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ABSA Update 2017-04-04T20:22:29+00:00

ABSA Update – February, 2017


President's Report

Maureen O'Leary, PhD, CBSP
Dear ABSA International Colleagues,
In December, I was fortunate to join colleagues from around the world to attend the WHO Biosafety Advisory Group meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. At the meeting, the WHO Biosafety Advisory Group discussed, among other things, the progress on the update to the Laboratory Biosafety Manual. WHO has decided to depart from using the BSL-laboratory designations and start using core, core-plus, and containment terminology to describe laboratory safety requirements. The first draft of the Manual is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Our own discussions at ABSA International led to the formation of three task forces. These task forces are working on developing a process to have quick access and resources available for new and emerging technologies/diseases, enhancing our international engagement, and establishing the ABSA Ambassadors Program. I will keep you informed of the progress made in these task forces.
Our existing task forces continue to work on multiple projects. The Select Agent Task Force continues to work with the CDC and USDA on providing a Select Agent community forum and plans are being made to hold webinars this spring. The Marketing Task Force is working with NIH to assist with the National Biosafety Stewardship Month.
Lastly, the Principles & Practices of Biosafety will be held March 5-10, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.
Maureen O'Leary, PhD, CBSP


Distance Learning Committee

Chairs: Maryjo Lanzillotta, MS, RBP, CBSP and Kathleen Kennedy, MPH
The Distance Learning Committee continues to develop, review, and offer new and ongoing webinars for ABSA International members' professional growth. The DLC is planning for 2017 which includes bringing back the webinar on Current Trends in Sterilization and re-offering Q&A Infectious Substances Shipping as well as the addition of another preconference course turned webinar: Large-scale Biosafety and Media and Public Relations for the Biosafety Professional webinar. New webinars to be offered this year include:
  • Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) Roundtable Discussion with Dr. Kathryn Harris and will include a panelist discussion about designing an effective DURC Program
  • Bioethics for Biosafety Professionals with Dr. Brynn Welch
  • Large-scale Biosafety (based on the preconference course) with Brian Petuch
  • A course on CRISPR/Cas Systems and Risk Assessment is under development
Biosafety Team Webinar with Natasha Griffith is being converted to an on-demand module and is planned to be released in early 2017. The Basic Disinfection Course is near completion on being converted to an on-demand module-this will be released in 2017. The joint project with the Philanthropic Committee to develop a Basic Biosafety on-demand module is being finalized with narration and the date for release is coming soon. Below are webinars already on the 2017 calendar. The list of professional development opportunities is available on the Online Education webpage New courses are added routinely. Please invite your colleagues, nonmembers, or other professionals to attend.
  • Q&A Infectious Substance Shipping-SME Eric Cook on February 17, 2017 from 12:30-3:00 pm CST
  • NEW! Large-Scale Biosafety-SME Brian Petuch on February 21 and 23, 2017 from 12:30-3:00 pm CDT
  • Current Trends in Sterilization-SME Arthur Trapotsis and Paul Lorcheim on March 1 and 3, 2016
  • Behaving Safely in the Laboratory: Understanding Complexities of Building and Sustaining a Culture of Safety-SME Sean Kaufman on April 3, 5, and 7, 2017 from 12:30-2:30 pm CST
  • NEW! Bioethics-SME Dr. Brynn Welch on April 10, 11, and 12, 2017 from 12:00-1:00 pm CDT
  • Train the Trainer: Tools for More Engaging Compliance Training-SME David Casavant on May 24, 2017 from 12:30-1:30 pm CDT
  • Occupational Medicine: Your Valued Partner in Biosafety-SMEs Drs. Winter and Hudson on November 9, 2017 from 12:00-2:00 pm CDT


Principles & Practices of Biosafety (PPB)

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


Finance Committee

Chairs: James Klenner, MS, RBP, CBSP and Sarah Gillette McAbee, RBP
The Finance Committee meets monthly to discuss the previous monthly and year-to-date trends for revenue and expenses. The meeting is open to comments or questions from all committee members. During the last quarter of 2016, questions were raised regarding changing economic environments and if Certificates of Deposit were still the best investment for ABSA International. It was determined that these were safe and the best conservative investment for the organization. The Finance Committee welcomed the new President-Elect, Patrick Condreay as the new Council member and Maureen O'Leary was thanked for her participation. The Finance Committee Liaisons were chosen for the coming year and some members asked for different assignments to gain a broader perspective of the various teams and needs of the association's committees. In the next few months, upcoming tasks will be the annual review of the Finance Committee P&Ps and review of the Financial Audit of ABSA International.



