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News for Biosafety Professionals

October 2010

GBT President Recieves Prestigious Arnold G. Wedum Award At 2010 ABSA Biological Safety Conference.


Global Biohazard Technologies President, John Keene, DrPH, RBP,CBSP was awarded the Arnold G Wedum Award at the 2010 ABSA Biological Safety Conference.

The ABSA Presentation Committee said, "The Arnold G. Wedum Distinguished Service award is presented to an ABSA member who has significantly contributed to the organization and to the field of biosafety.  This year’s award recipient was Dr. John Keene, RBP, CBSP.  Dr. Keene is a registered and certified Biosafety Professional and has served ABSA in many capacities since its inception in 1984.  Dr. Keene has served twice as a member of the ABSA Council and was the first chair of the long range planning committee.  He has served on numerous committees, including: publications, technical review, long range planning, and accreditation.  He currently writes a column entitled “Ask the Expert” for Applied Biosafety, the Journal of the American Biological Safety Association and is on the editorial board of the journal.  Dr. Keene served as President of ABSA in 2000.

Dr. Keene, a 1983 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Public Health, was a member of the first class of doctoral students to enroll in the Biohazard Science Program offered at UNC, CH.  Dr. Keene did his doctoral research at the Division of Safety at the National Cancer Institute facility at Fort Detrick.  His doctoral dissertation entitled “The Transfer of Contaminants in Ventilated Spaces” involved studying contamination transfer in a model of an animal facility at the Fort Detrick facility.  Dr. Keene is the former Manager of Corporate Biosafety at Abbott Laboratories and is the former director of the Industrial Hygiene Graduate Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia.  He has consulted with numerous industrial, government and university clients with regard to biosafety and biocontainment issues and is currently President and managing partner of Global Biohazard Technologies, Inc. of Midlothian, VA a firm committed to assisting clients in developing solutions to their biosafety concerns

Dr. Arnold G. Wedum MD, PhD was the director of safety at the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories at Fort Detrick, MD during the early days of biological warfare preparedness research in the 1950’s and 60’s.  In his capacity as Director of Safety for this facility, he became very interested in the potential for laboratory acquired infections and the possibility of release of biological agents.  Dr. Wedum and his staff were the founders of the field of Biological Safety, researching many techniques to reduce the potential for employee exposures and infections.  He was responsible for the initiation of the the Biological Safety Conferences, at which government researchers from several different facilities would gather to discuss the problems that they were having and to provide research data demonstrating the safety procedures that they had developed.  The Biological Safety Conferences eventually attracted other laboratory and safety professionals, many of whom had served at Fort Detrick, from universities, industry and other government agencies.  In 1984 the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) was formed as an outgrowth and extension of the Biological Safety Conference started by Dr. Wedum.

Dr Keene's Acceptance Speech

"As a charter member of ABSA and 30 year attendee of the Biological Safety Conference, this organization has always been very important to me.  I want to thank the members of ABSA, the awards committee and the ABSA Council for this prestigious award.  I am honored and humbled by this recognition. 

ABSA has come a long way since the days of the original “Biosafety Conference” when our early leadership strived to establish and meet the needs of the nation’s biosafety professionals.  Over the last 26 years, ABSA has truly gained worldwide recognition and I am only one of many who have helped to contribute to that growth and recognition.

Dr. Wedum and his team at Fort Detrick were the true pioneers in the development of solutions to the problems that they encountered in performing their dangerous work.  It is important that we, as Biosafety Professionals, all recognize that in order to continue to grow and meet the needs of the people for whom we serve, we need to have  practical and cost effective approaches to the challenging problems that arise.  We have to recognize that, while each facility is considered unique, the basic principles of biosafety developed by Dr. Wedum and others are based on the complex practices of infectious disease transmission and epidemiology.  These practices are universal and the actual application of these principles is, and must be, unique for the facility or institution that we serve.  One size fits all does not apply to Biosafety solutions.  We must also recognize that with the passing of time, the engineering developments that contribute to safe working environments have improved tremendously as a result of many of  the dedicated people that are here today.  But, engineering is not perfect and the more complicated that engineering, the more chance there is for problems with the engineering.  It is the human factor that is most important in our quest for safety in our laboratories.

We must insure, just as Dr. Wedum and his associates did, that the operational procedures developed for each facility are compatible with the engineering of that facility and  that the personnel working in the facilities understand the facility and follow those procedures.

While information from other organizations is sometimes helpful as a basis for developing solutions, what someone else does at their institution, may not work at yours.  So I would encourage each of you to, in the vernacular of the age, “think outside the box” in solving the problems that arise in your own work environment. 

  • Do not make the solutions to your problems more complex than they absolutely have to be, but develop the solution that best fits your environment. 
  • Enlist the help of those who are working or expecting to work in the facility, as well as outside experts with a thorough working knowledge of biosafety principles and practices.
  • Know what you don’t know and get help.
  • Make your decisions based on scientific review, practicality and cost effectiveness. 
  • Develop a sound, defensible rationale for the solutions to your problems.  Just because someone else does it one way, doesn’t mean that it is the right way for you.


Ever since my early days in the clinical laboratory and hospital infection control, as well as my work in the industrial sector developing biocontainment laboratories and production facilities during the development of the first HIV test kits at Abbott Laboratories, I’ve been committed to the protection of personnel and the environment from exposure to the highly infectious materials with which we work.  I have recognized that a biosafety program will succeed if one bases ones decisions on the understanding of infectious diseases and epidemiology as Dr. Wedum and his fellow scientists did at the dawn of biosafety.

Again, I thank you, one and all for this award, and look forward to many more years of working with you and with ABSA."

October 2009

GBT President teaches BSL-3 design course at the ABSA Biological Safety Conference.


Global Biohazard Technologies president, John Keene, DrPH, RBP,CBSP is teaching a pre-conference course at the 2009 ABSA Biological Safety Conference.

The course, titled 'Biosafety Level 3 Design - Back To Reality' addresses the myths that have been promulgated regarding the building and operation of biocontainment laboratories. It provides insight into the true requirements for design and operation of biocontainment laboratories and demonstrates the interaction of operating procedures with building design.

The 2009 ABSA Biological Safety Conference is being held on October 18 - 21, in Miami Florida.

April 2009

GBT Managing Partner Receives 'Kudos' After Speaking at the Tradeline International Conference on Biocontainment.

March 9-10, 2009

Global Biohazard Technologies Managing Partner, Ronald Trower, RBP recently spoke at the Tradeline International Conference on Biocontainment.

Mr. Trower discussed: "How five critical SOPs should be shaping your biocontainment facility plans". His discussion was very well received, prompting Tradeline president, Steven Westfall, PhD to send a personal letter offering "kudos for a job well done".

Read The Letter