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Home > Our Work > Events Archive > 2005 International Conference on Biosafety and Biorisks

International Conference on Biosafety and Biorisks

Where scientists, health leaders, and practitioners from all over the world discussed the biosafety and biosecurity challenges presented by SARS, influenza, and other major epidemic threats, as well as the efforts needed to improve international cooperation prior to and during future epidemics.


The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC organized the International Conference on Biosafety and Biorisks in collaboration with the World Health Organization Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR) Office in Lyon, France. This meeting convened 150 scientists, health leaders and practitioners from all over the world to discuss biosafety and biosecurity challenges presented by SARS, influenza and other major epidemic threats, as well as the efforts needed to improve international cooperation prior to and during future epidemics. The conference was held in Lyon, France.

At the event, participants discussed the risks and promises of laboratory science in a public health response. For example, the contribution of laboratory research during the 2003 SARS epidemic was essential to the resolution of the epidemic. However, problems arose, and there are lessons to be learned for future outbreaks: Standards for exchanging and tracking research samples are lacking, laboratory escapes have highlighted the need for biosafety training and standards, and research communication standards are needed for critical information to cross professional disciplines.

For the future, effective public health management of pathogens (either natural or man-made) will require harmonization of biosafety, research, and communication standards among nations and across professional disciplines. This conference will give participants a chance to plan for the next multidisciplinary response to an epidemic-so it can be fast, accurate, and safe.

Conference Objectives

  • To share on-the-ground lessons from scientists and public health professionals, learned during SARS and other infectious disease outbreaks of the past.

  • To explore organizational and behavioral approaches to epidemic management and biosafety.

  • To examine the role of WHO, and organizational networks such as ProMED-MAIL, GPHIN, RAS-BICHAT, and Anthrax EuroNet, in preparing for, detecting, and responding to epidemics.

  • To discuss the need for common guidelines that cross professional and national boundaries in resolving a public health crisis-whether that crisis is the result of an emerging natural epidemic, a laboratory accident, or an act of bioterrorism

Organizers: Center for Biosecurity of UPMC; World Health Organization Disease Surveillance and Response Office

Sponsor: The Nuclear Threat Initiative


Wednesday, March 2, 2005

  • Welcome and Conference Introduction: Tara O'Toole, MD, MPH, and Guénaël R. Rodier, MD

  • Keynote: International Cooperation to Confront New and Old Diseases: D. A. Henderson, MD, MPH,

Lessons Learned from the Response to SARS and Other Epidemics

  • The Global Response to Emerging Epidemics: David Heymann, MD
    Detection, surveillance, and reporting of the SARS crisis, and the WHO role in coordinating/performing research. What should laboratories, public health professionals, and politicians around the world understand about WHO capabilities in an epidemic?
  • Scientific Collaboration in a Time of SARS: Prof. Dr. Rolf Hilgenfeld
    The challenges of scientific collaboration across countries and cultures, sample sharing, and competition toward the development of therapeutics.
  • Emerging Infections-How Can Laboratories Prepare? Dr. Wilma Lim
    Maintaining laboratory biosafety practices and the challenges of reaching surge capacity during the SARS outbreak.

Preparing for Epidemics

  • Influenza-A Developing Crisis: Robert G. Webster, PhD
    An overview of current preparedness levels, the necessity for careful attention to biosafety, and the challenges in creating an effective vaccine.
  • Avian Influenza-The Indonesian Experience: Amin Soebandrio, MD
    A front-line perspective on Indonesia's response to avian influenza, highlighting successes and lessons learned in infection control, and vaccine production and use for avian influenza.
  • WHO Activities for Management of Biorisks: Brad Kay, MS, MPH, DrPh
    WHO activities that enhance global biosecurity, such as international health regulations, laboratory and epidemiology strengthening, and biological risk management.
  • Building Robust Response Systems for Epidemics: Jean-Marc Choukroun, PhD
    An Organizational Approach: What is "systems thinking"? And how can it help create organizational strategies for scientific and public health collaboration and handling surges?

