Fall 2015​

​Through a recent CDC cooperative agreement, APHL is helping public health laboratories to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity.

Laboratory technicial working in a biosafety cabinet

A laboratory technician works in a biosafety cabinet at the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health

​​In the spring of 2015, APHL was awarded a $2.2 million cooperative agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assist public health laboratories to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity practices, and to develop guidance and tools to support public health laboratory outreach to sentinel clinical laboratories.

Now APHL is launching activities to meet these objectives. They include:

  • Outreach to Public Health Laboratories: APHL subject matter experts and CDC representatives are holding quarterly calls with public health laboratories that received Ebola supplemental funding through CDC's Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement. The calls allow APHL to identify biosafety issues confronting public health laboratories and share related guidance, while CDC is able to gauge progress on ELC activities.
  • Training: APHL will deliver training via workshops, webinars and other modalities. Instruction is urgently needed in packaging and shipping of infectious substances and conducting risk assessments.
  • Communities of Practice: APHL will create online forums to facilitate information sharing among biosafety professionals/officers at public health laboratories. Their numbers are increasing as a result of new funding to enhance laboratory biosafety and biosecurity. Currently APHL is collecting contact information for these professionals.
  • Online Repository: In response to feedback on the need for risk assessment templates, outreach models and training courses, APHL will create an online repository of such tools accessible from a central location.
  • New Committee: APHL has established a Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee that will develop biosafety and biosecurity guidance materials, address policy issues and design tools to support risk assessments in both public health and clinical facilities. APHL’s Board of Directors approved an interim position statement on the value of strong biosafety practices. Dr. Michael Pentella, director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute, chairs the committee. Members are drawn from state and local public health laboratories, CDC, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, the American Biological Safety Association and the American Society for Microbiology.

Moving forward, APHL will continue to guide laboratory practice to protect the health and safety of laboratory workers and the public. The association will assess laboratory baseline readiness and capture successes and challenges identified through the initiative.

For more information on APHL activities and tools, including a template for Risk Assessment for Ebola Virus Disease, contact Rinki Goswami, MS, specialist, Biosafety and Biosecurity, 240-485-2737, rinki.goswami@aphl.org.