John Norman Norton
John Norman Norton

John Norton

Professor in Pathology


The Cancer Center Isolation Facility is a 30,000-square-foot, stand-alone building dedicated to cancer research that provides a physical plant able to support work with hazardous materials at biosafety level 2 or 3, recombinant DNA, chemotherapeutics, as well as the maintenance of immunosuppressed and specific pathogen-free rodents.

The building includes:

  • 8 modules containing: 3 lead-lined rooms, 27 animal holding rooms, and 6 laboratories
  • support areas for mechanical equipment, e.g., cage washing equipment, and
  • 22 operational autoclaves.

Each of the eight modules has an airlock to ensure containment and prevent cross-contamination. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system provides 100 percent fresh HEPA-filtered supply air to the modules. Exhaust air is not recirculated and is HEPA filtered prior to being exhausted from each module. Class 1, 2, and 3 biosafety cabinets are available in these modules for handling hazardous chemical and biological materials. Charcoal filters are used with HEPA filters to exhaust air from the rooms where chemical carcinogens are handled.

Each module is equipped with double-door pass-through autoclaves and double-door pass-through boxes to decontaminate equipment. The support areas include:

  • two cage washrooms equipped with two double-length rack washers and a glass washer
  • locker rooms and lavatories for men and women
  • administrative offices, a break room, an environmental services closet, and
  • staging area for the preparation and storage of equipment

Biologically contaminated liquid waste is collected in two 2600-gallon underground concrete effluent tanks where it is treated with concentrated chlorine for two hours to achieve decontamination before disposal. Hazardous solid wastes are steam sterilized. An incinerator is available for incinerating chemical carcinogen waste.

The CCIF is staffed with 14 Comparative Medicine Specialist (CMS) technicians, who provide animal husbandry and support services for the facility. All animals receive health assessments and any necessary veterinary care daily, including weekends and holidays.


  • 33 laboratories for animal holding/research purposes
  • ABSL-2/Hazardous chemical containment capability
  • A collaborative environment dedicated to cancer research
  • Veterinary services
  • Diagnostic services
  • Husbandry services
  • Athymic mouse and Nod SCID gamma (NSG) breeding colonies
  • Animal or experimental protocol consults, including the provision of technical services
  • Surgical and Breeding consults
  • Xenogen live animal imaging support
  • Xenograft lines
  • Environmental Safety/Occupational Health services

Animal Holding Rooms/Laboratories

  • 53 140 Cage Ventilated Animal Racks Allentown
  • 42 70 Cage Ventilated Animal Racks Allentown
  • 11,000 Mouse Micro-barrier Units (Complete Cage Set-ups) Allentown
  • 34 Animal Change Stations, 4 ft Allentown/Nuaire
  • 18 Class II Biological Safety Cabinets Baker Company
  • 1 Xenogen Luciferase Imager Xenogen
  • Facility Support
  • 2 Double Length Rack Washers LYNX
  • 1 Glass/Bottle Washer STERIS
  • 6 Cage Wash Racks AMSCO
  • 50 Stainless Steel Autoclave Cage Trucks Ancare
  • 2 Bulk Steam Sterilizers BetaStar
  • 20 Steam Sterilizer (various sizes) AMSCO
  • 1 Ultra-low Chest Freezer Fisher Scientific
  • 2 Liquid Nitrogen, LTF Harris
  • 1 Liquid Nitrogen, LTF MVE
  • 2 Chest Freezers

Accessibility and Request for Use


The CCIF operates on 24 hours a day, 7 days-a-week schedule. Investigators and their staff have access to their animal holding rooms and/or laboratories at all times through security access proximity card readers. DCI members are given priority for the assignment of space in CCIF.

Request for Use

Investigators wishing to utilize space in the facility submit a request describing their experimental needs to the CCIF Scientific Advisory Committee via Mr. St. Pierre. Each request is reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee for its relevance to cancer biology and the mission of the DCI. Laboratory hazards are reviewed, and a risk assessment is determined by Dr. Norton and the Occupational and Environmental Safety Office (OESO), directed by Dr. Wayne Thomann. Based on these evaluations as well as the space and equipment needed by the investigator and facility availability, the Scientific Advisory Committee makes a recommendation to Dr. Norton, who is responsible for making all space assignments in the facility. Space assignment is generally made on a first-come, first-served basis to DCI members with peer-reviewed cancer research funding.


Per diem charges are used to recover the cost of the staff necessary to meet users' needs, including animal care and routine facility maintenance, as well as costs of caging, food, bedding, equipment, and personal protective equipment needed to operate in the facility. Procurement of food, bedding, personal protective equipment, and any other husbandry supplies is centralized through the Operations Manager, Mr. St. Pierre. The current per diem rate for CCIF users is $1.06 per cage per day. Monthly billing is handled by DLAR administrative staff.


  • Keith St. Pierre, Operations Manager, 919-681-7440


15 Genome Ct., Durham, NC

This page was reviewed on 09/18/2023