ABSA International Update

President's Report

Maureen O'Leary, PhD, MBA, CBSP
Dear ABSA Colleagues,

We had a great conference this year in Grapevine, Texas with 633 attendees with 911 spots filled in the preconference courses. Thank you for your participation and making the annual meeting such a dynamic learning experience and a place where a lot of new ideas and sharing of best practices came to light. Thank you to the Scientific Program Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, Preconference Course Committee, and Exhibitors Advisory Committee for their contributions to the ABSA International Conference.

During the conference we had the ABSA International Council meeting and the opportunity to work on strategic planning with team and committee leadership. I presented a few overarching focus areas for the coming year:

  1. We will continue to work with federal agencies on influencing biosafety and biosecurity policy. There is important knowledge from practitioners that needs to be conveyed to the different agencies. We are in a great position to educate and influence the direction of regulations that we will need to comply with and implement at our own institutions.
  2. We will also work on developing a process to have resources available in a timely fashion for new and emerging technologies and infectious agents. Availability of these resources will ensure that all of our members will have access to the best and latest information/recommendations related to best practices.
  3. Enhancing our international engagement will ensure that we are living up to our new name as ABSA International and that we are a global source for biosafety and biosecurity resources. By interacting with our affiliates, partners, and members throughout the world, we will work towards contributing to international biosafety and biosecurity norms, will be beneficial to all of us while creating a broad set of expertise and resources.
  4. We are also reigniting the development our ABSA Ambassador Program and having an international focused session on the Sunday before the next ABSA conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Work is in progress to establish working groups and task forces. If you are interested in one of these areas or have ideas you would like to share please let me know.

Lastly, the USDA ARS 4th International Biosafety and Biosecurity Symposium will be held February 6-9, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland and the Principles & Practices of Biosafety will be held March 5-10, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

I am looking forward to a very busy and productive year!

USDA ARS 4th International Symposium

USDA ARS 4th International Symposium: Global Biorisk Challenges - Agriculture and Beyond
February 6-9, 2017
Baltimore, Maryland

Distance Learning Committee

Co-Chairs: Maryjo Lanzillotta and Kathleen Kennedy

The Distance Learning Committee (DLC) continues to develop, review, and offer new and ongoing webinars for ABSA International members professional growth.

New webinars offered this year include 4 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. Three of the four modules have been completed. The DLC is excited to offer two new webinars this fall: Virus-based Gene Transfer Vectors and Molecular Biology 101. Registration for these webinars is now open at http://www.absa.org/eduonline.html.

The DLC continues to review the Basic Disinfection course to convert it into an on-demand module with a goal to launch in mid-2017. The committee's plans for 2017 also include bringing back Current Trends in Sterilization and the Q&A Infectious Substances Shipping webinars, as well as the addition of a new webinar on Large-scale Biosafety, based on the preconference course. The DLC is actively reviewing other new course ideas submitted by ABSA International members, including the topics of Dual Use Research of Concern, Bioethics, and Import Permits.

The list of professional development opportunities is available on the Online Education webpage http://www.absa.org/edumenu.html; new courses are added routinely. Please invite your colleagues, nonmembers, or other professionals to attend.

Principles & Practices of Biosafety (PPB)

Co-Chairs: Paul Jennette and Jeff Owens

The next PPB offering is March 5-10, 2017 at the Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk in Downtown San Antonio, Texas. There will also be a course in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 9-15, 2017. To register for this course, please visit http://www.absa.org/eduppb.html.

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

We are asking our current members to help recruit new ABSA International 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 in good standing ABSA International members for 2016.

The process is easy! Ask your coworkers and friends to join ABSA International 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.

Journal Board

Applied Biosafety
Coeditors-in-Chief: Karen Byers and Barbara Johnson

SAGE Publishing is on-track with the publication schedule. SAGE is assisting with Indexing starting now through 2017 (we hope to get feedback in 6 months). If you would like to propose an article to the journal, please visit

Scientific Program Committee

Co-Chairs: Darlene Ward and Betsy Matos

This was a crucial time for the Scientific Program Committee (SPC) and we hope you were able to join us at the 59th Annual Biological Safety Conference. The hard work by the SPC created a great program! New this year-the posters were categorized by scientific and informational criteria to make viewing and judging more streamlined. Many of the presentations are posted on the ABSA website at
http://absaconference.org/agenda/sci-agenda/ and are available to conference attendees. If you were unable to attend or if there was a presentation you would like to see again, several of the presentations are available for purchase through DCP Providers at http://www.dcprovidersonline.com/absa/?event_id=ABSA107

Local Arrangements Committee

Chair: Patrick Conley

The 2016 Conference Local Arrangement Committee arranged the banquet at the Glass Cactus Night Club. Attendees enjoyed Texas BBQ, line dancing, and casino games in addition to the great sunset views over Lake Grapevine.

