ABSA International Update

ABSA International Council

President: Melissa Morland

Hello ABSA Colleagues!

Another busy quarter is behind us. During this quarter, the ABSA International Council met for our mid-term meeting. The 5-year update to our Strategic Plan was conducted. In addition, the 2016 Mega Issue was determined to be: "With the changing needs of ABSA International members, how will ABSA International remain the Global Leader in Biorisk Management?" A task force is in the process of development. This task force will consider our members current and future needs and assess ABSA International's current and future ability to meet those needs. So, be ready to provide feedback about what ABSA International can do for you!

ABSA International continues to provide feedback to federal agencies on plans for enhancing biosafety and biosecurity in infectious disease laboratories. During this quarter, ABSA International presented a summary of our offerings on biosafety, biosecurity, and bioethics to the Federal Experts Security Advisory Panel Culture of Responsibility Working Group. Most recently, ABSA International presented to the Fast Track Action Committee (FTAC) regarding the scope of biosafety regulation and a risk based approach to biosafety and biosecurity. To meet a FTAC recommendation, ABSA International will establish and provide members of the regulated community a mechanism for sharing best practices. More information will be forthcoming!

The Scientific Program and Preconference Courses are all set for the ABSA International Conference in Grapevine, Texas from September 30 to October 5, 2016. Registration is now open at www.absaconference.org. We hope that you are planning to attend! Also, don't forget to mark your calendars for the USDA ARS 5th International Biosafety and Biocontainment Symposium on February 6-9, 2017. The Steering Committee met and program planning has begun. More information can be found at http://arssymposium.absa.org/.

Thanks again for all your continued hard work and support!

Distance Learning Committee

Co-Chairs: Maryjo Lanzillotta and Kathleen Kennedy

The DLC continues to develop, review, and offer new and ongoing webinars for ABSA members professional growth. Five webinars have already been offered this year and 9 additional webinars are scheduled and available for registration at http://www.absa.org/eduonline.html.

New webinars offered this year include four distinct modules on the topic of Biosecurity. Each webinar builds-off the previous yet they are able to stand alone as well allowing members to select modules most relevant to their needs. Additionally, the DLC is excited to offer four new webinars that were developed from preconference courses including: Concepts of Virology (offered in May); Virus-based Gene Transfer Vectors (offering in November); and Molecular Biology 101 (offering in November); as well as the already offered course on Fundamentals of Microbiology and Infectious Disease.

The DLC will re-offer the Culture of Safety webinar, a series by Sean Kaufman on understanding the different personalities in the workplace and the Occupational Medicine webinar by Drs. Tom Winter and Warner Hudson. Effective Biosafety Training, has been undergoing review, and will be offered later this year.

The DLC also continues to work on reviewing the Basic Disinfection course to convert to an on-demand class with the goal to roll-out in 2017. DLC is working with Natasha Griffin to convert her Biosafety Team webinar presentation into an on demand module. Finally, the DLC is actively reviewing new course ideas submitted by ABSA members including topics such as Dual Use Research of Concern, Bioethics, Import Permits, and more.

To view the current list of professional development opportunities, please visit the ABSA Education webpage at http://www.absa.org/eduonline.html and revisit the site as new courses are added routinely. Please invite your colleagues, nonmembers or other professionals are invited to attend.

Principles & Practices of Biosafety

Co-Chairs: Paul Jennette and Jeff Owens

The most recent course was held in San Diego, California on February 21-26, 2016. In addition to the Co-Chairs, Pat Condreay, Dee Zimmerman, Paul Meechan, and Hallie Hoskins instructed the class. The July 10-15, 2016 course at the Embassy Suites-Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon, is full. The next course open course is March 5-10, 2017 at the Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk in Downtown San Antonio, Texas. To register for this course, please visit http://www.absa.org/eduppb.html.

Preconference Course Committee

Co-Chairs: Corrie Ntiforo and Carrie Smith

The Preconference Course schedule for the Annual Conference has been completed and is available at www.absaconference.org! We are currently updating the facilitator guide in preparation to send out to the member of PCC and we will begin to take PCC members' requests for facilitating courses at the Annual Conference. More information about the Preconference Courses and the Conference can be found at www.absaconference.org.