Applied Biosafety 
Coeditors-in-Chief: Karen Byers and Barbara Johnson
We have been focusing on the production of Volume 22: Number 1, 2017; some excellent articles are in the production pipeline. A few changes have occurred to the SAGE website including new features such as "most read" and "most cited" that are updated regularly. We will also request an update on the SCOPUS indexing at our next conference call. At the 2016 ABSA leadership planning session, it was suggested that a slide be developed for the affiliates to encourage submissions to the Journal when members hear an interesting talk. This is on our to-do list for the next quarter.
If you would like to propose an article to the journal, please visit


Scientific Program Committee

Chairs: Betsy Matos, PhD, RBP, SM(NRCM), CBSP
Claudia Gentry-Weeks, PhD, CBSP 
Jessica McCormick-Ell, PhD, RBP, CBSP
The Scientific Program Committee has reviewed all the conference surveys from Grapevine and will incorporate suggestions for the 2017 Scientific Program. We have several choices for Keynote Speakers. This year, the SPC selected topic areas (e.g., biosafety culture, public health, gene editing, human gene transfer, etc.) to focus on for the Scientific Program Agenda and will solicit abstracts for those topic areas. These topic areas will be reflected in the abstract submission site. If you are interested in submitting a paper for the 60th Annual Biological Safety Conference please click here. The deadline for paper submissions is March 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm CDT. Our goal for the 60th ABSA International Conference will be to provide an opportunity for our biosafety professionals to learn and network with others on emerging and continuous issues affecting our scientific discipline.


Local Arrangements Committee

Chair: Jen Gaudioso, PhD
The Local Arrangements Committee has secured the venue for the Tuesday banquet and is now focusing on catering the event as well as entertainment. The LAC has also initiated a search for gifts to be distributed to speakers and attendees. Members of the LAC are reaching out to local vendors and/or sponsors, while others are assisting the SPC by proposing local, potential speakers. Information regarding the Balloon Fiesta is being prepared and will be available to the membership within a month or two. Please note that the beginning of the ABSA Conference will overlap with the Balloon Fiesta, so make your hotel reservations early and come early to see the Balloon Fiesta!


Exhibitors Committee

Chair: Brandon Rosendahl
The Exhibitors Committee added a new member with large experience in participating in trade shows. This will allow the committee to compare and discuss the pros and cons of various methods used in tradeshows with the aim at benefiting both vendors and attendees. At first, time management, (i.e., allocation and keeping to a schedule) appears to be a key element toward a better interaction and knowledge sharing between exhibitors and attendees. The EC will work with ABSA International and other committees to implement ways that will better allow like-minded passionate professionals to exchange the knowledge to make the world a safer place. Exhibitor information for the 2017 ABSA International Conference is available at


Publications Committee

Chairs: Bruce Whitney, PhD and Luis Alberto Ochoa Carrera

The Publications Committee continues working to implement the database of published reports of laboratory-acquired infections. We are also looking at the future of the ABSA anthologies. Finally, we are evaluating the possibility of creating an annotated bibliography of publications useful to biosafety professionals.


Select Agent Task Force

Leads: Colleen Driskill, RBP, CBSP and Krista Murray, RBP, CBSP
The Select Agent Task Force planned and hosted the SRA Approved Users Workshop on October 6, 2016. It was a very successful day-long program following the ABSA International Conference that included presentations and discussions related to aspects of working with Select Agents and Toxins. The workshop was for personnel approved as part of the Federal Select Agent Program. There were speakers from the CDC and USDA which provided regulatory perspective as well as individuals from various Select Agent institutions that presented on specific experiences and examples of best practices. The talks provided the basis for additional discussions and brainstorming for participants.
The Select Agent Task Force (SATF) is preparing to host a second webinar in the spring. Additional details and agenda will follow when a date is set. The SATF continues to host the Select Agent Forum, an online listserv for SRA approved personnel, in order to learn and share with others in the Federal Select Agent Program. Anyone interested in joining the forum must be SRA approved. They can join the forum by emailing the ABSA International Office at [email protected] with "SA Gram" in the subject line.


Preconference Course Committee

Chairs: Corrie Ntiforo, MSPH, RBP and Carrie Smith, PhD, RBP, CBSP
The PCC Chairs are currently working on sending out the 2017 New Year Welcome emails to the committee members. In addition, the Chairs are reviewing the OASIS submission site task due dates leading up to the conference so the PCC can set the schedule for this year in preparation for the conference. To submit a course proposal for the 60th Annual Biological Safety Preconference Courses please click here. The deadline for submissions is March 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm CDT.


