ABSA Update

ABSA Council


Hello ABSA Colleagues!

Hello ABSA Colleagues-The last quarter has been a very busy for most of us. The revelations concerning potential anthrax exposures at CDC, the discovery of 50 year old smallpox vials at NIH, the disclosure that low pathogenic avian influenza samples had been contaminated with H5N1 HPAI and shipped to a USDA lab, and the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearings in July all prompted a flurry of news stories and calls for changes in US biosafety oversight programs. In addition, as the outbreak of Ebola worsened and spread in Africa, the public was once again shocked into awareness of biosafety issues when two American medical personnel infected with Ebola were transported back to the US for treatment.

ABSA has responded to these situations with a preliminary white paper to remind stakeholders of the existence of the BMBL, NIH Guidelines, CWA 15793 and other guidance documents, in response to assertions that there are no national guidelines. The Legislative Committee, under the leadership of Alexis Brubaker and Bill Homovec, drafted a 3 page response entitled: "High Containment Laboratories, Recent Incidents of Biosafety Lapses" which was sent to members of Congress, ABSA members, the White House, members of the media, scientific publications, and related associations.

In addition, an ABSA Unified Oversight Task Force has been formed; the charge is to help define ABSA's position and provide recommendations and insight to Council, members and stakeholders concerning some of the potential US changes. These could include new national standards for working with infectious agents, registration for use of all infectious agents, or reduction in the number of high containment labs. The Task Force is also going to propose strategies for promoting the use of the ABSA High Containment Accreditation program in response to the perceived lack of oversight.

In response to these recent events, the International Forum at the San Diego Conference on Sunday Oct 5, 2-4 pm will offer US and international speakers on the topic of Infectious Agent Registration programs. This session is open to everyone and will qualify for 0.25 Certification Maintenance (CM) points.

Beyond the crises, ABSA has been working on other projects. The Ethics Taskforce has completed their task with distinction and deserves our collective thanks. An Ethics Board P&P has been written and is currently with the Bylaws committee for review. We will be providing the full details at the San Diego conference.

We have applied for Liaison status with ISO for the proposed conversion of CWA 15793 (Laboratory Biorisk Management) to an ISO technical document or international standard. This will allow us to provide ABSA experts for any revised document generated by the ISO Technical Committee. The first meeting is scheduled for September 15 in Toronto, Canada.

Finally, we are completing a partnership agreement with our European colleagues in EBSA. This partnership will help ABSA and EBSA coordinate positions regarding biosafety and biorisk management. It will also allow RBP and CBSP credentialed professionals attending EBSA events to obtain CM points without additional evaluation by ABSA, making it easier for European colleagues to maintain their credentials.

Paul Meechan
ABSA President

Distance Learning Committee

Co-Chairs: MaryJo Lanzillotta and Kathleen Kennedy

The DLC is working on creating several other new courses for the remainder of the year. To view the current list of professional development opportunities, please visit the ABSA - Education webpage (http://www.absa.org/edumenu.html). Please invite your colleagues, non-members or other professionals are invited to attend.

Principles & Practices of Biosafety

Co-Chairs: Paul Jennette and Jeff Owens

The instructors completed the overhaul of the interactive exercises and launched them at the July offering of PPB. The next offering of the Principles and Practices of Biosafety course will be February 23-27, 2015 at the Embassy Suites-Historic Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina. To register for the course please visit (http://www.absa.org/eduppb.html).

Leadership Institute

Leaders: Sean Kaufman and Jim Welch

The Leadership Institute incorporates presentations, experiences, activities, and mentoring sessions into the daily schedule to enhance each participants take away experience. The 2015 Leadership Institute will be in the Atlanta, GA area with a focus on leadership and developing the culture of safety in laboratories.

Certification Review Course Committee

Co-Chairs: Rita D'Angelo and Willie Wong

The Advanced Biosafety Training Modules (Certification Review Course Modules) have been updated by the instructors. Registration for these on-demand modules can be found at (http://www.absa.org/educbsp.html).

Preconference Course Committee

Co-Chairs: Corrie Ntiforo and Carrie Smith

The Preconference Course Committee (PCC) facilitators are in the process of finalizing course material with the instructors for printing. Registration for classes is open and classes are filling up. The Preconference Course Committee is looking forward to an exciting three days of courses being offered at the conference in San Diego, California from October 3-8, 2014. For more information go to (http://www.absaconference.org).


