National Regional Center of Excellence Meeting

CHHS Health Director Dr. Marita Mike will present at the National Regional Center of Excellence Meeting.

“Improving Security at Biological Research Laboratories”

The Anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001heightened biosecurity concerns in the United States. An unprecedented increase in research funding and new facility development resulted. The increased research activity in this area has raised a policy conundrum. On one hand, this activity has strengthened and encouraged the use of our best scientific resources to develop countermeasures to the weaponization of dangerous biopathogens. On the other hand, additional research on countermeasures has increased use of the very biopathogens we seek to defeat.

How can the United States improve security measures at laboratories that handle the most dangerous pathogens (BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs), without hindering the development of research designed to protect against such attacks?

Included for discussion are a summary of statutory and regulatory mandates addressed to BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs; a summary of leading reports that have been issued recommending improved biosecurity measures at those labs; and a brief description of biosafety mishaps at BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs that have provoked the controversy at hand. The presentation concludes with recommendations for improving biosecurity while preserving the research environment key to academic institutions.

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