Monday, October 10, 2016

Instructor Spotlight: Paul Jennette, MS, PE, CBSP

The Eagleson Institute staff recently interviewed Paul Jennette and we are proud to feature him in our "Instructor Spotlight". Paul is the Director of Biocontainment Operations at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, NY. He is very well known in the biosafety industry and has been involved with Eagleson Institute programs for over 15 years.

  How did you begin teaching at the Eagleson Institute?

About 15 years ago, I gave a presentation on biological waste management at the CDC Biosafety Symposium (which is managed by the Eagleson Institute) and attended the BSL3 Seminar Series. During the BSL3 seminars, I asked LOTS of questions, which made quite an impression on the seminar’s instructors. Soon afterward, Mary Ann invited me to start as an instructor in the BSL3 Design, Construction and Beyond class. Since then, I have also become a regular instructor for the Advanced BSL3 Work Practices and Procedures class, Verifying BSL3 Preformance: From Commissioning to Certification seminar, and most recently, the Institute's new custom training for Clinical Work Practices and Procedures.

It seems that in every class you teach, you start with risk assessment. Why is that?

Risk assessment is fundamental to everything we do at BSL3 facilities in the US, where we don’t have many prescriptive codes or regulations to define what to do in the BSL3 environment. On top of that, there are many things about BSL3 that are commonly thought of as being "required" or "standard" when they really are more like "tradition" or "conventional wisdom." Examples of this include expecting a certain pressure differential at a BSL3 doorway (without understanding the airflow characteristics at the doorway) and taking extreme measures to prevent any pressure reversals at BSL3 doorways. Using basic risk assessment principles allows us to not only understand the actual risks involved with BSL3s but to efficiently allocate resources like money, space, and time to address those risks.

How many commissionings or verifications of BSL3 performance have you been personally involved with?

I have personally participated in the commissioning of all five of Cornell’s BSL3 and ABSL3 facilities. Since the first one came online in 2000, I have conducted more than three dozen annual BSL3 performance verifications.

You have experienced "lessons learned" yourself and heard about many more from colleagues and from students in your classes. Based on those, what's the most common mistake that people make when building or commissioning a new facility?

The biggest "mistake" I’ve seen is falling into the trap of assuming that, just because somebody else uses a certain design or performance test criterion at another facility (beware "we’ve always done it that way"), that same criterion should be applied to your own facility without performing a risk assessment to determine what the criterion should be based on the site-specific nature of each BSL3. This happens unfortunately when people assume they are not qualified to do (or at least manage) performance verifications for their own BSL3 and they hire someone to "certify" their facility – if the consultant simply uses the same criteria without adapting them based on the site-specific risk assessment for the facility, the resulting performance verification work can be very inaccurate.

Paul, Mary Ann, and Natasha in Montana for the
Clinical Work Practices and Procedures Class
What is the best thing about teaching the "Verifying BSL3 Performance" class (aside from the Maine coast and lobster dinners)?

I especially enjoy when class participants appear to internalize the essence of what we are teaching (sometimes it’s as if a light bulb turns on above their head!) in the class – that, by understanding the holistic relationship of risk assessment, biosafety, and engineering concepts we discuss, the class participants will be able to effectively manage performance verifications for their BSL3 facilities whether they do the work themselves or hire a consultant for the work. I also enjoy the hands-on demonstrations we do – they really reinforce some of the core concepts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

BSC Donation to Haiti

Article by: Dr. Mohammed Rashid, Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida


Less than 700 miles from the beaches of Miami, Haiti is a world away from the economic and medical advantages enjoyed in the U.S.  Life expectancy is the lowest in the hemisphere; 22% of children are malnourished, and the under-five mortality rate is 73 per 1,000 live births, worst in the hemisphere and 10 times that in the United States.  Five years after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January, 2010, major components of the country’s infrastructure (including much of the public health infrastructure) are still in need of repair.  Infectious diseases more common to sub-Sahara Africa than the Caribbean remain endemic.  The faculty and students of the University of Florida (UF) have a long-standing relationship with the people of Haiti, and are committed to working with the Haitian government and people to improve public health, develop sustainable programs, and build a better tomorrow for the nation.