Co-Editors: Karen Byers and Barbara Johnson

Applied Biosafety, Volume 19, no.2 is complete. The goal is to broaden understanding of biosafety, and provide information relevant to ABSA member progra. Do you need advice on the Select Agent Registration Process, managing your cooling tower, or field research in remote settings? Or are you working on safety in large animal progra, environmental monitoring in sterile compounding facilities, directional airflow and risk assessment, or salary analyses? Summaries of references on biosafety in teaching laboratories, safe handling of N. meningitidis, and evaluation of a rapid readout biological indicator are also included in Volume 19, no.2. If you are interested in submitting an article to the journal, please submit one at (www.x-cd.com/absa/article.cfm). Applied Biosafety offers advertising opportunities-please contact Karen Savage at ([email protected]).

Journal Appreciation and Transition
The Co-editors of Applied Biosafety would like to extend their sincerest thanks to Felix Gmuender of Basler & Hofmann for his years of service as Associate Editor and Capsule author. We are pleased to welcome David Gillum of Arizona State University as the transitioning incoming Associate Editor and our new Capsule authors, Sherry Bohn of National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center and Robert Rasmussen of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Scientific Program Committee

Co-Chairs: Shelley Jones and Darlene Ward

The Scientific Program Committee has been working diligently to set the agenda for the conference proceedings and has completed the Preliminary Program Proceedings for this year's conference. It can be viewed at: http://absaconference.org/. Some of the highlights for this year's program include:

There will also be two round tables. The first will focus on Occupational Health with Dr. Gary Fujimoto and Dr. Thomas Winters. The second will be a discussion of Flow Cytometry with Dr. Kevin Holmes starting the dialogue.

In addition, there will be 29 posters ranging from Biosafety Program Management to Training. Plus many more exciting, relevant, biosafety topics that the SPC is pleased to be able to bring to conference. We look forward to seeing everyone in San Diego.

Local Arrangements Committee

Co-Chairs: Sylvie Blondelle and Laurence Cagnon

During the second quarter, the Local Arrangements Committee has secured the banquet entertainment and transportation. They have selected gifts for conference attendees and speakers. They continued marketing the conference through the southern California ABSA affiliate meetings and on the affiliate website, and by approaching representatives of potential vendors visiting their respective affiliations. Finally, they completed a visitor brochure, which is posted on the conference website to assist attendees and their guests exploring San Diego during the conference.

Exhibitors Advisory Committee

Chair: Gary Lindsey

This year at the 57th Annual Biological Safety Conference in San Diego, California there are 103 exhibit booths available. The Exhibitor Prospectus has been sent to last year's vendors and potential future participants. NEW for 2014, ABSA will offer exhibit only passes to exhibitors and for individuals who are only interested in seeing the exhibits. If you are interested in the exhibits, please contact Karen Savage at the ABSA Office ([email protected]).

Publications Committee

Co-Chairs: Bruce Whitney and David Gillum

The Publications Committee has submitted a Guest Editorial for Applied Biosafety, titled: "What is a Publishable Article?" It is to be published in Volume 19, Number 3, 2014. The committee is working on a set of articles focused on Laboratory Acquired Infections to be published in Applied Biosafety. The committee is working on an Anthology XV Communication and Training. The committee is also working on a justification page to help ABSA members to justify their attendance at the annual ABSA meeting.

Training Tools/Resources Committee

Co-Chairs: Eleanor Low and David Harbourt

The Training Tools and Resources Committee have reviewed several submissions which will be added to the Training Tools and Resources website. Be sure to visit the webpage to view these new submissions or to submit a new training tool or resource at (http://www.absa.org/trainingtools.html).

Learning Verification Committee

Co-Chairs: Chris Jenkins and Nikki Drazenovich

The Learning Verification Committee has been tasked with generating online material for which ABSA members can earn CM points. To start, the LVC (formerly LVWG) focused on quizzes from Applied Biosafety journals during each 5-year ABSA RBP/ renewal cycle. Other resources available to ABSA members are also being considered as well to obtain CM points. The LVC has generated two sets of quizzes that are currently available for purchase 1 CM point each. Registration for the quizzes can be found at (http://www.absa.org/eduonline.html). The committee is looking to have another quiz ready in the next few months and assignments are on-going for 3 additional quizzes on a quarterly cycle.