ABSA International
Select Agent Users Forum

ABSA International will provide a forum for US Select Agent users to learn and share information. The forum will also provide a summary of anonymous feedback about the US Select Agent Program to APHIS and CDC in an effort to try and improve the program. The Select Agent Users Forum will start with a kickoff webinar in July. An online discussion forum for Select Agent user's will be available at the beginning of July. There will be an 8 hour workshop on Select Agent issues on October 6, 2016 at the ABSA International Conference in Grapevine, Texas . In early 2017 there will be a second webinar that will also discuss Select Agent issues.

The forum is only for individuals who work at institutions with US Select Agents. If you are interested in the forum, have any questions or suggestions, please email [email protected].

ABSA "Member-Get-A-Member" Referral Program

We are asking our current members to help recruit new ABSA members. For each new member that current members recruit, they will receive a $50.00 ABSA credit. The credit may be used towards ABSA products such as conference registration, merchandise, membership, publications, and courses. Newly recruited members must have not been members for the last 2 years. To be eligible, referring members must be good standing ABSA members for 2016.

The process is easy! Ask your coworkers and friends to join ABSA and e-mail Lena Razin [email protected] with your name as the referring member. The $50 credit will be applied directly to your account as the referring member.


Coeditors-in-Chief: Karen Byers and Barbara Johnson

Applied Biosafety has been transitioning publication to SAGE. The first issue produced by SAGE was Volume 21, Number 1, 2016. The ABSA International office and Coeditors-in-Chief are working closely with senior SAGE staff to ensure a continued smooth transition process. Volume 21, Number 2, 2016 is currently being produced.

Scientific Program Committee

Co-Chairs: Darlene Ward and Betsy Matos

The Scientific Program Committee has been busy finalizing all keynote speakers for the conference program with approval from Council. The SPC members have also reviewed all the abstracts for platforms and posters and developed a draft program for the ones approved for the conference. Notifications have been sent out to all abstract submitters. Lastly, the SPC chair had an Executive meeting with Council to discuss NSABB and GOF deliberations and having someone from the NSABB Board provide updates during the conference. More information on the conference could be found at http://www.absaconference.org.

Local Arrangements Committee

Chair: Patrick Conley

The LAC has secured the banquet location at the Glass Cactus on Gaylord Property and is now focusing on menu and entertainment for the evening, as well as on gifts and identifying gift sponsors. For more information on the conference and Grapevine Texas, please visit http://www.absaconference.org/.

Exhibitors Advisory Committee

Chair: Brandon Rosendahl

Based on last years survey results, the Exhibitors Committee has focused on finding new ideas to improve the exhibit procedures that would be beneficial to both exhibitors and attendees and encourage additional exhibitors to participate to future ABSA conferences. The EC chair attended various global tradeshows and conferences over the past few weeks/months and was able to speak with a variety of product and service exhibitors. Based on these discussions the committee analyzed what works and what does not work and has prepared a series of recommendations to present to ABSA and the other Conference Service committees for potential implementation at the upcoming conference. For more information on ABSA Conference exhibits and sponsorship go to http://absaconference.org/sponsorexhibitor-info/.

Publications Committee

Co-Chairs: Bruce Whitney and David Gillum

The Publications Committee continues to work on the online database for published accounts of laboratory-acquired infections as a resource for the profession; the idea of and creating a proposal for translating journal articles/publications; as well as a proposal to survey members regarding the Anthology of Biosafety series.

Global Health Security Agenda Consortium (GHSAC)-Professional Associations Working Group

Chair: Donald Callihan

Organization mapping for the working group members was submitted to Jim Welch via the GHSAC Steering Committee conference call that was held with Ambassador Jenkins, Jim Welch, and other Working Group leaders on May 6, 2016. Among items discussed was the use of Trellis, a document management system operated by AAAS, which will be used for all future communications. An intern has been recruited to manage the GHSAC website. The next face-to-face meeting will be held July 7, 2016 in the Burns Center at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. Primary agenda will be presentations by U.S. Government agencies working with GHSA countries on how GHSAC members can assist their country and global efforts. The Foundations Working Group is being engaged to find how GHSAC initiatives might be funded.