Public Health Research Laboratories

The UF College of Public Health and Health Professions (PHHP) and the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute (UF/EPI) made the decision in 2010 to develop an infectious diseases laboratory capacity in Haiti to help guide public health interventions and train Haitian investigators and laboratory technicians.  Research laboratories were built in collaboration with the local “Chistianville” NGO, together with other government and private partners.  The laboratories provide diagnostic services for clinics in the region, and serve as the home for research projects that provide data necessary for design and implementation of national public health programs.  

Research Areas
  • Cholera
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrheal diseases
  • Sexually-transmitted infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Malaria
  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • Childhood nutrition

Research Facility

UF/EPI operates biosafety level 2 (BSL2) and biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratories located on the Christianville campus in Gressier, Haiti.  Gressier is located about 30 kilometers west of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.  Adjacent to the laboratories is a student dormitory, built in collaboration with PHHP.

BSL 3 TB Lab and Eagleson Institute

Tuberculosis (TB) is an important cause of illness and death for the people of Haiti and the health care system there is poorly equipped to diagnose and treat TB.  A functional BSL-3 laboratory was badly needed in Haiti for our scientists to safely diagnose TB, determine patterns of drug-resistance, and for training Haitians in these techniques.  We were working in Haiti in response to the cholera epidemic so we had all necessary expertise in Haiti and were frustrated that lack of funding prevented us from helping with the TB.  A major breakthrough came when the Board Chairman of Eagleson Institute, Dennis Eagleson, generously decided to donate 2 biosafety cabinets for our BSL-3 laboratory; he even gave us the most energy efficient cabinets which is critical for Haiti as our power is primarily provide by a generator and back up batteries.  This donation was critical as it helped us approach several other companies for donations of additional equipment and time from experts to build the BSL-3 lab which has since been commissioned and inspected and meets all US safety standards.  We will always be grateful to the Eagleson Institute for their important part of our mission and success in Haiti.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

13th CDC International Symposium on Biosafety

Hopefully everyone made it home (or to their next destination) safely!  We really enjoyed ourselves at the 13th CDC International Symposium on Biosafety, and hope that all of those involved did as well.

This year we had quite a bit of excitement related to "Snowmageddon," but all involved with the symposium worked together and still managed to have a great experience.  We would like to once again thank all those who stepped up to the plate to help in this time of crisis, whether you helped out by giving up a spare bed to a colleague, or gave a presentation on behalf of a speaker who couldn't make it in. This was truly an event to remember! 

We appreciate the relationships we are able to continue to have with our colleagues at the Biosafety Symposium, who always have shown the generosity and kindness people have in the biosafety field.

In the coming weeks you should expect to hear from us regarding symposium presentations being posted on our website.  In the meantime, please post any pictures, comments and feedback on your favorite social media sites... don't forget to use the hashtag #BIOSAFETY 2014

We will get things started with a couple of our favorites here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

BSL3 Seminar Series Returns to Raleigh

April 28 - May 2, 2014 | North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health | Raleigh, NC Join us at our 14th Annual BSL3 Seminar Series, for one or both of our courses.

New addition this year is a lecture and tour of Duke University’s RBL and Lemur Center.

APRIL 28-29, 2014
BSL3 Facilities: Design, Construction and Beyond

Our teaching team of an architect, engineer and biosafety engineer provide practical, “been-there, done-that” information, incorporating real-world  experience as well as theoretical knowledge.

What people have said...

“Great two day class, lots of good info but real life examples were best.”

“Very informative [you] provide basic knowledge along with good background information that will allow me to make a positive impact on my facility.”

APRIL 30 - MAY 1, 2014
Advanced BSL3 Work Practices and Procedures

This advanced-level class utilizes scenarios and hands-on workshops to reinforce concepts contained in the senior level of CDC’s recent “Biosafety Laboratory Competency Guidelines.”

