Lab Matters Spring 2024 | Page 27


Advancing Biosafety and Emergency Preparedness Through Fellowship Initiatives

By Stormy Chester , specialist , Biosafety and Biosecurity ; and Jill Sutton , specialist , Emergency Preparedness and Response
Public health laboratory fellowships help aspiring professionals bridge the gap between their academic knowledge and real-life experience , preparing them for diverse career opportunities in laboratory science while also contributing to the public health laboratory workforce .
In 2021 , APHL received American Rescue Plan funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) to expand the Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program : an APHL-CDC Initiative , which educates and trains fellows through a competency-based core curriculum while fostering their skills and scientific knowledge in a specific laboratory science focus area . The Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program now supports nine laboratory science focus areas , two of which aim to enhance public health preparedness : biosafety and biosecurity , and emergency preparedness and response .
Biosafety and Biosecurity
The Biosafety and Biosecurity Fellowship , formerly known as the Biorisk Management Fellowship , was launched in fall 2022 to support initiatives related to strengthening laboratory safety , biosafety and biosecurity .
Since the fellowship ’ s inception , four fellows have been placed across four state public health laboratories and one of those fellows secured a fulltime position . Projects undertaken by the fellows include assisting with the implementation of the International Organization for Standardization ( ISO ) 35001:2019 standard , conducting risk assessments and gap analysis of diagnostic testing activities , performing root-cause analysis and mitigation of accidents , collaborating with biosafety officers on annual safety trainings , and creating an instructional video on donning and doffing air purifying respirators for new public health laboratory employees .
APHL remains committed to expanding the biosafety and biosecurity laboratory workforce by promoting this fellowship opportunity at universities and national conferences , and encouraging additional public health , clinical and academic laboratories to become mentors for future fellows .
Emergency Preparedness and Response
At the start of 2024 , APHL added Emergency Preparedness and Response as a new area of focus to the Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program to grow and prepare the next generation of scientists for careers involving emergency management and public health laboratories , and support initiatives that aim to strengthen laboratory preparedness and response for all-hazard threats .
The new fellowship is an opportunity to not only bolster the public health laboratory workforce , but fellows also undertake a project proposed by their host laboratory , which can help resource laboratory preparedness initiatives , such as making testing more accessible in rural and underserved areas during large scale outbreaks . Recent public health emergencies , like COVID-19 and mpox , demonstrated the impact that the availability of testing has on the public ’ s health , and laboratory preparedness initiatives — like mobile testing — that strengthen how public health responds is invaluable to underrepresented communities , especially during emergencies .
The APHL-CDC Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program focus areas of biosafety and biosecurity and emergency preparedness and response strive to provide fellows with real-world and experiential learning opportunities and to help recruit , train , educate and retain the public health laboratory workforce . Applications are currently being accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis . We encourage qualified individuals and eligible laboratories that are enthusiastic about enhancing laboratory preparedness in biosafety and biosecurity and emergency preparedness and response to apply now .
For more information on how to apply to become a fellow or mentor , please visit the APHL-CDC Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program website . g
APHL . org
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