Training Tools/Resources Committee

Co-Chairs: Eleanor Low and David Harbourt

The Training Tools and Resources Committee has continued to bring in new members with the ability to provide and solicit new content to the ABSA website. Over the past year, the TT/R has increased its membership by ten percent and subsequent ability to provide quality content to the ABSA membership. The website has gone through a refreshing that will continue on a periodic basis as more content is added. While the TT/R Committee has received a number of quality submissions, they continue to ask their membership and the ABSA membership at large for additional content to meet the needs of its membership. Areas of focus for the committee in the future include Bloodborne Pathogens, Training Resources, Decontamination/Disinfection and Sterilization and IBC resources. To view submissions or to submit a new training tool or resource visit http://www.absa.org/trainingtools.html.

Learning Verification Committee

Co-Chairs: Niki Drazenovich and Matthew Fischer

In the past year, the Learning Verification Committee reviewed eight Applied Biosafety journals and completed five quizzes at one (1) CM point each for publication on the ABSA International website. Two quizzes have been published, one is ready to be published, and two are in the process of quiz development in the ABSA International office. The committee is currently caught-up on the Applied Biosafety journals and is now identifying other resources to review and generate quizzes from. Additional information and registration can be found at http://www.absa.org/eduonline.html.

Alliances Committee

Co-Chairs: Donald Callihan and Brandon Hatcher

The Co-Chairs developed a committee work plan. A draft P&P document is being reviewed. By the end of May, each currently listed liaison will be contacted by phone to determine their interest going forward and for their recommendations to recruit a co-liaison. A copy of the draft P&P will be shared.

Legislative Committee

Co-Chairs: Debra Sharpe and Meghan Seltzer

The Legislative Committee has engaged with AIHA to monitor legislation in all 50 states and the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate. 237 summaries have been returned to ABSA for review, copies of 57 (~24%) bills were requested for further review by the Legislative Committee, and four bills were found to have an impact on biosafety and biosecurity practices. No federal legislation was deemed to be relevant to biosafety or biosecurity. The four bills were distributed to local affiliates as specified in the standard operating procedure drafted by the Regulatory and Technical Affairs Team.

The LC provided comments to ABSA Council from our committee members on the latest revision of the BMBL 6th edition.

The LC also provided comments on the Fast Track Action Committee report to support the request from Dr. Gerald Epstein regarding whether to bring all bioscience institutions, or at least all those operating at or above Biosafety Level 3 or "high-containment" under Federal biosafety regulation, and the feasibility of adopting a "risk-based" approach to managing the safety and security oversight of biological agents and toxins.

Technical and Regulatory Review Committee

Co-Chairs: Eric Steelman and Yolanda Arriaga

The Technical & Regulatory Review Committee has been steadily busy this year. Since the committee update from the first half of the year, they have reviewed and commented on several documents and submitted to Council for submission to various agencies.

In February, the committee reviewed a letter regarding FSAPs Policy Statement of Inactivated Bacillus anthracis. A letter was sent to both federal Select Agent Directors with concerns about two different exclusion criteria and a validation concern. A thank you letter was sent back to ABSA in mid-March.

The TRR asked members to comment on a draft policy describing the process for an entity to formally dispute FSAP inspection report findings. An email blast was sent to ABSA membership.

In March, the TRR reviewed and provided a letter to Council regarding the Biennial Review of Select Agents. A letter was sent to APHIS as well as DHHS/CDC corresponding to their own specific requirements. Many comments were towards clarification of new proposed rules, as well as general and technical concerns regarding inactivation, biocontainment, and training.

The TRR asked members to comment on FESAP Guidance on Nonviable Select Agents and Nonfunctional Select Toxins. An email blast was sent to all ABSA members.

In April, the committee wrote a letter to the Center for Veterinary Medicine over the potential release of recombinant mosquitoes. While one concern was addressed, the committee overall accepted the findings of no significant impact of the study. The committee was fortunate to have been able to call upon vector-borne experts in the field to assist in gathering information and providing input for the letter.

