NIH Announces the launch of “National Biosafety Stewardship Month” – Recent reports of lapses in biosafety practices involving Federal laboratories have served to remind us of the importance of constant vigilance over implementation of biosafety standards. These events potentially put individuals at risk, undermine public confidence in the research enterprise, and must be addressed to prevent their reoccurrence. Efforts to strengthen biosafety oversight and practice must be supported and carried out by organizational leadership, biosafety programs, and individual laboratories.
As a measure toward preventing future lapses as well as promoting stewardship of the life sciences and biosafety awareness across Federal entities, Federal laboratories will reinforce their attention to safe practices in biomedical research. In that regard, the NIH and other HHS agencies will be instituting National Biosafety Stewardship Month. NIH grantee institutions are also encouraged to participate in this important initiative. The NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, recently sent a memo to IBC chairs, IBC contacts, and biological safety officers urging their participation in the National Biosafety Stewardship Month. Additional information for grantees on this initiative can also be found in the NIH Guide Notice for Grants and Contracts.
During the month of September, NIH laboratories will, and NIH grantee institutions are encouraged to reexamine current policies and procedures for biosafety practices, conduct inventories of infectious agents and toxins in all laboratories, and reinforce biosafety training of investigators, laboratory staff, and members of IBCs.
For further information about the National Biosafety Stewardship Month, please contact the NIH Program on Biosecurity and Biosafety Policy, Office of the Director, at PBBP@mail.nih.gov or by telephone at (301) 496-9838.