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Members Sought for Cambridge Biosafety Committee

Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking Cambridge residents to fill two vacancies on the Cambridge Biosafety Committee (CBC).

Biosafety Committee members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager for a 5-year term to work with the Cambridge Public Health Department staff as designated by the Cambridge Public Health Commissioner in oversight, enforcement and permit issuance under the Recombinant DNA Technology Ordinance (Chapter 8.20, 1981, 1993) and the Cambridge Laboratory Biosafety Regulation (2009).

The Cambridge Biosafety Committee is composed of at least five members who serve five-year terms and who may renew membership. Members do not need to have a scientific background, but will be considered more favorably if they do have applicable training or professional experience in molecular biology, genetics, infectious diseases, or laboratory biosafety. The CBC meets on the third Thursday of every month (except for a single combined summer meeting for July and August), from 3-5:30 p.m., in the large 2nd floor conference room at the Windsor Community Health Centre, 119 Windsor Street. Currently, the CBC is still meeting virtually pending the resumption of in-person meetings.

The role of the Biosafety Committee is to ensure public accountability for safe biological laboratory practices in safe laboratories or manufacturing facilities that utilize or process recombinant or synthetic materials as defined in the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines). The Committee utilizes the NIH Guidelines and the CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) in order to determine compliance with accepted best practices for infectious, non-recombinant research governed by the Laboratory Biosafety Regulation. Final determination of applicable standards from the NIH Guidelines and the BMBL is held by the Committee and the Public Health Commissioner or their designee. Review of all new applications and amendment requests will occur through presentation to the Committee in a regularly scheduled (monthly) Committee meeting or by an appropriate administrative procedure for minor amendments. Final CBC approval is required before an annual, non-provisional permit can be granted to any applicant.

The responsibilities of the Cambridge Biosafety Committee include:

  • Reviewing the appropriate design and operation of all laboratory areas within the proposed facility for research or manufacturing involving regulated biological agents at the biosafety containment level (Biosafety Level) request for that location;
  • Determining whether appropriate and reasonable practices to contain and mitigate biological hazards match the potential biological hazards associated with the specific agents in the form present, particularly as they impact lab workers and the community;
  • Listening to each presentation for a new or amended permit and providing feedback or submitting questions to the applicant as applicable;
  • Reviewing laboratory walkthrough inspection summaries provided by Committee staff before determining that all applicable standards and practices for safe operation of a biological laboratory are met;
  • Reviewing practices, expectations, and standards imposed on the regulated laboratories by the Committee in order to establish clear enforcement protocols and to offer transparency to the regulated community. Key policies and direction will be summarized in a companion document to the ordinance and the regulation;
  • Providing a community perspective in assessing the impact of any application and anticipating issues of greater public concern or interest;
  • Participating in scheduled walkthrough inspections for higher-containment or higher-risk facilities (primarily BSL-3 laboratories);
  • Attending 11 scheduled meetings per year on a reliable basis. Meetings are occasionally cancelled when the is no current business to conduct.

Members are encouraged to review biosafety training materials developed by CBC staff to gain greater familiarity with the principles of biosafety, specific risks associated with the biological agents in use, and the enabling technologies used within the biotech and biological research sectors. Further outside training opportunities will also be identified by the CBC Chair.

For more information about the long and influential history of biosafety oversight in Cambridge since 1977, visit https://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/services/regulatory-activities/biosafety/. For more information on the Cambridge Biosafety Committee, contact Sam Lipson, Director of Environmental Health for Cambridge Public Health Department and Biosafety Committee Chair, slipson@challiance.org.

Applications to serve on this commission can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at CambridgeMA.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume or applicable experience should be submitted during the online application process. The application deadline is Friday, September, 3, 2021.

Page was posted on 7/28/2021 3:03 PM
Page was last modified on 7/29/2021 1:49 PM
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