Emory University biosafety experts will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, to train more than 60 scientists there on how to work safely with dangerous laboratory pathogens, while protecting the community in the event of a disease outbreak.
Emory's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research (CPHPR) is partnering with the U.S. Department of State and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Hanoi to provide intensive biosafety training to leaders from around Vietnam. The endeavor will begin Oct. 13 with a general biosafety overview and will be followed by hands-on laboratory training from Oct. 14-31.
The initiative targets laboratory workers who study pathogenic agents like avian influenza (bird flu) and tuberculosis. During the hands-on training, participants will demonstrate safe laboratory practices and effective emergency response procedures. The trainings will also include routine donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, spill management and emergency evacuation.
"Laboratories play a critical role in public health," says Sean Kaufman, MPH, CHES, senior associate and CPHPR director of training programs. Kaufman oversees the biosafety training program. "The information we gain from laboratories tells public health leaders what we may be up against and how to respond to it," he says.
"We must invest in the people who are working on the frontlines of public health so they can do their jobs safely, effectively and without bringing harm to themselves or outside communities," adds Kaufman.
The Emory team has conducted similar biosafety lab trainings in Thailand and is planning additional trainings in India. The U.S. Department of State has designated Southeast Asia a priority for biosafety lab training because of the increasing number of scientists in the region who are doing research and ensuring laboratory preparedness in the event of pandemic influenza.
"Our goal is to increase capacity within Vietnam and in any country we work so they can continue to teach individuals the skills and strategies of biosafety using the model that was developed at Emory," says Kaufman.
Since 2005, Emory has trained more than 1,500 individuals from the United States and around the globe, including veterinarians, principal investigators, lab executives, emergency first responders, scientists, facility managers, and animal technicians.
CPHPR is housed at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and led by Ruth Berkelman, MD. CPHPR's biosafety training program is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Southeast Regional Center for Emerging Infections and Biodefense (SERCEB).