ABSA Update

President: Ben Fontes

What matters to you? This has been the focus of the ABSA Council for our membership and those interested in the profession of Biosafety. Whether it is responding directly to your queries, ideas and suggestions, carrying out the annual duties of the Association as our elected members, or anticipating member needs, the Council, along with the ABSA Office, Team Leaders, Committee Chairs, Task Force members and volunteers throughout the organization, are working on what matters to you.

2010 ABSA Conference, Denver, Colorado
Our 53rd Annual Biosafety Conference will be held from September 30 to October 6, 2010. Conference information can be accessed online at http://www.absaconference.org

  • Join us and hear about the latest news and best practices in Biosafety
  • Enhance your Biosafety knowledge and skills at one of our record breaking 30 Pre- Conference Professional Development Courses
  • Examine the latest products and technology in the exhibit hall
  • Network with your colleagues from all over the world at the premier gathering of Biosafety professionals

The Elizabeth R. Griffin (ERG) Foundation is currently working with ABSA and the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) to develop an international session at the 2010 ABSA Conference, designed for leaders and key members of Biosafety associations across the globe. More information regarding this exciting initiative will be shared in the near future.

What else matters to you?

  • Online web-based training program: The Professional Development Team (PDT) is getting ready to launch an Effective Biosafety Training online course, which will be the first of many targeted online courses to be offered to our members in the upcoming months. The PDT is using the results of the last member survey to map out future courses.
  • Access to free high quality training materials has been noted as an important need. The Training Tools Committee has created an opportunity for the open sharing of training materials between ABSA members. Please consider augmenting the items posted here by sharing samples with your colleagues to help complete the vision of a database full of relevant training slides by topic, quiz questions, case studies, and other training items.
  • Sharing best practices between Affiliates and Biosafety Association Leaders: The Affiliates Relations Committee and the ABSA Office has scheduled an exciting full day program on October 7, 2010, focused on Biosafety association management issues. Provisions have been made for remote participation if you are interested and cannot attend the event. An exciting program is planned and you can read more about this below.
  • Recognition: The Awards Committee relies on members linking up and taking a few moments to identify and submit the required documentation to nominate your colleagues who meet the criteria for honor recognition.
  • Credentialing: Many international members have expressed interest in ABSA's two credentialing programs. ABSA believes that the Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) credential is attainable for international members as many individuals practicing Biosafety outside of the U.S. are actively involved in their Biosafety community and engaged in the practice of Biosafety. However, the Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP) is not currently designed for our international members. ABSA is aware that this matters for our international members and colleagues. We have created a Task Force to explore the potential of establishing an International CBSP or RBP. This will be a daunting effort and one that may take some time, but we recognize the tremendous value this may hold for those outside the U.S.

Our surveys, your emails, phone calls, faxes, letters and verbal comments are all mechanisms for relaying information to the ABSA Council and Office. Please keep your queries coming in, because what matters to you matters to us.

A copy of the ABSA Activities Report presented at the June 2010 International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) meeting, which highlights ABSA's domestic and international outreach efforts, is available at the bottom of the President's page at http://www.absa.org/aboprespage.html.

Best regards,
Ben Fontes, ABSA President


This has been a very busy quarter for the ABSA Professional Development Team (PDT).

The Advisory Leadership Group (ALG) has been meeting bi-monthly since March as the finishing touches are applied to a new webinar course, "Effective Biosafety Training". Look for this course to be launched in the next month. In addition, the ALG has worked with the Preconference Course Committee (former EOC, chaired by Kelly Flint) to finalize the preconference courses for this year's conference.

Preconference Course Committee
Chairs: Kelly Flint & Je'T Newton
The Preconference Courses for the ABSA Conference in Denver will be held September 30th through October 3rd,  2010. A list of the courses and registration are online at [link deleted].

Principles and Practices of Biosafety Committee
Chairs: Louann Burnett & Paul Jennette
The summer 2010 Principles & Practices of Biosafety (PPB) course was held July 11 through 16 in Portland, OR. The next PPB Course will also be offered March 6-11, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Please check the ABSA website for location and registration information. (http://www.absa.org/eduppb.html).