Accreditation Board

Chair: Robert Hawley

As a result of Board discussions in April 2014, the Accreditation Flyer (tri-fold brochure) was modified to strengthen statements regarding the benefits of accreditation and return on investment. We are awaiting completion and publication of the flyer by the ABSA Office. The Accreditation Team is discussing the suggestion to consider accreditation of Biosafety Level 2 laboratories. The Accreditation Board is reviewing and updating information of the membership of the Accreditation Committees. The Accreditation Team has submitted their 2015 budget to the ABSA Office.

An institution seeking accreditation may apply to the ABSA Laboratory Accreditation Program at [email protected]. After you apply, the ABSA Laboratory Accreditation Program will initiate the steps required for the comprehensive on-site assessment. The entire process is confidential.

Additional information on the ABSA Accreditation Program can be found at http://www.absaaccreditation.org.

Legislative Committee

Co-Chairs: Alexis Brubaker and Debra Sharpe

During the month of July, the Legislative Committee reviewed CDC reports of biosafety incidents at its Atlanta campus, monitored Congressional hearing regarding these incidents, and initiated a review and discussion of the latest General Accounting Office report dated July 16, 2014 entitled, "High Containment Laboratories, Recent Incidents of Biosafety Lapses".

Technical and Regulatory Review Committee

Chair: Leslie Hofherr

In April, the TRR Committee prepared and forwarded comments to Council regarding a proposed City of Boston ordinance that would ban research designated as Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) within the city of Boston. In July, the TRR Committee began a review of the draft Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance document entitled, "Design and Analysis of Shielding Studies for Virus or Bacteria-based Gene Therapy and Oncolytic Products".


3rd International Biosafety & Biocontainment Symposium;
Biorisk Management in a One Health World
February 2-5, 2015
Baltimore, Maryland

Planning is underway for the USDA ARS 3rd International Biosafety & Biocontainment Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Symposium will feature courses, keynotes, expert presentations, exhibits, and posters. ABSA is again the managing partner of the Symposium. Go to http://www.arssymposium.absa.org for more information and updates. Please contact the ABSA Office at [email protected] if you have any questions or need additional information.

ABSA Owned Course Working Group

Chair: Pat Condreay

The ABSA-owned course working group will offer the Advanced Risk Assessment pre-conference course this year in San Diego, California. The working group is devising additional risk assessment scenarios for the interactive sessions. If you have scenario ideas to contribute, please contact Pat Condreay at ([email protected]).

NEW for 2014!

ABSA Conference Exhibit Only Passes!
ABSA will begin to offer exhibit only passes at the ABSA Conference in San Diego. Exhibitors will be given a limited number of passes and individuals will be able to purchase them at http://www.absaconference.org.

Biosafety Buyer's Guide
Due to membership demand ABSA has launched the Biosafety Buyer's Guide in March. The guide lists companies and consultants that provide biosafety related products and services. For more information, contact Ed Stygar at [email protected].

ABSA Job Board
Due to increasing expenses, there will now be a fee to post on the ABSA Job Board. However, we will also increase the visibility of the job board through different marketing avenues. The fees will be competitive and ABSA will offer a member discount.

Credentialing Maintenance Board

Co-Chairs: Krista Murray and Thomas Leonard

The Credentialing Maintenance Board (CMB) is tasked with the recredentialing of the s and RBPs. Both groups must recertify every 5 years. The statistics for the candidates completing their cycles at the end of 2013 are s had 37 candidates were due for renewal. Of these 37 candidates 25 were approved, 7 did not respond to the request to submit their application, 1 applied for emeritus status, 4 were denied due to a lack of maintenance points/applicable activity. For the RBPs there were 30 candidates up for renewal. Of these 30 candidates 14 were approved (including 3 who had been denied the previous year and have not met recredentialing requirements), 15 did not respond to/chose not to submit their application, 0 were denied due to a lack of maintenance points/applicable activity, and 1 is still pending completion of an audit.

