Public health laboratory biosafety officers—the scientists charged with preventing disease transmission inside laboratories and to the local community—must be strong leaders who can embrace change, manage people and processes, and anticipate future needs.
In September 2017, with support from CDC, APHL launched the first in a series of leadership workshops for biosafety officers at the state public health laboratory in Hawaii. The workshop series is designed to develop the skills of biosafety officers at US public health laboratories, including state, local, territorial and US-Affiliated Pacific Island laboratories.
At the first workshop, 14 scientists from public health laboratories in Hawaii and the US Affiliated Pacific Islands, the University of Hawaii and Vietnam joined in four days of training. Sessions examined leadership qualities, project management, public policy, communications, building training programs and implementing evaluation measures.
In addition to these leadership workshops, APHL is helping public health laboratories build biosafety and biosecurity capacity in other ways: hiring biosafety staff, updating protocols, training clinical and public health laboratory staff, and engaging partners. The association:
- Serves as a Subject Matter Expert, providing guidance and support to public health laboratories and resources for outreach to strengthen biosafety practices at clinical laboratories
- Maintains a Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee where members guide the development of resources (e.g., risk assessment templates, checklists)
- Convenes Biosafety Partners Forums, bringing together representatives from federal and non-governmental organizations to discuss opportunities to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity in clinical and public health laboratories
- Maintains a Community of Practice where biosafety officers from public health laboratories can exchange information and seek assistance from colleagues
- Offers a Biosafety Peer Network which pairs biosafety officers from public health laboratories for mentorship, site visits and knowledge exchange
- Conducts Site Visits that provide recommendations to assist labs with workflow and other safety initiatives
- Offers Educational Opportunities
- In partnership with Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions, offers a monthly webinar series, BioSafe360
- Convenes webinars to share experiences in outreach to clinical laboratories, lessons learned from exercises and proficiency testing, and technical information from risk assessments and other sources
- Offers technical workshops
- Promotes Biosafety and Biosecurity initiatives via APHL communications
- Facilitates Public Policy discussions including a Biosafety Position Statement and fact sheets for Congressional staff and other policy makers.
- Strengthens Biosafety Practices Globally
- Partnered with CRDF Global to support Global Fellowship Programs such as the Robin Copeland Memorial Fellowship
- Delivered a Biological Safety Cabinet Training in selected African countries
- Conducted reviews of biosafety practices and policies in Ghana, and provided recommendations and a template for a countrywide Biorisk Management Framework
For more information about APHL's biosafety and biosecurity initiatives, contact APHL's Director of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Chris Mangal, MPH.