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Immunogenetics Research Facility

Immungenetics Research Facility


Front Immunogenetics Research Facility Design World Class
On February 27, 2003, the James Cook University announced completion of construction of the Immunogenetics Research Facility at the Comparative Genomics Centre, James Cook University. Built on the University's Douglas campus in Townsville, the facility provides state-of-the-art housing for the Centre's research into the genetic and environmental risk factors for a range of diseases, including childhood diabetes, gastritis and lupus.
The facility was designed to provide six specific pathogen-free (SPF), environment-controlled mouse housing rooms with conditions optimised for the study of immune mediated disease. It features a shower-in, split-system in order to prevent incidental infections and will be rated as a PC2 laboratory to conform to OGTR requirments for the housing of transgenic mice. All goods entering the facility are autoclaved, decontaminated or disinfected. All animal holding rooms are ventilated with HEPA-filtered air maintained at 19 ± 1.5 C. One room is configured as an AQIS quarantine room and an additional room is capable of being configured as either an SPF holding room, or else as an additional quarantine room.


  • Floor area of 770m2, of which 40% is associated with the air handling system and  plant associated with disaster management.
  • Incorporates the highest standard of environmental control available for an animal house in Australia.
  • Houses up to 15,000 mice with a staff of up to 7 attendants.
  • Integrates animal attendants with general laboratory staff with outdoor common meeting area.

Air Handling Unit

  • Incoming fresh air is conditioned in a three stage process:
    • Preconditioned by a two pass air-to-air plate exchange against the exhaust air.
    • Dehumidified and part-cooled a two-pass, figure of eight, air-to-air plate heat exchange against air chilled by cooling coil.
    • Fine environmental condition control involving either further cooling by passing the air over chilled water cooling coils, or heating by duct mounted electric heating banks.
  • Each holding room receives 15 air changes/hour (225 l/s) with 100% of used air discarded, provided through independent, 99.97% effective HEPA filters with a room pressure of +30 Pascals.
  • Holding rooms are maintained at 19C±1.5C and humidity 40-50% despite external conditions of down to 5C and low humidity in winter up to 40C and 90% humidity in summer.

Microbiological control

  • Intake air for the animal holding rooms is treated with a four-pass air filtration system:
      • Deep Bed filters at the pre-conditioning unit - 23% filtration to No.1 test dust.
      • Deep Bed filters at the Animal Holding Rooms  air handling unit - 23% filtration to No.1 test dust.
      • Panel filters within the plantroom mounted filter boxes - 20% filtration to No.1  dust.
      • High Efficiency Absolute HEPA filters within the plantroom mounted filter boxes - 99.97% filtration to No.1 test dust.
  • Advanced drinking water handling unit incorporating both UV sterilisation and reverse osmosis purification.
  • Unidirectional operator flow design with a shower-in, dual corridor access.
  • Facility decontamination with gaseous formaldehyde prior to commissioning.


  • Computerised control of holding room light levels, allowing operator override
  • 12/12 light/dark cycles

CheeseDisaster management

  • Main power redundancy by direct incorporation into ring main.
  • 225kW backup generator.
  • Chiller system operates off stored chilled water.
  • Passive temperature control with concrete floor, walls and ceilings of holding rooms.

Production team:

  • Architect: Peter Scott from Tippett Schrock
  • Consultant: Alan Hughes from SB Autoclaves
  • Air handling: Trevor Henderson from Ashburner Francis
  • Hydraulics: Bob Parker from Parker Hydraulics
  • Liaison: Les Brice from Central Services
  • Builder: John Schultz from Abigroup