. As scientific director, Dr. Comai supervises the facility’s daily operations and assures compliance with federal guidelines. He works together with the USC administration and faculty to stimulate the expansion of current clinical and basic research programs on infectious diseases at USC and assure that the laboratory is utilized for cutting-edge infectious disease research. He is available for discussions with researchers interested in developing projects that use the facility, thereby expanding research into evolving and established infectious diseases.

Facility Manager – Jill Henley, MBA
Jill Henley joined the Keck School of Medicine in 2009 as a research specialist in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and transitioned to the Hastings and Write Foundation Specialized Laboratory Core as the facility manager in October 2013. Jill oversees development, establishment, operation and daily maintenance of the facility. She works to provide administrative and technical expertise and support to manage the laboratory facilities.

Major Services, Technologies and Equipment Provided

By having access to equipment within containment, users of the facility are able to perform a myriad of sophisticated analyses in a secure and safe environment. The Laboratory Core will provide access to and assistance with this facility, as well as training and consultation for members of the USC community who are planning projects requiring BSL3 containment.


  • The facility has a dedicated HVAC exhaust system designed to keep the laboratory rooms under negative pressure, thus preventing contaminated air from escaping to surrounding areas.
  • The lab’s ventilation system is equipped with state-of-the-art monitoring systems and alarms.
  • All exterior and interior doors are electronically interlocked to prevent simultaneous opening.
  • Building and facility security includes multi-point entry security measures and constant video monitoring. Additional safeguards will not be disclosed for security purposes.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Maxair 800 Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) will be provided, and maintained when working in the BSL3 laboratory.

Biosafety Cabinets

  • In the BSL-3 laboratory, both Class II Type “A” and “B” BSCs are used.
  • Maintenance and certification of the BSCs is provided when working in laboratories.


  • Table top and microcentrifugation are available with each laboratory space.
  • Ultra centrifugation is available with HEPA filtration of vacuum air.


  • Ultra low freezer space is available for long term storage and inventory of samples.
  • -20 freezer and 4 degree refrigerators available for short term storage and inventory of samples and reagents.

In Vivo specific equipment

Specialized animal housing is available for short-term housing only. The laboratory uses HEPA filtered cage racks, cages and a specifically designed cage changing biosafety cabinet for the care and husbandry of rodents for the safety of workers and animals.

Tecniplast ISOcage system

  • A dedicated rack with Air Handling Unit
  • A Biohazard Class II cabinet, the Isocage Biosafety Station (IBS), is purposely designed to ensure the safe handling of the animals.
  • ISO cage systems have alarm systems


  • The SomnoSuite is available and validated for use.
  • SomnoSuite is factory-calibrated for use with isoflurane, sevoflurane and desflurane.

Service, Certification and Maintenance of all facility functions and equipment is provided when working in the BSL3 laboratory.


All staff receive extensive training and take all measures required to ensure their own safety and the safety of others when working in the laboratory. Training topics include, but are not limited to: standard operating procedures, common BSL3 laboratory hazards, and emergency preparedness. The learning objectives are met through active dialogue between researchers and instructors. Learning exercises stress problem solving, challenge critical thinking skills, and promote active Risk Assessment.

The management of the facility works closely with the USC Environmental Health and Safety office and campus regulatory committees, which include community representation.

All work involving biological agents is closely supervised by the Biological Safety Officer and protocols must be reviewed by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) in advance.

If you are a USC Principal Investigator interested in using the facility and usage fees, please contact Jill Henley at or (323) 442-4833.