Although high containment biological laboratories are needed to characterize highly dangerous human and animal pathogens, assist in disease surveillance, and produce vaccines, they are complex systems with inherent risks. During 10-13 July 2011, 68 participants from 32 countries gathered in Istanbul, Turkey for a workshop organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on Anticipating Biosecurity Challenges of the Global Expansion of High Containment (equivalent to U.S. CDC Biological Safety Level 3 or 4) Laboratories. The U.S. Department of State’s Biosecurity Engagement Program sponsored the workshop, which was held in partnership with the Turkish Academy of Sciences. The attendees included laboratory directors, scientists, engineers, and members of governmental and non-governmental organizations. The participants were active in the fields of biosafety, biosecurity, scientific research, disease surveillance, and public health.
The U.S. National Research Council report of the international workshop examines biosafety and biosecurity issues related to the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of high containment biological laboratories. To develop a sense of the current norms in the world, the workshop attendees described the history and current challenges they face in their individual laboratories. The report details steps that were taken to improve safety and security, from running training programs to implementing a variety of personnel reliability measures including physical security, access controls, and monitoring pathogen inventories. The workshop report also identifies tensions in the field and details participants’ suggestions for possible areas for action.
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