A project we just concluded in May was assisting ABSA Leadership in updating a presentation for Federal Experts Security Advisory Panel. Comments were provided to Leadership to use in their meeting.

A project that will begin in a few weeks is to comment on the Regulation of Human Cells, Tissues, and Cellular and Tissue-Based Products from the FDA.

The TRR did not provide comments on the FDA powdered latex glove ban because we felt it was a clinical/occupational health issue relating to allergic reaction reduction.

Regarding the BMBL edition revision efforts, the TRR did not submit comments formally but did collect overarching comments to prepare points to consider for the ABSA representation at the BMBL Workshop. Individual committee members were encouraged to submit comments to the BMBL revision website to take part in this process. Since comments can be made anonymously, individuals who submit comments will have the comfort of anonymity while being able to suggest a change they feel is needed based on their own experiences.

Public Relations Committee

Chair: Rebecca Moritz

We are continuing with the development of the Public Relations course for Council. The course will be taught by Kelly Tyrrell from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jim Newman from KGB Texas Communications. The learning objectives are to: understand the basic fundamental of media and public relations; learn how to develop message and talking points using institutional resources; develop the skills to assess a situation and identify potential points of exposure; and learn how to conduct responsible, strategic research and biosafety communications.

We have developed talking points for various subjects and potential questions that are current being reviewed by Council. In the future, we hope to identify potential spokespersons who are subject matter experts and are willing to speak to the media on behalf of ABSA.

Accreditation Board

Chair: Chris Thompson

The Accreditation Board recently met and re-elected Co-Chairs for all their committees. We continue to be hopeful that with the recent fee structure reduction, we will be garnering further attention for the accreditation of facilities nationwide. We are also exploring opening the accreditation process to those international partners that are seeking accreditation and will report back as to what that may entail. For further information regarding the accreditation program, please visit http://www.absa.org/aiahclap.html.

ABSA Owned Course Working Group

Co-Chairs: Wing Wong and Chad Austin

The Basic Risk Assessment preconference course will be taught at the upcoming annual ABSA conference. It is currently being updated and revised by the committee members in light of observations and the course feedback from the class taught in Providence.

The Advanced BSL-3 Facility Operations course will be taught at the upcoming annual ABSA conference.

Dan Eisenman is the new co-chair of the Review Course Committee. We want to thank Rita D'Angelo for her significant contributions to the Review Course over the years. Annual review of the Advanced Biosafety Training Series will begin in June. The registration for the Advanced Biosafety Training Modules (Certification Review Course Modules) can be found at http://www.absa.org/educbsp.html.

Biosafety Buyer's Guide

ABSA launched the Biosafety Buyer's Guide in 2014 at http://biosafetybuyersguide.org. As we enter the third year, the Guide has had much success with many visits to the ads and listings. The Guide lists companies and consultants that provide biosafety-related products and services. For more information, contact Karen Savage at [email protected].

Credentialing Maintenance Board

Co-Chairs: Susan Cook and Thomas Leonard

The Credentialing Maintenance Board has received more than 100 applications for credentialing maintenance points in 2016 and reviewed over 50 renewal applications from RBPs and CBSPs assigned to the 2011-2015 credentialing maintenance cycle. The CMB strongly encourages the credentialed community to routinely monitor the status of earned credentialing maintenance points and explore the growing number of online continuing education opportunities available through the ABSA Education webpage.

Credentialing Evaluation Board

Co-Chairs: Donald Wang and Betty Kupskay

In 2015, CEB reviewed 80 (RBP/CBSP) applications. Of these, 60 were for RBP with 37 approved and 23 denied. Twenty applications were for CBSP, with 17 approved and 3 denied. For 2016, 19 applications were for RBP, 12 approved, 6 denied, and 1 pending. One application for CBSP was reviewed and approved. In addition, the CEB reviewed the biosafety management experience for NBBPT fellows. CEB will be crediting 24 months of biosafety management experience for those that have completed the NBBPT program.

