effort and resources into building facilities, she contended that creative solutions are also needed to help meet health and veterinary needs and to improve lab sustainability. As an example, she cited the growing interest in using molecular diagnostics instead of culture-based assays for some tests.
PART 1: THE FUNCTION OF HIGH-CONTAINMENT LABS AND FACTORS ENCOURAGING AND CONSTRAINING THE CREATION OF NEW LABS
Chair: Katsuhisa Furukawa
Katsuhisa Furukawa (Rebuild Japan Initiative, Japan) opened the session by relating that the March 11, 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku and the resulting tsunami is the worst natural disaster his country has experienced in the last 1,000 years, and that even though the resulting nuclear power crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was caused by an exceedingly rare combination of events, the public blamed the government and the power companies for their lack of preparation. He cautioned the audience that if a similar incident were to occur at a biological laboratory, they should not expect their failure to be met with public forgiveness.
Dr. Furukawa continued that in view of the number of labs being built or expanding, it is particularly important to think about the responsibility of the scientific community, the potential for both accidental and malicious breaches, and what is required to be safe. He explained that the first two talks in the session would provide examples of some of the many ways different countries may choose to approach biosafety and biosecurity using regulations, improved training, and investments in technology. He expressed his hope that in the course of the discussions participants would report on the options their countries were using.
To end the introduction, he explained that the third talk would provide some background on the scale of containment laboratory capacity expansion as well as some of the factors underlying this growth. He then reiterated his hope that in the discussions participants would add additional information about their countries and regions.
United States Biosafety Experiences During the Last Two Decades: Lessons and Achievements
The first speaker in this session was Peter Palese (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, United States), who described the United States requirements for biosafety and biosecurity from the point of view of a working scientist.
Dr. Palese works with negative strand RNA viruses, including influenza, measles, Newcastle disease, and Ebola. His lab relies on the 5th edition of the manual “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories” (BMBL) (United States HHS, 2009), which is considered the “biosafety bible,” as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website3 for biosafety guidance. To decide on the risk level of an experiment and what precautions are appropriate, he consults the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on risk groups4 and proposed biosafety levels, evaluates proposed lab procedures, including the quantity of the organism to be used in the work, and considers the staff involved.
4 NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (Appendix B). Available at: http://oba.od.nih.gov/oba/rac/Guidelines/NIH_Guidelines.htm. Accessed September 14, 2011.