Review Course Committee
Chair: Rita D'Angelo
The 2010 review course was offered in March. Enrollment was down over past years. Overall course evaluations were very positive.

Improvements to the course this year included:

  • A learning assessment administered before and after the course. The assessment was to gauge knowledge transfer improvement after attending the course. Scores indicated a 38% improvement after course completion.
  • A required pre-course e-module. This module reviewed the NRCM eligibility requirements as well as CBSP eligibility requirements to ensure course attendees were aware of these requirements prior to taking the course as this has been an issue in the past
  • A skill and drill CD containing questions and information for self study. Five optional post-course study group sessions each geared toward a specific NRCM domain.

Due to decreased course enrollment over past years, the exam and course timing were reviewed this year. The committee checked into moving the exam or the course to a different time of the year.

Regarding moving the exam, the Academy responded that due to low enrollment, it would not be feasible to offer the exam more than once per year, and if a request to move the exam was submitted, this would have to be approved by the NRCM Exam Board (comprised of chairs from the five different NRCM Exam Committees, one being Biosafety) who would consider committee member and Academy staff availability at that time of year. The exam was moved from June to October to coincide with the ABSA conference, but now can be taken any time in October. It was noted that Spring is a very busy time for Academy staff, so the likelihood of approval is probably low.

The committee's conclusion was to not pursue requesting the exam be moved from October and to keep the review course as a Spring Seminar Series offering. This allows study time prior to the exam, the original reason for moving the course from October to Spring. The committee felt that the decrease in enrollment was more likely due to the economic downturn rather than when the course was offered.

Distance Learning Committee
Chairs: Stacey Kraemer & Maryjo Lanzillotta
The second Disinfection Webinar was offered in November 2009 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.

Instructor Evaluation and Catalog Working Group Chairs: Patricia Cox & Madeline Dalrymple
The 2009 IRC pre-conference course "OPPORTUNITIES AND LIMITATIONS WITH ELECTRONIC TRAINING SOLUTIONS" was taught by Sean G. Kaufman, MPH, CHES, CPH, Emory University, Atlanta, GA in Miami. This course was a valuable learning opportunity for all biosafety professionals interested in e-learning.

Training Tools Committee
Chair: Hallie Heaney
The Training Tools Committee has recently uploaded new photographs to be used for future biosafety presentations. The committee will be working with the ABSA staff to increase awareness and solicit additional items for the website.

Training Tools website http://www.absa.org/trainingtools.html

Team Leaders: Bill Homovec

Technical and Regulatory Review Committee Chair: Bill Homovec

  • The TRR reviewed a specific proposed revision the NIH OBA Guidelines announced on April 22, 2010 regarding synthetic DNA. Comments were prepared and forwarded to council. Council reviewed and edited those comments. The president submitted them to the OBA
  • The TRR reviewed the draft American Public Health Association (APHL)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Core Biosafety Level Competencies for Laboratorians. Comments were prepared and reviewed by council. The council approved the comments, and they were submitted to APHL/CDC via the national ABSA office.
  • The TRR is has reviewed the OSHA request for information regarding infectious diseases announced in the Federal Register on May 6, 2010.
  • The TRR is currently reviewing the CDC document, "Guidelines for Safe Work Practices in Clinical Diagnostic Laboratories". This document is a work product of a writing group assembled following the meeting of the CDC Blue Ribbon Panel Issues in Clinical Laboratory Safety on May 16, 2008.

Team leader: John Balog

Philanthropic Committee
Chairs: Craig Welence & Barbara Johnson
The Philanthropic Committee has sent an e-mail to its members with possible projects and suggestions for funding and is seeking additional thoughts on attainable goals and projects. The web page is running and we have received 2 inquiries.  We will be providing further definition on the web page as there is some confusion as to the mission of the committee and who is eligible for assistance.