Anthology XIV: Sustainability

Anthology XIV helps us to better understand how we can create facilities that are more efficient with strategies such as reducing the energy requirements for effective autoclaves, biological safety cabinets, and animal facilities. With sustainability comes commitment for investing in the future, and this Anthology XIV will continue to provide current and forward-thinking information to aid the biosafety community achieve its goals. The Anthology XIV book is available in print and at: http://www.absa.org/pubanth.html

Awards Committee

Co-Chairs: Janet Peterson and David Gillum

TThe Awards Committee has been working to solicit nominations from the ABSA membership for the Honor and Recognition Awards. Thanks to all of you who have already submitted nominations!

E-Communications Committee

Co-Chairs: Matt Anderson and Sarah Ziegler

The E-Communications Committee continues to work towards the redesign of the ABSA website. During the most recent conference call, it was determined that we would focus the redesign solely on the content available on the main ABSA site and the redesign will not affect the "store" or the my.absa.org site at this time. We want to ensure we allow flexibility in our redesign to incorporate a new learning management systems as well as my.absa.org. We have received feedback from team leads, committee chairs, and Council and are developing the navigation menus for the new site. The next step will be gathering media content to represent different areas of the site to make the site less text-heavy and more inviting.

The ABSA blog has had a slow start in receiving submissions for posts and the committee would like to try to market the blog. The committee is developing a proposal to promote the blog by offering an incentive to members for contributing and will submit the proposal to the team lead soon. The committee also plans to use social media to request submissions to the blog, those posts will be published soon.

Finally, we would like to establish a #hashtag for the 2016 conference so it can be used in marketing and promotional materials as well as by vendors that will be attending the conference. Along that same line, we would like to work with vendors to offer some sort of social media contest during the conference that would help vendors get visitors to their booth and also promote the conference presentations. This is in early planning stages.

Membership Committee

Co-Chairs: JeT'Aime Newton and Malissa Mayer-Diaz

The Membership Committee reviewed information from the survey and has sent the names and contact information of those interested in the Mentorship Program to the chairs of the Mentoring Committee. The Membership Committee will begin to contact other new members who would like more information about ABSA and the committees in need of additional members.

Finance Committee

Chair: James W. Klenner

The Finance Committee has been meeting on a regular monthly schedule. Members were asked to bring to the committee any ideas for expanding revenues or saving expenditures. While deemed not necessarily feasible, some thoughts included translating Applied Biosafety into other languages and offering an annual pass for the ABSA International Webinar series. The appointed liaisons to committees were finalized and members are aware of their respective assignment.

Philanthropic Committee

Co-Chairs: David Phillips and David Mulligan

The content of four of the five modules of the Basic Biosafety course have been completed. We are working on the last module on Biosafety Resources. Once the module is finalized, we will schedule a call with the team working on the project to: do a final review of the slides; decide how to do the narration; and add the post-module survey for the viewers to complete. Great progress has been made and we are in the final stages of the module.

Nominating Committee

Chair: Marian Downing

The committee has met and is finalizing the ballot for the 2016 election to include: President-Elect, one Councilor, Secretary, and four Nominating Committee members. The ballot will be sent on August 1, 2016.

Mentoring Committee

Co-Chairs: Althea Capul and Sarah Ziegler

The Mentoring Committee has received many notes of interest from new members through the Membership Committee. We are preparing to send an ABSA-wide request for potential mentees and mentors to establish Mentoring Program profiles in my.absa.org.

Historical Task Force

Co-Leads: Bob Hawley and John Balog

The Historical Task Force continues to receive and review materials offered for accession into the ABSA biosafety archive.

  1. The Biology of Animal Viruses, 1974, F. Fenner, B.R. McAuslan, and others, Academic Press, New York, 2nd edition.
  2. Mycotoxins, 1974, I.F.H. Purchase, ed., Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., New York.
  3. Zoonoses and Communicable Diseases Common to Man and Animals, 1980, P.N. Acha and B. Szyfres, Pan American Health Organization (WHO), Washington, DC.

ABSA International Membership Site

Through the ABSA Store not only can you access the 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; 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.

Letter of Appreciation and Support for Your Employer!

The 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 [email protected]. We also appreciate any feedback about the letter!

Calendar Members Only