Exhibitors Advisory Committee

Chair: Brandon Rosendahl

ABSA International would like to thank all of the sponsors and exhibiting companies participating at the the annual conference in Grapevine! We appreciate your support! Go to the following link for a list of sponsors and exhibitors http://absaconference.org/sponsorexhibitor-info/.

Publications Committee

Co-Chairs: Bruce Whitney and David Gillum

The Publication Committee continues working to implement the database of published reports of laboratory-acquired infections. We also continue working to determine the need and feasibility of translating foreign language biosafety-related publications into English and from English into select foreign languages.

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

Chair: Donald Callihan

The Global Health Security Agenda Consortium met on July 6, 2016 at the U.S. Department of State Marshall Center. Don Callihan, Working Group Liaison representing ABSA International attended, along with Ed Stygar, ABSA International Executive Director. ABSA International is the coordinating organization for the Professional Membership Associations Working Group (PAWG).

The mandate of the Professional Associations Working Group is to strengthen global health security by engaging and networking with our professional organization counterparts working in GHSA partner countries and support their efforts as they prepare to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats in their country and region. Participating professional associations will seek to engage our members in opportunities to share their knowledge, skills, and abilities with professional peers across the international community.

Common Values/Goals

Jim Welch, Executive Director of the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation and Chair of the GHSAC Steering Committee, announced that the GHSAC website is nearing launch.

For more information on GHSA and GHSA Action Packages, visit the GHSA website at https://ghsagenda.org/.

Training Tools Committee

Co-Chairs: Dave Harbourt and Eric Cook

The Training Tools and Resources Committee would like to thank Eleanor Low for her service to the committee as Chair for the past 3-years. The committee welcomes Eric Cook as the new Co-Chair and continues to be committed to providing the best training resources for our membership.

Legislative Committee

Co-Chairs: Debra Sharpe and Meghan Seltzer

The Legislative Committee's (LC) primary focus has been to streamline and oversee ABSA International's new legislative monitoring program, provided through the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Government Affairs Office. Since the last update, the committee has reviewed 130 state legislative bills. To date, 4 state bills have been identified as having a potential impact on biosafety programs and were referred to local affiliates for further review and action.

The LC has also been working to identify ways to engage our local legislative representatives and invite them into our organizations to introduce them to what we do. The LC is also working to identify new mechanisms to engage and educate federal policymakers. The goal of both initiatives is to forge relationships, awareness, and improve the chances that they will reach out to ABSA International members when relevant policy issues or incidents arise.

The committee welcomes 2 new members (Torsten Hopp from University of Louisville and Brian J. O'Shea from Battelle).

Technical & Regulatory Review Committee

Co-Chairs: Eric Steelman and Yolanda Arriaga

The Technical and Regulatory Review Committee (TRR) frequently reviews technical and regulatory documents and determines which documents need a deeper review and comment by the committee. In some cases, a technical review is determined to not be warranted based on further analysis or if other ABSA groups are involved.

The TRR did not submit specific comments during the last round of requests for input, but encouraged ABSA members to submit comments for issues they felt important.

Recently, the EPA requested comments in their efforts to ensure proper recordkeeping and training of personnel in institutions working with agents of dual-use concern. The TRR contacted the EPA and were given permission to view the checklist and other criteria that will be used to for the audit. The information that was provided can be found on the Federal Register website, as well as what is provided on the Federal Docket website. We did not submit comments as the forms and questions were found on common assessment forms.

The TRR has reviewed a proposal from the NIH regarding human stem cell research. The modification will impact sections IV and V of the NIH Guidelines. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/08/05/2016-18601/request-for-public-comment-on-the-proposed-changes-to-the-nih-guidelines-for-human-stem-cell.

Public Relations Committee

Chair: Rebecca Moritz and Joshua Turse

The Public Relations Committee worked with SME's Kelly Tyrell, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Jim Newman, KGB Texas Communications, to develop the course titled Media and Public Relations for Biosafety Professionals. This course was offered during the ABSA Conference.

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. For further information regarding the accreditation program, please visit http://www.absa.org/aiahclap.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 (CMB) reminds the credentialed community that a convenient series of inexpensive, online opportunities for credentialing maintenance points are available through ABSA's online educational resources at https://www.absa.org/eduonline.html. Thanks to efforts of the Learning Verification Committee, credentialing maintenance points may be earned through satisfactory completion of quizzes designed to verify comprehension of Applied Biosafety journal articles and other educational materials. Over 7.0 Credentialing Maintenance points have been preapproved by the CMB.

Credentialing Evaluation Board

Co-Chairs: Donald Wang and Betty Kupskay

From January to August 2016, the Credentialing Evaluation Board convened monthly by conference calls to review and discuss submitted and pending applications. During this period, the Board reviewed a total of 37 applications; 35 for Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) and 2 for Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP). Of the RBP applications, 23 received approvals, 7 were disapproved, and 5 applications pending; (either waiting for additional information or clarification prior to our final decision). Both of the CBSP applications received were reviewed and approved. Some of the common reasons for disapprovals were: not meeting the period required in managing a comprehensive biosafety program management, the academic degrees not relevant to biological safety, or information provided not relevant to biosafety.

