Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring writes: CDC appoints permanent lab safety chief. Excerpt:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced the permanent appointment of its first associate director for laboratory science and safety, the agency's latest step in addressing a string of safety breaches.
The appointment of Stephan Monroe, PhD, who was named as the acting associate director for laboratory science and safety in May, marks the first time the agency's top lab administrator has reported directly to the CDC director.
Creation of a single point person for lab safety accountability first surfaced in a series of steps the CDC announced in July 2014 in the wake an anthrax incident the month before at one of its labs. At around the same time, the CDC revealed that a lab sample unintentionally cross-contaminated with highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza had been shipped to a US Department of Agriculture lab.
Problems at other federal facilities have kept lab safety issue in the headlines. Last summer, decades-old smallpox samples that were found to contain live virus were found abandoned in a Food and Drug Administration lab on the National Institutes of Health campus, and more recently, investigations by USA Today detailed problems at Department of Defense labs, including the shipment of live Bacillus anthracis samples—the bacterium that causes anthrax—to dozens of outside labs over the past decade.
At the end of 2014, the CDC said the search for a chief of lab safety was under way, and that CDC microbiologist Leslie Dauphin, PhD, had been appointed to oversee the task until the position was permanently filled.
Monroe, who replaced Dauphin in May, takes on the task at a time when high-profile lab safety problems have been swept up in the gain-of-function research debate and garnered the attention of Congress.