Learning Verification Committee

Chairs: Niki Drazenovich, RBP, CBSP and Matthew Fischer, PhD, RBP
The Learning Verification Committee is in the process of reviewing and generating quizzes from the last two issues of the Applied Biosafety journals and the University of Bradford resource titled Guide to Biological Security Issues. The Credentialing Maintenance Board is currently discussing the amount of CM points the University of Bradford resource will be worth. ABSA International members have eight quizzes available online for CM points. These quizzes are low cost and can be located on the website at


Legislative Affairs Committee

Chairs: Meghan Seltzer, PhD and Brian O'Shea, PhD, CBSP
In October, the leadership of the committee changed with Meghan Seltzer taking over as Chair and Brian O'Shea becoming Co-Chair. The Legislative Committee finished its pilot of the Legislative Monitoring Service with AIHA. Approximately 150 pieces of legislation were reviewed, and three were forwarded on to affiliates for review. This service will not be renewed for 2017. Over the past year, Deb Sharpe developed and gave a course on the legislative and regulatory processes at the ABSA Annual Conference. The TRR team also presented a poster at the ABSA Annual Conference in October discussing the work of the TRR team as well as the legislative and regulatory processes. In 2017, the Legislative Affairs Committee will be developing more resources for members to engage with local, state, and federal legislators. We will also be exploring the feasibility of different options to raise the profile of ABSA with federal legislators.


Technical & Regulatory Review Committee

Chairs: Yolanda Arriaga Stringer, MS, RBP, CBSP and Ingrid Abbott-Permell, RBP, CBSP
This quarter, the Technical & Regulatory Review Committee (TRR) evaluated the Addition of Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis to the HHS List of Select Agents and Toxins and two White House documents-An Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology and the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products for potential review. The HHS document contained sufficient biosafety application and was sent to the TRR committee for review; however, comments were not submitted to Council since no objections to the final rule were raised.
The committee initiated activities for the year with a team luncheon at the ABSA Annual Conference. The TRR followed with a conference call in November evaluating the ABSA International Policies & Procedures pertinent to the committee, assessing the Federal Register review process and other review sources, and plans to optimize use of the profile tool to identify potential reviewers. The TRR strategic goal was outlined and progress has begun toward defining opportunities for ABSA review contributions on a global stage. Contributions from ABSA-at-Large are welcome.


Public Relations Committee

Chairs: Rebecca Moritz, CBSP and Joshua Turse, PhD
During the fall of 2016, the PR Committee worked with outside public relations experts to create a preconference public relations course that was well received. In addition, the PR Committee continues to develop materials for ABSA public relations outreach. In the coming year, the committee will continue to help promote biorisk management and ABSA by creating an informational video about biorisk management and ABSA. The video under development may be used at professional meetings where ABSA International has a booth, and it will be posted on the ABSA website.


Emerging Infectious Disease Consortium

Lead: Paul Tranchell
The consortium has formed and is working on its path forward. We have developed a list of organizations that we would like to partner with and have members assigned to those organizations. We are working with the ABSA International Executive Director, Ed Stygar, to identify contacts and methods of contact to allow for consistency as well as putting ABSA International in a positive light as we move forward.
We have developed and reviewed a draft PowerPoint presentation that can be used in our initial meetings with the other organizations. We will be meeting soon to finalize the PPT and outline our next steps for contacting and interacting with the other organizations.


Biosafety Buyer's Guide

ABSA launched the Biosafety Buyer's Guide in early 2014 at As we enter the fourth 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

Chairs: Susan Cook, CBSP and Thomas Leonard, PhD, CBSP
During the ABSA International Annual Conference in Grapevine, Texas, the Credentialing Evaluation Board (CEB) and Credentialing Maintenance Board (CMB) held a joint information and Q&A session to discuss the credentialing program. Several of the CEB and CMB members were present to field questions. The session was attended by many individuals interested in obtaining or renewing credentials.
The Credentialing Maintenance Board reminds the credentialed community that a convenient series of inexpensive, online opportunities for credentialing maintenance points are available through ABSA's online educational resources. Thanks to the 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. To date, over seven credentialing maintenance points have been pre-approved by the CMB.
The CMB has transitioned to Susan Cook as the Chair and Tom Leonard as the Co-Chair following the conference in October.
As part of the CMB's efforts to continually monitor the balance and effectiveness of the credentialing maintenance program, the Board intends to compose and distribute a survey to individuals who currently hold an ABSA International biosafety credential or who held a credential in the past. The purpose of the survey will be to seek input from the credentialed community regarding various considerations of the current credentialing maintenance program. Results will be used to inform the Board in its current and future planning.