The newly credentialed professionals acknowledged at the annual conference were:

Registered Biosafety Professionals (RBP)
Lorena Altamirano
Gulnara Aumolddayeva
James Baugh
Bryan Bellaire
Jennifer Bosselman
Nick Chaplinski
Michael Chute
Jessica Cromheeke
Michelle Edenfield
Alexandria Elliott
Karon Floyd
Crystal Fortune
Tea Glonti
Changhwa Hwang
Jolanta Jacobs
Christine Johnson
Martin Jones
Partha Krishnan
Cristine Campos Lawson
Eileen Lloyd
Kirk Lubick
Nyree Maes
Rebecca McGirr
Michele Miele
Michael Miles
Darren Moss
Heidi Page
Amy Razukiewicz
Jennifer Robertson
Rebecca Sciulli
Christopher Sieradzki
Adrienne Zweifel

Certified Biological Safety Professionals (CBSP)
Rebecca Anderson
Jessica Bourquin
Megan Brose
Chadi Filfili
Shruti Gentilli
Sonia Godoy-Tundidor
David Harbourt
J. Paul Jennette
Lisa Kercher
Sarah Lawson
Betsy Matos
Samar Tadros

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

The Awards Committee had a very busy summer. We worked with the Publications Committee to review all of the Applied Biosafety Journal articles published in the past year to choose the Knudsen Award recipient. Thanks to all of you who submitted nominations and journal articles!

The Committee also worked diligently to review Honor Award nominations. Below are the 2016 Honor Award recipients.

2016 Honor Award recipients:

Arnold Wedum Distinguished Achievement Award
Paul Meechan, PhD, RBP, CBSP
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA

Everett J Hanel Jr. Presidential Award
Brian Petuch, RBP, CBSP
Merck & Co., Inc.
West Point, PA

John H. Richardson Special Recognition Award
Robert J. Emery, DrPH, RBP, CBSP
University of Texas Health Science Center
Houston, TX

2016 HASH Award Recipients:
Shelly Jones, RBP, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
Rhonda O'Keefe, CBSP, The Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA
Susan Cook, PhD, CBSP, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Jeff Owens, MPH, CBSP, HDR, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Yolanda Stringer, MS, RBP, CBSP, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO
J. Paul Jennette, MS, PE, RBP, CBSP, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY
Rebecca Caruso, MPH, RBP, CBSP, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
David Gillum, RBP, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

E-Communications Committee

Co-Chairs: Matt Anderson and Sarah Ziegler

The E-Communications Committee has made progress toward the ABSA International website redesign, finalized a navigation menu and picked the Word Press theme. The committee is accumulating photos to use on the site and developing page layouts and brainstorming "call to action" elements. The ABSA International blog has had only one submission in the past few months. We have submitted a request to the Credentialing Maintenance Board to offer CM points for blog posts.  If you are interested in submitting to the ABSA International blog, please visit http://blog.absa.org/

Membership Committee

Co-Chairs: JeT'Aime Newton and Malissa Mayer-Diaz
This quarter the Membership Committee contacted all new members that were interested in getting more information/joining ABSA International committees. They are still receiving the responses and putting them into contact with the Chairs of the committees. We have 274 new members so far this year, which includes 43 new international members. The Membership Committee continues to review Emeritus applications as submitted.

Nominating Committee

Chair: Marian Downing
Many thanks to the 2016 Nominating Committee: Janet Peterson, Scott Patlovich, Hallie Hoskins, and Deb Howard. Also, thanks to all the final candidates and others who were contacted and made some difficult decisions.

Mentoring Committee

Co-Chairs: Althea Capul and Sarah Ziegler

The Mentoring Committee has submitted an ABSA-wide request for potential Mentees and Mentors to establish Mentoring Program profiles in my.absa.org. If you are interested in becoming a Mentor or are looking to join the program as a Mentee, information can be found on the Welcome page of my.absa.org. Follow the link to participate in the Mentoring Program. All ABSA International members are welcome!

Affiliate Relations

Co-Chairs: Despina Felis and Jennifer Gaudioso
The ABSA International Council approved the Affiliate Ribbons for the conference in October. Several affiliates participated.  Feedback from the Affiliates regarding the ribbons was positive. For more information on Affiliates go to https://www.absa.org/affiliates.html.

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 International publications, NEW ABSA International shirts, and other products.

Letter of Appreciation and Support for Your Employer!

The Council has drafted a letter expressing gratitude to ABSA International members' employers and emphasizes the value of your participation in ABSA activities including the 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!

Learning Verification Committee

Co-Chairs: Niki Drazenovich and Matthew Fischer

The Learning Verification Committee is in the process of reviewing additional materials to generate quizzes from. ABSA International members have 8 quizzes available online for CM points. These quizzes are available at low cost and can be located on the website at https://www.absa.org/eduonline.html.

Calendar Members Only