ABSA Update

President: Ben Fontes

Greetings Colleagues:
I'm excited to provide you with a brief quarterly update of the activities of your ABSA Council. Although it has only been three months since departing with information overload at what was a sensational annual conference, the volunteers who comprise the Council have been very busy working on your behalf. I'm providing a bulleted list of major accomplishments or projects underway. News

  • Joe Kozlovac and his Historical Committee have completed their work to formally categorize and preserve our unique history in a special "ABSA Collection at the National Agricultural Laboratory." The information that they worked so diligently to compile has been assembled systematically by year and category and begins with records that predate ABSA in 1949 and culminates with records through our 50th Anniversary conference in 2007. This is truly an exceptional achievement and although we've thanked Joe and his committee for their efforts, don't hesitate to let them know how much this is appreciated. The link for the ABSA Collection link can be on the ABSA webpage at http://www.absa.org/abohistory.html. The next phase of this project will be to fill-in any gaps that exist in our records where possible. The Historical Committee will be soliciting input from the membership to provide any assistance in tracking down pertinent information.
  • Dr. Dawn Wooley was selected as the recipient of the 2009 Elizabeth R. Griffin Foundation grant for her proposal to obtain data on the shedding of viral vectors in mouse experiments.
  • San Diego has been selected as the site of the 2014 ABSA Conference.
  • The Professional Development Team (PDT) held a strategic planning retreat in November 2009 with an emphasis on preparing for the future needs of our members and the profession. We look forward to their final report in the upcoming weeks.
  • A new Task Force has been formed to establish a graduate level course curriculum for Biosafety. Past-President Robert Ellis, PhD, will be working with ABSA members who teach or have taught biosafety courses at their institutions on this effort.
  • One of ABSA's quietest, yet most productive, committees, the Technical and Regulatory Review Committee, has developed draft comments to the recent "Screening Framework Guidance for Synthetic Double Stranded DNA Providers," which was published in the November 27, 2010 Federal Register DNA Synthesis. I'd like to personally thank Council liaison LouAnn Burnett and Bill Homovec and his team for getting this accomplished as these comment letters are signed by the ABSA President.
  • The Legislative Committee, led by Josh Goldberg, is assisting ABSA with a response to Title I of the proposed Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009, S 1649.
  • The Council approved the new Shared Interest Group (SIG) Committee. The Chair of the SIG Committee is Anil Saxena. This committee will oversee the different shared interest groups within biosafety that are requested by ABSA members. Shared interest groups will each have their own listserve where they can discuss topics related to their professional interests within biosafety. Occupational health and biosecurity shared interest groups have already been formed.


  • ABSA will provide two presentations at the upcoming 11th CDC Biosafety Symposium later this month in Atlanta.
  • ABSA has signed a contract to manage the 2011 USDA ARS International Veterinary Biosafety Symposium, which will be held in the DC area.
  • ABSA will sponsor the 2010 Emory Leadership Series.
  • ABSA was asked to nominate two representatives for potential participation in a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) International High Containment Lab Oversight Committee. The Council awaits NAS feedback on the nominations.
  • ABSA has just formed an alliance with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

International Activities

  • ABSA has agreed to participate in the CEN Workshop 55 that will develop a guidance document to assist with the implementation of the 2008 Laboratory Biorisk Standard (CWA 15793:2009). Patty Olinger and Chris Thompson will continue their work on this effort on behalf of the organization.
  • ABSA has also signed-on to assist with the CEN Workshop on Biosafety Professional Competencies. Paul Meechan and Rich Rebar will lead this effort for ABSA and will work with all relevant ABSA Teams and Committees to ensure that all aspects of professional biosafety competency are addressed.
  • The International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA, formerly the International Biosafety Working Group [IBWG]) has announced plans for an International Biosafety Conference tentatively scheduled for early 2011 in Asia. ABSA has been asked to support the initiative by sponsorship and the consideration of supporting a delegate to participate in the conference. The Council will be working on this initiative over the next year as IFBA refines its focus for the event. For more information on IFBA, please go to: http://www.internationalbiosafety.org/

As ABSA is only as good as the much appreciated efforts of our members and office staff, I'd like to thank all of you for your continued support of our organization. A special thank you to all of our of our volunteer leaders(Council, Teams, and Committees), all of which are listed on the ABSA website at http://www.absa.org/abomenu.html. Again, as this update only contains highlights of the activities, please don't hesitate to contact me or any ABSA Council member for additional information related to these items or ABSA. We welcome and look forward to your input and continued support.