Panel on Biosafety

  • Gigi Kwik Grönvall, PhD, Fellow, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, Moderator
  • Biosafety-What are the different levels and what is the continuum?Jonathan Richmond, PhD
    An overview of the design and implementation of a biosafety program.
  • BioSafety Challenges for BioRisk Management WHO Guidelines for Laboratory Biosecurity:Dr. Nicoletta Previsani
    An overview of the WHO biosafety program with, emphasis on the recent development of guidelines for laboratory biosecurity.
  • Experiences with High Containment: Dr. Alain Jean Georges
    What are the security/safety challenges in running a biosafety level-4 laboratory?
  • Virtual Tour of a P4 facility: Dr. Alain Jean Georges

Thursday, March 3, 2005

  • Welcome to Lyon and Introduction to Day 2: Gérard Collomb, Mayor of Lyon (invited); Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD

  • Leading with Safety: Shaping Culture and Behaviors: James Grant
    Beyond addressing physical hazards in the workplace, successful safety efforts improve the human dimensions of safety: attitude and behavior. How can managers of laboratories create a safety culture in their workplace?

  • Training for Crisis Management Dilemmas in Europe: Jesper Grönvall, MS
    The use of scenario-based training to prepare for political and strategic dilemmas in Europe, in the event of a bioterrorism attack or a naturally occurring outbreak, including distributing scarce resources.

Panel Discussion: Communication of Scientific Information

  • Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Ph.D., Fellow, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, Moderator
  • Anthrax-EuroNet: Dr. Amanda Ozin
    A discussion of the EC-sponsored Anthrax-EuroNet project, which aims to strengthen networking activities among academia, industry, policymakers, and the public health sector to harmonize best research practices for development of anti-anthrax prophylaxes, to set priorities and response plans to counter anthrax attacks and hoaxes, and to boost competitive research in Europe on other high-risk agents.
  • Global Digital Awareness of Disease Outbreaks-The Experience of Pro-MED: Marjorie Pollack, MD
    Since 1994, ProMED-mail has served the international infectious disease community through the rapid global dissemination of outbreak information. What insights can be gained for the future of international disease surveillance


  • The Technical Foundation for Public Health Decisions: Caroline Ash
    A discussion of the challenges of publishing good scientific data quickly-when political decisions are at stake.

  • Early Warning Systems for Global Public Health: Abla Mawudeku
    The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) is a multilingual application that employs a unique combination of leading-edge technologies to provide an early warning system for potentially serious public health events around the world. Its purpose is to disseminate information on events that may have international implications.

  • Interpol and Bio-criminalization: Ronald K. Noble, JD
    Interpol is promoting a global effort to deal with the transnational threat of bioterrorism, by encouraging nations to make reforms. This discussion will address the progress and plans for the future of "biocriminalization."

  • Preparedness for Deliberate Epidemics: Dr. Ottorino Cosivi
    An overview of WHO activities to assist national preparedness for deliberate use of biological materials for harm, including a discussion of WHO guidance for public health response to biological and chemical weapons and WHO assistance for national threat assessments.

  • Health Security Cooperation in the European Union: Germain Thinus
    Presentation of the EU Rapid Alert System, operational since 2002, which acts as a coordination mechanism for preparedness and response to biological and chemical agent attacks.

  • The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN): Dr. May C. Chu
    GOARN is a technical collaboration of existing institutions and networks that pool human and technical resources for the rapid identification, confirmation, and response to outbreaks of international importance. This talk will focus on its recent efforts to combat influenza.

  • The New International Health Regulations: David Byrne
    The final draft of the revised International Health Regulations will be presented to the World Health Assembly in May 2005. Mr. Byrne will discuss the new regulations to prepare for future epidemics.

  • Closing Remarks: Tara O'Toole, MD, MPH


  • Caroline Ash, Senior Editor, Science Magazine, Europe

  • David Byrne, Special Envoy to the World Health Organization

  • Jean-Marc Choukroun, PhD, Affiliate Faculty, Center for Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania; Principal, Park/Mathieson Group, Inc.

  • Dr. May C. Chu, Technical Officer, Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens, Alert and Response Operations, CSR/CDS/WHO

  • Dr. Ottorino Cosivi, Project Leader, Preparedness for Deliberate Epidemics, WHO Office in Lyon, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR)

  • Dr. Alain Jean Georges, Director of INSERM Laboratoire P4

  • James Grant, Business Development Manager for Behavioral Science Technology, Inc.

