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New $250 million lab on shaky ground

A new $250 million National Institute of Health lab in Baltimore vibrates so much that tests there could be compromised, forcing administrators to consider moving to an older facility.

The NIH is now considering

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A new $250 million National Institute of Health lab in Baltimore vibrates so much that tests there could be compromised, forcing administrators to consider moving to an older facility.

The NIH is now considering 'extensive' renovations to an aging research lab in nearby Southeast Baltimore, according to published reports.

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said in a letter to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski that the organization is exploring using the Gerontology Research Center because many research instruments won't work properly in the new building.

Ground was broken on the new 10-story, 500,000 square foot Biomedical Research Center in October 2004. Early measurements then indicated the potential for vibration problems. Nearly 1,000 scientists were expected to move into the building to conduct research on aging and drug abuse.

A consultant's presentation obtained by the Baltimore Sun found that more than 150 instruments needed to be shielded against vibrations.

Administrators did not say how much it would cost to renovate the old building.

The project manager that oversaw the finished design of the building blamed scientists' complaints on a reluctance to move into new offices that may have less space.