How the times have changed.
A little over 17 years ago, in an auditorium at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston Texas, a motley crew of dignitaries gathered to celebrate the construction of a state-of-the-art biological laboratory. Biosafety-level (BSL)-4 labs like the Galveston National Laboratory are the sort of places where disease researchers don head-to-toe protective gear and breathe pumped-in air, lest they get exposed to any highly lethal and contagious pathogens. On hand that day were Anthony Fauci, then the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and two top Republican officials, former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
“We are going to be a one-stop shopping center for all of the bad things that might happen,” Hutchison said, according to the Galveston County Daily News, “but more importantly, we are going to find the cures.” DeLay, the paper said, told the crowd that the lab would be among the most secure and advanced in the world.