  • Gigi Kwik Grönvall, PhD, Fellow, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC

  • Jesper Grönvall, MS, Senior Analyst, CRISMART, Swedish National Defense College

  • D. A. Henderson, MD, MPH, Professor of Public Health and Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Resident Fellow, Center for Biosecurity UPMC; Dean Emeritus, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

  • David Heymann, MD, Special Representative of the WHO Director General, World Health Organization; Former Executive Director of Communicable Diseases, WHO

  • Prof. Dr. Rolf Hilgenfeld, Director of the Institut für Biochemie (Institute of Biochemistry), University of Lübeck

  • Brad Kay, MS, MPH, DrPh, Coordinator, Laboratory Capacity Development and Biosafety, WHO Office in Lyon, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR)

  • Dr. Wilina Lim, Consultant Medical Microbiologist with the Virology Division, Public Health Laboratory Services, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, Hong Kong

  • Abla Mawudeku, Manager, Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Ronald K. Noble, JD, Secretary General of Interpol

  • Tara O'Toole, MD, MPH, CEO and Director, Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

  • Dr. Amanda Ozin, Project Manager of Anthrax EuroNet, based in the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany

  • Marjorie Pollack, MD, Associate Editor, Epidemiological and Surveillance Moderator,and Associate Editor for Subregional Programs for ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society of Infectious Diseases

  • Dr. Nicoletta Previsani, Project Leader, Biosafety, WHO Office in Lyon, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR)

  • Jonathan Richmond, PhD, Former Director, Office of Health and Safety, CDC; Jonathan Richmond and Associates, Inc.

  • Guénaël R. Rodier, MD, Director, Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response, CDS/CSR, World Health Organization

  • Amin Soebandrio, MD, Assistant Deputy Minister for Research and Technology for Health and Medical Sciences, Indonesia

  • Germain Thinus, Project Leader of the Coordination Mechanism, European Commission

  • Robert G. Webster, PhD, Rose Marie Thomas Chair of the Virology Division, Department of Infectious Disease, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN; Director, WHO Collaborating Center on the Ecology of Influenza Viruses in Lower Animals and Birds