Affiliate Relations Committee
Chairs: Jennifer Gaudioso & Rocio Harrelson
ARC has responded to requests from the Mexican Biosafety Association and a potential New Mexico Local Affiliate on the process of becoming an ABSA affiliate.

As a result of interest last year in Miami by US based affiliates and the AfBSA visit to the ABSA office in May, ARC is working with the ABSA office to organize a full day affiliate roundtable after the conference in Denver, focusing on biosafety association management issues. This will also be broadcasted live via WebEx so that affiliate leaders that cannot attend the conference can also benefit. More information will be posted at www.absa.org in the Affiliate News page and in the ABSA Conference page.

Awards Committee
Chair: Judy LaDuc
Our committee has been rewriting the descriptions for the awards so that members have a better understanding of who the awards were given in memory of, as well as the intent of the awards.

I would welcome new members to the Awards committee. Why wouldn't you want to be on a committee that recognizes people for their achievements and makes them happy? Join us!

To view the Awards and to submit Award Nominations go to http://www.absa.org/bioawards.html.

Team Leaders: Barbara Johnson & Jairo Betancourt

Scientific Program Committee
Chairs: Rob Heckert & Rich Fink
The SPC continues to make good progress in setting the program agenda for this year's conference. The committee has agreed on having five roundtable discussions on timely topics, is in the process of confirming all the main guest speakers, and is completing reviews of all the submitted abstracts. This year's program will again include a large range of platform presentations and posters on a variety of interesting biosafety topics. Platform and poster presenters will be notified very soon regarding acceptance of their abstract for this year's meeting. The program should be available soon at www.absa.org


2011 Local Arrangements Committee
Chairs: Mimi Tom & Natasha Griffith
The 2011 Local Arrangements Committee is in the process of planning and selecting Venues for the 2011 Conference in Anaheim.

International Task Force
Chairs: Rocio Harrelson & Patricia Delarosa

The International Task Force plans to conduct a review of potential ways in which all our Teams and Committees can be more aware of international needs, and if an International Committee can be effective to meet such needs.

ABSA Elections

The 2010 ABSA elections will be electronic using Zoomerang. Please make sure that the ABSA Office has an email address that will allow you to participate by receiving emails from Zoomerang or [email protected]. We will post more information on the ABSA website as it becomes available.

NEW ABSA Brochures for Members
ABSA recently published two new brochures, Biosafety and the Profession and Professional Credentials in Biosafety. Biosafety and the Profession describes biosafety and biosafety professionals and can be useful for students, employers, the public, and those who are interested in the profession. Professional Credentials in Biosafety discusses ABSA's two credentials, the Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) and the Certified Biosafety Professional (CBSP). Professional Credentials in Biosafety could be useful to employers, biosafety professionals, or the public. Both brochures are available for download at www.absa.org If you are giving a presentation and would like to distribute brochures to the participants please contact the ABSA Office for hard copies.

NEW CBSP/RBP Emeritus Application
ABSA now has an Emeritus status for CBSP/RBPs. If you have retired from professional biosafety work, you may qualify for Emeritus status. CBSP/RBP members wishing to obtain Emeritus status should contact the ABSA Office. To be eligible for Emeritus Membership the applicant must be a CBSP or RBP in good standing, retired, and no longer gainfully employed in professional biosafety work.

USDA ARS - 1st International Agricultural Biosafety and Biocontainment Symposium
The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) is planning the 1st International Agricultural Biosafety and Biocontainment Symposium to be held February 6-9, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. ARS is partnering with The American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) who will be managing the Symposium. The theme of the Symposium will be Animal Production & Protection: Challenges, Risks, and Best Practices. The main topics of the Symposium will be Agriculture Research Infrastructure Challenges, Aquaculture, Arthropods, Risk in Research and Field Work, Regulatory Changes and Response, and One Health. The symposium will be 2 1/2 days and will also feature 6 pre symposium courses and exhibit. More Information is available at http://arssymposium.absa.org.

Calendar Members Only