Understanding and characterizing disease-causing organisms present a distinct dilemma for the scientific and policy communities. On the one hand, this research presents great opportunities for developing vaccines and therapies, understanding host-pathogen interactions, and possibly preventing future pandemics. On the other, it potentially opens the door to lab accidents or potential misuses, just the fear of which may spur governments and regulatory bodies to enact over-restrictive rules and regulations that thwart discovery rather than protect society. A key part of this research infrastructure are Biosafety Level-3 laboratories, which enable scientists to research high-containment infectious pathogens in a safe and secure facility. Therefore, understanding the number and distribution of BSL-3 laboratories provides insight into where this research is being conducted.
Despite their importance, there is currently no comprehensive list of BSL-3 facilities, or the institutions in which they are housed. As a way to begin to better understand the depth and breadth of this research, as well as how it is distributed worldwide, we systematically identified and located BSL-3 institutions that published in English from 2006–2021, using PubMed Central to identify those publications. This paper maps institutions that host a BSL-3 laboratory by location to provide a high-level analysis of where high-containment BSL-3 research is conducted globally.