  • Jonathan Abrahams, WHO
  • Clark Abt, Abt Associates, Inc., U.S.
  • Agnes Ambrosi, U.S. Navy
  • Bernd Appel, Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin
  • Nadiia Aristova, National Medical University of O.O. Bohomoletz, Kiev
  • Vadym Aristov, National Medical University of O.O. Bohomoletz, Kiev
  • Ron Atlas, University of Louisville
  • Tamara Awerbuch, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Helmut Bachmayer, European Biological Safety Association
  • Adrian Baciu, Interpol
  • Maurizio Barbeschi, WHO
  • Natalie Barnett, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Anouk Berger, WHO
  • Isabelle Bergeri, WHO
  • M. Betancourt, Ministry of Health, Mexico City
  • Penny Bevan, Department of Health , UK
  • Walter Biederbick, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin
  • Romain Billet, TecKnowMetrix, France
  • Michelle Boccoz, Pasteur Institute, Paris
  • Stefan Brockmann, State Health Office, Dept. of Hygiene & Infectious Diseases, Germany
  • Diego Buriot, WHO
  • Jay Butler, U.S. Centers for Disease Control
  • Denis Cavert, Baxter Bioscience
  • Ren Ee Chee, Genome Institute of Singapore
  • Sebastien Cognat, WHO
  • Wen-Hsiang Chou, National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan
  • Christine Cognat, LeProgres
  • Daniel Cohen, Tel Aviv University
  • Pierre Colas, Aptanomics SA, Lyon
  • Robin Coupland, ICRC
  • Michel Cure, Haut Comite Francais pour la Defense Civile (Ministre de I'Interieur )
  • Isabelle Daoust-Maleval, Secretariat General for National Defence (SGDN), Office of the Prime Minister, France
  • Satadal Das, Peerless Hospital & B.K. Roy Research Center , Kolkata
  • Megan Davidson, Duke University
  • Stephen Desiderio, Johns Hopkins Medical School
  • Molly D'Esopo, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Anatoli Diakov, Center for Arms Control Moscow
  • Antonio DiCaro, INMI
  • Betty Dodet, Dodet Bioscience
  • Philippe Dubois, WHO
  • Nguyen Tien Dzung, National Institute of Veterinary Research, Vietnam
  • Martin Enserink, Science Magazine
  • Gerald Epstein, Center for Strategic & International Studies
  • Joe Fitzgerald, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • David Franz, Midwest Research Institute, Maryland
  • Katsu Furukawa, Japan Science and Technology Agency
  • Walter Gaber, Fraport AG (Frankfurt Airport)
  • Grant Gallagher, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)
  • Lisa Garin-Michaud, WHO
  • Henri Garrigue, WMD Centre, NATO
  • Marie-Claude Georges-Courbot, Centre de recherché Mérieux Pasteur de Lyon
  • Silvia Ghezzi, HSR
  • Yuri Golenyaev, Rosmedprom Association Moscow
  • Nick Goncharenko, Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin
  • Rene Gottschalk, Public Health Office in Frankfurt
  • Eduardo Gotuzzo, University of Peru
  • Manfred Green, Israel Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Francois Guillemin, UNMOVIC
  • Olli Haikala, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Helsinki
  • David Harper, Department of Health, London
  • Elisa D. Harris, CISSM
  • Jessica Henderson, New Defence Agenda, Brussels
  • Philippe Herman, Institute of Public Health , Brussels
  • Penny Hitchcock, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Thomas Inglesby, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Guiseppe Ippolito, Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive Lazzaro Spallanzani, Italy
  • John Issigonis, William Goodenough College, London
  • Grace Jennings, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Loic Josseran, IdVS
  • Ingegerd Kallings, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control/WHO Collaborating Centre for Biological Safety
  • Barry Kellman, DePaul University
  • David Kelvin, University Health Network, Ontario, Canada
  • M.E. Kennedy, Consultant in Biosafety , Canada
  • David Koh, National University of Singapore
  • Florence Komurian-Pradel, bioMerieux SA
  • Brad Kramer, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Peter Kreidl, Epidemiologic Observatory , Italy
  • Peter Kristensen, University of Aarhus
  • Angel Kunchev, Ministry of Health, Bulgaria
  • Claire Lachlan, Smallpox Biosecurity
  • Jean-Francois Lacronique, Ministry of Health France
  • Andrea Lapp, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Stefano Lazzari, WHO
  • Steve Leach, Health Protection Agency, UK
  • Christophe Leculier, INSERM Laboratoire P4
  • Kobi-Rene Leing, ICRC
  • Richard Lemay, Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Regula Leuenberger, WHO
  • Stephanie Loranger, Federation of American Scientists
  • Gesa Lucking, Bundesminsterium für Gesundheit und Soziale Sicherung
  • Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist
  • Stanislaw Majcherczyk, Foundation for Prevention of Terrorism and Biological Threats, Poland
  • Joseph Malone, DoD Global Emerging Infections System (GEIS)
  • Bernard Mandrand, BioMerieux
  • Mary Marshall, Animal Health Resources Ltd., Oxford
  • Christian Mathiot, WHO
  • Kay Mereish, UN
  • Moutot Michel, AFP
  • Ali Akbar Mohammadi, WHO
  • Giulia Morosetti, Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Health Department, Italy
  • Mike Nicholds, Avecia
  • Jennifer Nuzzo, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Paula Olsiewski, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Meir Oren, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, Israel
  • Marc Ostfield, U.S. Department of State
  • George Padilla, Columbia University
  • Marie-Claire Paty, Ministry of Health France
  • Antoine Pierson, WHO
  • Julio Pinto, OIE
  • Emmanuel Pizzo, Ministry of Defence France
  • Sarah Prudhomme, bioMerieux SA
  • Roger Roffey, Swedish Defence Research Agency
  • Ariella Rosengard, University of Pennsylvania
  • Cathy Roth, WHO
  • Axel Lambert de Rouvroit, Ministry of Health France
  • Balaram Sahu, Regional Institute for Technological Advancement, Bhubaneswar
  • Chin-Shui Shih, Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Carmem Pessoa da Silva, WHO
  • Karl Simpson, Benezech-Simpson
  • Carthage Smith, International Council for Science, Paris
  • Kenneth Staley, U.S. Department of State
  • Larry Starr, University of Pennsylvania
  • Gregory Stewart, U.S. Department of State
  • Darshna Tanna, Foundation Mérieux
  • Terence Taylor, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-U.S.
  • Kevin Tonat, Cosmos Alliance
  • Eric Toner, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Emmanuelle Tuerlings, WHO
  • Thierry Vallet, INSERM Laboratoire P4
  • Guy Vernet, bioMerieux
  • Richard Waldhorn, Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
  • Clifford Wendel, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
  • Robbin Weyant, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, U.S.
  • Deborah Wilson, NIH
  • Reto Wollenmann, Center for Security Studies, Zurich
  • Donglai Wu, Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, China
  • Jaime Yassif, Tsinghua University, Beijing
  • Mohammad Youssef, WHO



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