Statement of Task
This international workshop will examine issues related to the design, construction, and operation of high-containment biological laboratories—equivalent to United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Biological Safety 3 or 4 level labs. Although these laboratories are needed to isolate some highly dangerous pathogens, they are complex systems with inherent risks. The workshop will aim to engage scientific experts and policy makers both from countries experienced in operating laboratories and from countries that are contemplating or undertaking the construction of new facilities. Possible areas for discussion include:
• Technological options to meet diagnostic, research, and other goals;
• Laboratory construction and commissioning;
• Operational maintenance to provide sustainable capabilities, safety, and security;
• Measures for encouraging a culture of responsible conduct.
Additionally, some workshop participants will develop and present case studies. Case studies may describe a country’s facilities, capabilities, and regulations as well as past accidents, safety and security issues, and lessons learned.
Workshop participants will explore possible strategies for enhancing biological safety and security worldwide and will offer practical suggestions to countries considering constructing or expanding their high biocontainment facilities. An individually authored workshop summary will be issued.
A number of international organizations have encouraged countries to improve their laboratory biosafety and biosecurity,1 and workshop participants were asked to examine the growing number of high biocontainment labs in the context of the full biosafety and biosecurity spectrum (see Box 1-2).
Biosafety and Biosecurity: Historical Context
In general, this report uses the term ‘biosecurity’ to refer to measures intended to reduce the deliberate misuse of biological materials or biotechnologya while ‘biosafety’ refers to protecting laboratory workers, community members, and the environment from accidental exposure to pathogens (NRC, 2009d; see pages 8-9). Nonetheless, the topics are interrelated. Proper maintenance and operations increase the ability to secure a facility, and a well-trained staff that takes pride in their work is less likely to cause an accidental breach and more likely to detect an insider threat and successfully guard against deliberate breaches (Franz and Le Duc, 2011).
1 In 2005, the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA58.29, which encourages the use of national and international resources to improve laboratory biosafety (WHO, 2005). In 2004, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1540, which requires States to take measures to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons, by State and non-State actors (U.N. Security Council, 2004).