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We have been exploring the design of an advanced collaboration platform to support scientists in a national animal health laboratory to work collaboratively across a physical containment barrier. This paper describes the design considerations based on the findings from a field study of the collaboration processes in this particular environment. We emphasize the need of providing flexible support for various information sharing practices. The major component of the platform - a collaboration environment which integrates life-size video conferencing and a large shared digital workspace - has been under routine use. Our preliminary results from a user study of the distributed group meetings supported by the platform have shown the value of high quality audio-video communication in combination with the feature of allowing access and simultaneously sharing multiple data resources.