Biosafety Professionals: A Role in the Pandemic Response Team

Kelsey Lane Warmbrod, Jennifer Cole, C. Matthew Sharkey, Aparupa Sengupta, Nancy Connell, Rocco Casagrande, Patricia Delarosa

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of '‘normal’’ life in the United States, demonstrating weaknesses in pandemic preparedness and response. While several novel initiatives have been implemented since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, not all available resources have been deployed to their maximum potential—biosafety professionals are one such resource that could be better used to support local pandemic response. Biosafety is an applied science used to reduce biological risks while allowing for continuity of operations. In biological research laboratories, biosafety professionals balance science, safety, and security interests by promoting responsible conduct and applying mitigation strategies (eg, engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment) to reduce risk.1 While biosafety professionals typically work in laboratory or clinical settings, their knowledge and skill sets can be used to conduct on-the-ground data collection of person, place, and time information and to assess individual biological risks that can contribute to innovative epidemiological surveillance initiatives, such as wastewater testing and collection. Biosafety professionals can be ideal resources to support businesses, municipalities, schools, churches, and other community settings in creating reopening plans or providing advice on risk mitigation during communicable disease emergencies, especially when local public health practitioners are overwhelmed with other duties. Many biosafety professionals come from a biological science background and can also help fill gaps in collecting local epidemiological data, lend scientific rigor to experimental design requirements, and expand and support local epidemiological efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-458
Number of pages5
JournalHealth Security
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021


  • Covid-19
  • Biosafety protection
  • Epidemic management/response
  • First responders
  • National strategy/policy
  • Risk communication

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