Credentialing Evaluation Board

Chairs: Donald Wang, MPH, RBP, CBSP and Tom Boyle, RBP
From September to the end of 2016, the Credential Evaluation Board convened monthly via phone conference calls with the exception of live (in-person) meeting at the Annual Conference.
For the 2016 calendar year, the CEB received and reviewed 80 applications. During this reporting period we reviewed 29 applications-28 for RBP and 1 for CBSP. Of the RBP applications, 10 received approvals, 10 were disapproved, and 8 are pending on either additional information or clarifications prior to a final decision. Common reasons for disapprovals were: not meeting the period required in managing a comprehensive biosafety program; academic degrees not relevant to biological safety; or work experience provided was not relevant to biosafety.
The CEB, jointly with CMB, held an informational and Q&A session at the annual conference for those interested in obtaining and maintaining RBP and CBSP credentials.
The Credentialing Evaluation Board reviewed 80 applicants in 2016.


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:


Awards Committee

Chairs: Janet Peterson, CBSP and Jeffrey Potts, MPH, CBSP
The Awards Committee is looking forward to a productive year. This year each of the awards will have its own nomination form which will reflect the specific criteria for that award. We'd like to take this opportunity to encourage all ABSA International members to consider submitting a nomination for one of the honor awards. The committee depends on the membership to nominate deserving individuals in order to have the very best pool possible from which to select award recipients! Nominations are now open-please visit


E-Communications Committee

Chairs: Matt Anderson, PhD and Sarah Ziegler, PhD
The committee focused on a few areas of the new website to redesign (change layout and format) that have the most traffic and then work on the other areas once the new site is up and running. The plan is to focus on the front page, Career Growth, Membership, Resources, and About ABSA sections. We will copy the other sections to the new site without revisions or layout changes so we can rollout the redesigned site sooner and then we will update other sections one at a time until the whole site has been redesigned. The entire new site is being built using WordPress and will have a different theme. The pages not part of the initial revision will essentially be text on the page as it is now, but will appear consistent with the new theme. We hope to be able to have a soft rollout by May 1. The committee plans to seek help from other committees to ensure we get the content they want on sections of the website that relate to their committees.
If anyone has biosafety-related photos or graphics that we can use on the website you can have them start to send them to us.  We have mechanisms in place to credit the images with a name and link (i.e. UC Irvine BSL-3 Training Center
Terms/Subjects needed: News, Get Involved/Volunteer, Resources, Training Tools, Policy, Legislative Issues, Reviews & Comments, Accreditation, Build Your Skills/Career Growth, Biosafety Credentials, Job Board


Membership Committee

Chairs: Je T'aime Newton, MS, RBP and Malissa Mayer-Diaz, RBP
The Membership Committee has added new members and is working more closely with the ABSA International Office to ensure that effort is not duplicated or dropped. The committee has sent out a survey to new members. The committee is working to develop a survey intended for members who joined 3-6 years ago with the goal of getting more volunteers in various committees. The committee is also updating their P&Ps.


Nominating Committee

Chair: Melissa Morland, MS, MBA, RBP, CBSP
The Nominating Committee held a call in January to begin working on the slate of candidates for the 2017 ABSA International Election.


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 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 Follow the link to participate in the Mentoring Program. All ABSA International members are welcome!


Training Tools/Resources Committee

Chairs: Dave Harbourt, PhD and Eric Cook, MPH, CBSP
The Training Tools/Resources Committee continues to make improvements to the TT/R site for ABSA International members. The committee is in the process of fixing links that aren't functional on the site as well as evaluating tools currently found on the site to ensure that they are assigned the proper tab. Look for additional options in the future including a section for International Members as well as additional chemical/biological resources. The TT/R page is located on the website at


ABSA Owned Courses

Chairs: Willie Wong, RBP, CBSP and Chad Austin, PhD
Basic Risk Assessment
The preconference course was well received, especially the new interactive method that was implemented for this year's class. Class survey responses are being used to modify plans for upcoming courses. The Advanced Risk Assessment course will be offered at the 2017 Annual Conference-instructors are currently making changes to that course content in response to previous course feedback.
Principles and Practices of Biosafety
The CDC offering was held January 23-27, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The San Antonio, Texas offering is sold out with many on the waiting list. The July offering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is open and accepting registrations. The link to the Pittsburgh offering is The instructors are working with CRDF Global on an International Offering in late-2017/early-2018
Review Course
Over 40 modules were sold in 2016.


ABSA Store

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. 


ABSA Ambassadors Task Force

Lead: Marian Downing, RBP, CBSP
The ABSA International Ambassadors Task Force (Rob Heckert, Dee Zimmerman, Rich Rebar, and Marian Downing) has drafted a report form and outreach letter for potential ambassadors. The program is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017.


Bylaws Committee

Chairs: Francine Rogers, RBP, CBSP, Amy Ryan, MPH, RBP, and Tim Sturgis, RBP
Two committee Co-Chairs were submitted and approved by Council for the Bylaws Committee. Bylaws did not review any P&Ps for the last quarter of 2016, but reviewed three in January. Bylaws looks forward to other committees submitting their updated P&Ps for review.