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How CDC Strengthens Laboratory Safety

Leading Change

In 2014, CDC launched ambitious reforms to ensure that its laboratories are a national model of scientific excellence and safety. These reforms led to the creation of the position of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (ADLSS)—a senior official who serves as the single point of accountability for laboratory safety and science at CDC. This position leads an office (OADLSS) that advances two coequal and interrelated priorities: to enhance the scientific excellence and safety of every CDC laboratory.

Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety: Steve Monroe, PhD

Dr. Monroe is the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety at CDC. Dr. Monroe came to this role with 29-years’ experience as a CDC virologist and laboratory leader. As the ADLSS, he oversees the Office of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (OADLSS) which provides high-level oversight and coordination of critical laboratory policies and operations associated with laboratory safety and quality management programs at all CDC campuses.

Learn more about Dr. Monroe here.

CDC Activities to Strengthen Safety and Scientific Excellence in CDC Laboratories

CDC Lab Worker

Overseeing Safety in CDC Laboratories

CDC is committed to continually improving its culture of safety in its laboratories where transparency and accountability are valued; staff receive complete, comprehensive, and cutting-edge safety training; the safety of a procedure or project is considered before all else; and potential safety issues are quickly and openly addressed.

While working with dangerous pathogens, chemicals, and toxins always carries a degree of risk, CDC is committed to identifying, mitigating, reducing, and eliminating these risks in every feasible way to protect the safety of its staff and the American public.

The OADLSS oversees biological, chemical, and radiation safety at CDC laboratories. The OADLSS safety inspectors visit CDC laboratories annually to ensure that their practices, procedures, and equipment meet key safety standards. The OADLSS oversight includes ensuring that CDC laboratories are in full compliance with the requirements of the Federal Select Agent Program, which regulates the possession, use, and transfer of biological select agents and toxins.

In addition, the OADLSS also manages CDC’s Animal Care and Use Program Office (ACUPO), assuring CDC compliance with guidance and regulations for the responsible care of research animals at CDC.

Providing the Standards and Guidance on Biosafety

CDC co-authors the foundational biosafety manual Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now in its 5th Edition, the BMBL has become the standard guidance for biosafety practices in laboratories across the country.

Learn more about the BMBL

Educating and Engaging Biosafety Professionals

CDC International Symposium on Biosafety: Biosafety in the Era of One Health

The symposium is held bioannually for biosafety professionals in research, public health and animal health fields, facility managers, occupational health practitioners, and laboratorians in leadership positions.

Learn more about the Symposium

Advancing Laboratory Scientific Excellence

One of the tenets of CDC’s Pledge to the American People is that CDC will “base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data that is derived openly and objectively.” OADLSS is committed to ensuring that CDC laboratories continue to fulfill this pledge and serve as a model for scientific excellence and quality.

The scientific data produced by CDC’s laboratories provides a crucial foundation for sound, evidence-based public health decision-making across the country. OADLSS aids this work by providing CDC laboratories with leadership and technical expertise that both supports, and helps to advance excellence in laboratory science throughout CDC.

OADLSS supports this work by providing oversight and coordination of laboratory quality management and training programs for CDC laboratories. OADLSS establishes teams responsible for developing agency-level plans, policies, guidelines, manuals, and tools for implementation of quality management programs within Centers, Institutes and Offices, and for the continual improvement of laboratory quality and safety training for CDC staff.

Supporting the “Science of Laboratory Safety”

CDC is committed to advancing the “science of laboratory safety”—applying the same rigorous scientific methods to the safety of CDC’s laboratories that CDC uses to confront threats to the public’s health. To spur the science of safety in CDC laboratories, OADLSS supports CDC laboratories to advance innovative research or solutions to laboratory safety challenges.

Fostering the Next Generation of Laboratory Leaders

CDC’s Laboratory Leadership Service (LLS) is a fellowship program that prepares early career laboratory scientists to become future laboratory leaders. The fellowship combines competency-based public health laboratory training with practical, applied investigations and service. LLS will provide CDC and public health laboratories across the country with a pool of expertly trained laboratory scientists poised to meet the evolving challenges of laboratory science and safety.

Learn more about CDC’s Laboratory Leadership Service

Providing State-of-the-Art Laboratory Trainings

Maximizing the safety and impact of CDC’s laboratories requires a workforce of laboratory scientists trained in state-of-the-art techniques and technology. In partnership with the CDC Office of Public Health Scientific Services and the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS), Division of Laboratory Systems and Safe Labs Program, OADLSS supports the development of a comprehensive training curriculum to ensure that CDC’s laboratory scientists are equipped to meet current and future public health challenges.

Learn more about CDC Laboratory Trainings

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