e-Public Policy Update - August 2014

Contents:

  • ASM Statements on Biosafety, Dual Use and Laboratory Safety
  • CDC Establishes External Lab Safety Group Including ASM Members
  • ASM President Featured in NPR Story on Laboratory Safety
  • ASM Letter Regarding the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act
  • ASM Meets with State Department Science Advisor
  • ASM Signs Declaration About Antibiotic Resistance
  • Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares Listeria Guideline
  • Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares an Ebola Testing Guideline
  • ASM Participates in CDC Ebola Telebriefing
  • CDC Releases New Online Resource Highlighting Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD)
  • Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter

ASM Statements on Biosafety, Dual Use and Laboratory Safety
On July 21 the ASM sent a statement to ASM members regarding the biosafety lapses that were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early July. The statement urged members to ensure that they are acting with the highest level of responsibility and accountability in microbiology laboratories. To read the entire statement go to: http://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/93-policy/93014-biosafety-7-14. On July 31 ASM released a statement on Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) and biosafety. The statement included a history of issues and policy related to biological research with select agents and toxins, high containment laboratories, dual use research of concern and gain-of-function (GOF) research. The DURC statement is available at: http://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93024-durc-7-31-14. On August 25 ASM posted the statement, “What is in your Laboratory Freezer?” on the web. To read the statement, go to: http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/99-policy/policy/93059-freezer-8-14.  The USG is expected to soon post a memorandum on Enhancing Biosafety and Biosecurity that recommends infectious disease researchers conduct a comprehensive review of biosafety and biosecurity protocols to ensure they are adequate and ensure the safety of lab researchers and the public.

CDC Establishes External Lab Safety Group Including ASM Members
On July 24, the CDC announced the formation of an external laboratory safety workgroup of the Advisory Committee to the Director of CDC. This group will provide advice and guidance to the CDC Director and CDC’s new Director of Laboratory Safety. ASM member Joseph Kanabrocki was appointed chair and ASM Past-President Kenneth I. Berns, was appointed co-chair of the workgroup. ASM members Debra Hunt, Michael Pentella and David Relman are also members of the workgroup. To read the charge and see the membership of the Laboratory Safety Workgroup, please go to http://www.cdc.gov/about/lab-safety/workgroup.html.  On August 15, the CDC released a report on a May 23, 2014 inadvertent cross contamination of a low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) A (H9N2) virus sample with a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1) virus and the subsequent shipment of the contaminated culture to an external high-containment laboratory. To read the report go to: http://www.cdc.gov/about/pdf/lab-safety/investigationcdch5n1contaminationeventaugust15.pdf.

ASM President Featured in NPR Story on Laboratory Safety
ASM President, Tim Donohue, Ph.D., was interviewed for the story, “Biologists Choose Sides In Safety Debate Over Lab-Made Pathogens,” which aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on August 13. To listen to the story go to:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/08/13/339854400/biologists-choose-sides-in-safety-debate-over-lab-made-pathogens.

ASM Letter Regarding the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act
On July 21, the ASM sent a letter to Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education regarding a bill that he is considering introducing. The bill, “Accelerating Biomedical Research Act” would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter is available on the Public Policy web page at: https://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93012-abra-2014.

ASM Meets with State Department Science Advisor
Ronald Atlas, Ph.D., Chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board attended a meeting with Catherine A. Novelli the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment at the State Department and E. William Colglazier, Ph.D., Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State on July 24 to discuss science and technology advice in the State Department.

ASM Signs Declaration About Antibiotic Resistance
The World Alliance Against Antibiotic Resistance (WAAAR) has released a declaration about antibiotic resistance. The declaration includes 10 recommended actions including increasing awareness, action plans for containment, access to quality antibiotics, surveillance, use of diagnostic tests, stewardship, education efforts, and increased support for basic and applied research for the development of new antibiotics. The ASM is a supporting organization of WAAAR. To read the declaration go to: http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/WAAAR.pdf.

Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares Listeria Guideline

A California fruit packing company announced a recall of peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots due to the potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.  This notice prompted the PSAB Committee on Laboratory Practices to prepare Listeria Food Contamination and Microbiology Cultures to address the use of blood and stool cultures in this and other recent outbreaks.  To see this guideline, please click the link http://www.asm.org/index.php/component/content/article/100-policy/policy-programs/93029-listeria-guide

Laboratory Practices Committee Prepares an Ebola Testing Guideline
CDC issued an Interim Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission for Patients with Suspected Infection with Ebola Virus Disease on August 5. The Laboratory Practice Committee of the ASM has drafted a companion document as one possible approach to testing samples from patients with suspected Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. It is intended to assist laboratory personnel in following the August CDC recommended guidelines. The guideline is available at: http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/ASM-HFVEbolaLaboratoryInterimGuidance.pdf.

ASM Participates in CDC Ebola Telebriefing

ASM staff members participated in the July 28 Telebriefing on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  Deputy Director of CDC's National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) Stephan Monroe described the work the CDC and World Health Organization and other partners have been actively engaged in responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  You can follow CDC’s Ebola activities by going to http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/.

CDC Releases New Online Resource Highlighting Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD)
The CDC launched a new, interactive and mobile enabled AMD web site highlighting key resources:

  • Stories of AMD in Action – features stories of AMD technology use in response to public health threats. New stories will be added as CDC continues to build AMD capacity.
  • CDC funded projects – short descriptions and images of the 24 CDC-funded 2014 projects that advance the use of AMD technologies in public health.
  • Multimedia tools – currently features the Whole Genome Sequencing: The Future of Food Safety video describing the use of AMD in locating outbreak sources and preventing illness.

With AMD, CDC will be able to detect outbreaks sooner and respond more effectively, saving lives and reducing cost.

Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter
The August issue of the Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter has been published by the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities. To read the newsletter, go to: https://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/newsletters/minority-microbiology-newsletter/135-policy/documents/newsletters/minority-microbiology-mentor-newsletter/93032-mmm-8-14

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