With warmest regards,
Ben Fontes,
ABSA President

Team Leader: Patrick McKinney
This has been another exciting quarter for the ABSA Professional Development Team (PDT). We welcome a new team leader, Patrick McKinney, who is working closely with the ABSA Director of Education and committee chairs to continue the PDT mission. We have completed the 2009 pre-conference courses in Miami are busy preparing for the upcoming Principles and Practices of Biosafety and Spring Seminar in March. The final reports are forthcoming for the two CDC grants made in 2009 for ABSA's biosafety education and training program. The PDT membership survey results are in and the strategic planning session was held in November 2009. The report from the survey and the session will be available soon. It will outline areas of improvement for better operation and service to ABSA members.

If you are interested in volunteering or sharing your ideas with the PDT, please contact the ABSA office.

Curriculum Development Committee
Chairs: Esmeralda Prat & Betsy Weirich
The Curriculum Development Committee offered an introductory level Risk Assessment preconference course at the 2009 Annual Conference in Miami. New modules are under development now, so if you are interested in volunteering or participating in any of these planned working groups, please contact the ABSA office.

Educational Operations Committee
Chairs: Kelly Flint & Jennifer Daniely (Pre-Conference Courses)
Cheryl Lemanski & Rita D'Angelo (Seminar Series)

The next Principles & Practices of Biosafety course will be held February 28 - March 5, 2010 in Ft. Lauderdale, Forida. Please check the ABSA website for location and registration information at http://www.absa.org/eduppb.html.

The 2010 ABSA Certification Review Course and Seminar Series will be held March 15 - 18, 2010 in New Orleans, LA. Seminar Series topics include how to improve your biosafety program management and training. Please check the ABSA website for location and registration information at http://www.absa.org/edureview.html.

The 2010 preconference courses are being solicited now for selection in early 2010. Check the ABSA website for a proposal form at http://www.absa.org/educonf.html.

Instructional Technologies Committee
Chairs: Maryjo Lanzillotta & Stacey Kraemer
The second Disinfection Webinar was offered this November as ABSA utilizes improved distance learning technologies. Some key Scientific Program sessions were captured during the annual conference for evaluation. Efforts are underway to determine the next distance learning venues and topics to be offered. If you are interested in volunteering or participating in any of these distance learning development opportunities, please contact the ABSA office.

Instructional Resources Committee
Chairs: Madeline Dalrymple & Patricia Cox
The 2009 IRC pre-conference course "OPPORTUNITIES AND LIMITATIONS WITH ELECTRONIC TRAINING SOLUTIONS" was taught by Sean G. Kaufman, MPH, CHES, CPH, from Emory University. This course was a valuable learning opportunity for all biosafety professionals interested in e-learning.

Training Tools Committee
Chairs: Hallie Heaney
The Training Tools Committee has created all the submission forms on the ABSA website, which are currently available at http://www.absa.org/trainingtools.html. Please take a look at this new tool that provides training and professional resources for ABSA members.

Publications Committee
Chairs: Joany Jackman
Welcome the new Publications Chair, Joany Jackman, as we look forward to exciting new journal articles and Anthologies in 2010.

Team Leader: Barbara Johnson

Exhibitor Advisory Committee (EAC)
Chairs: Steve Sowa

Scientific Program Committee (SPC)
Chairs: Rich Fink & Robert Heckert
Rich Fink and Rob Heckert are the new Chairs of the SPC. Next month, the SPC will be reviewing the list of topics recommended by participants from the Miami conference and identifying the theme, topics and invited speakers for the 2010 conference. The conference will be 3 days long to accommodate concurrent sessions. The call for abstracts is available at http://www.absa.org/educonf.html

Local Arrangements Committee (LAC)
Chairs: Lolly Gardiner, Julie Forster, Claudia Gentry-Weeks & Jo-An Lindstrom
The 2010 Local Arrangements Committee has been planning the conference for over a year and selected a great location for the closing banquet; the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. The closing banquet will be held on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. The Committee is in the process of reviewing caterers for the dinner. The committee is selecting the speaker gift at this time and has a gift idea that is unique to the American West…

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