Credentialing Evaluation Board

Co-Chairs: Betty Kupskay and Donald Wang

This quarter the CEB has updated our P&P and sent it to the ABSA Office for submission to Council. As well, we had 18 outstanding CEB applications (including 4 reconsiderations) from the first quarter: 8 approved, 9 disapproved, 1 pending. For the second quarter, we had 13 new applications and 1 reconsideration: 3 approved, 5 disapproved, 6 pending.

Website Committee

Chair: Matthew Anderson

We're looking for a few volunteers who are proficient with Facebook and/or Twitter to join the Website Committee and assist the ABSA Office with our social media efforts. We have accounts with both Facebook and Twitter, but having some members who use these media on a regular basis would help push our outreach efforts tremendously. If you're interested, please contact the ABSA Office at [email protected].

Awards Committee

Chair: Judy LaDuc

The Richard C. Knudsen Publication Award team has been formulated and consists of two members of the Publications Team and two members of the Awards Tea. These individuals are scoring the articles from last three issues of Applied Biosafety and will also score the next issue when it comes out shortly. These scores will be tallied and a winning article selected for presentation at the ABSA Conference in San Diego.

The Awards Committee extended its deadline to June 15th. The Committee received 4 nominations in total. Two for the Arnold G. Wedum Distinguished Achievement Award, one for the Everett Hanel, Jr. Presidential Award and one which did not meet nominating criteria. These nominations are currently being evaluated to determine who to move forward to Council for approval.

The Awards website has been enhanced with 2013's winner's letters of nomination, photos of winners, and a coming attraction will be letters from the winners describing what impact the receipt of the award has made on their careers.

Bylaws Committee

Chair: Karen Byers

The Bylaws Committee has been reviewing the Policies and Procedures from the Ethics Board and Credentialing Evaluation Board.

Finance Committee

Chair: Carol McGhan

The Finance Committee developed an internal document to better define what the expectations are regarding their role as a liaison to the ABSA Teams. Members are working with the ABSA Teams in developing and submitting their 2015 budget requests. The Committee continues to look for additional ways to increase revenues and reduce costs.

Membership Committee

Co-Chairs: Eric Jeppesen and Julie Jackson

The Membership Committee has been working on the action plan for the ABSA Strategic Plan as it relates to membership. They have also reviewed and forwarded favorable action for a few Emeritus membership applications.

Nominating Committee

Chair: Barbara Fox Nellis

The 2014 ABSA Elections are underway for current ABSA members. The ballot was sent out on Friday, August 1, 2014 via survey monkey. Please let Kari DeServi at the ABSA Office know if you did not receive one ([email protected]). The ballot will remain open until 11:59pm August 31, 2014. If you are not an ABSA member and would like to partake in this important association process, please visit http://www.absa.org/memmenu.html) to become a member of ABSA.

Philanthropic Committee

Chair: David Phillips

The Philanthropic Committee is partnering with the Distance Learning Committee to fulfill our mission to foster the practice of biosafety in underserved regions by helping to develop a free on-demand module on Basic Biosafety Principles and Applications. This offering will provide basic guidance to laboratorians in underserved regions on how they may work more safely with biological hazards. In the second quarter, focused on securing SMEs and content. The module is expected to be completed in the near future.

Marketing & Public Relations Committee

Co-Chairs: Lolly Gardiner and Antony Schwartz

The Marketing & PR Committee is continuing to work on the media plan for ABSA. If there are any ABSA members who are interested in contributing to the media plan, the committee welcomes their participation. Please contact either one of the co-chairs for the Marketing & PR Committee.

Letter of Appreciation and Support for Your Employer!

The ABSA Council has drafted a letter expressing gratitude to ABSA members' employers and emphasizes the value of your participation in ABSA activities including the ABSA conference. If you would like to view this letter or would like us to send it to your employer, please e-mail the ABSA Office at [email protected]. We also appreciate any feedback about the letter!

ABSA Membership Site

Through the ABSA Store not only can you access the ABSA Members' Directory; you can update your contact information under the "My Information" link; view events you have registered for under "My Events"; access your educational credits under the "My Professional Development" link (being updated); and print a copy of past invoices under "My Transactions." You can also purchase ABSA publications, NEW ABSA shirts, and other ABSA products. ABSA is working hard to make managing your membership more intuitive and user-friendly.

Calendar Members Only