What people have said...

“Excellent 2 days of training. I learned so much from instructors and from the other participants. Was very surprised by the variety of experiences and occupations that were represented in participants...this was a strength of the program.”

“Overall one of the best BSL3 [classes] I have attended. Informative and I enjoyed the interactive exercises/discussions... all of presenters were very engaging & enthusiastic.”

Along with our two core programs, there are many exciting networking and learning experiences to highlight this year, including a lecture and tour of Duke University’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and Lemur Center on May 2, 2014.

To learn more about this program and all it has to offer, download the brochure or visit our website:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

International Training Recap 2013

For the first time, our international guests from warm climates got the chance to experience snow at the Eagleson Institute.  The snow was very dry and powdery, but Institute staff were determined to teach our guests how to build a snowman.  With over 20 gallons of water, and a lot of work, we were able to construct a snowman with the dry snow.  Everyone loved decorating the snowman and playing in the snow.  One question we remember hearing frequently was "Is it ok to touch it [the snow] with my bare hands?"  As soon as they realized it wouldn't hurt them, the snowballs started flying!

Due to the weather in Maine, we were able to show our guests some other snow related activities, including sledding and making snow angels.  Needless to say, throwing snowballs at each other was everyone's favorite!

Spring and Summer came and went by and in November, the Eagleson Institute welcomed a new group of guests from African and Asian countries.  The group started their journey in the Institute's "Safety Cabinet Technology" program where they learned about the different types of laboratory ventilation equipment, and focused on the Class II Biological Safety Cabinet (the most common type of BSC).  The group also attended our "Introduction to Certification" workshop and "HVAC Systems and Laboratory Design" class before taking part in a week-long hands-on mentoring training workshop where they learned how to certify BSC's to NSF 49.

Though there was no snow for them to experience, they will be returning in March 2014 for two more weeks of training and hopefully will get to play in the snow too!

Celebrating 25 Years

Eagleson Institute was founded on April 1, 1989. Throughout the past 25 years, the Institute has demonstrated a passion for promoting health and safety. In this anniversary issue of our newsletter, we’d like to express our gratitude to all the individuals and organizations who have shared our passion and partnered with us to make laboratories, and those who work in and near them, safer. Thank you for helping to make the past 25 years a success!

It all began when John and Dennis Eagleson founded the Eagleson Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, in memory of their father, John M. (Jack) Eagleson, Jr., a pioneer in the development and testing of ventilation equipment.  Jack was a strong proponent of laboratory safety who believed in sharing information and teaching others.  Through formal training and informal discussions, Jack challenged the minds of his employees, customers, colleagues and others throughout the laboratory ventilation industry.

Therefore it was fitting to honor his memory with a nonprofit foundation with a mission to promote the principles and practices of laboratory safety. Eagleson Institute’s first class, on biosafety cabinets (now called "Safety Cabinet Technology"), was held May 23, 1989 with 17 participants. Since that small beginning, the Institute has grown into an organization whose influence is felt around the world. During the past 25 years, over 20,000 attendees, from 107 countries have attended one of the many classes at the Eagleson Institute.  This global influence and reputation has prompted our revised mission, which is "Globally promoting the principles and practices of health and safety in the life sciences community."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Instructor Spotlight: Dave Stuart, PhD

David Stuart, PhD, known around the world as "Doc," has been one of Eagleson Institute's instructors since its inception. In fact, he began conducting training on Class II biosafety cabinets even before the Institute was founded. We are pleased to profile Doc in this anniversary newsletter.

Growing up on a farm in Maine, working side by side with his father and grandfather, young David Stuart learned to work hard and solve problems as they arose.

When the Maine farm boy went off to Gordon College in Beverly, Massachusetts, a course in microbiology stimulated his interest in the very small. (His fascination with small things remains, as is evident to those who have heard him explain how particles are captured in a HEPA filter!)

After nine years of working his way through college doing various jobs from working on the family farm to operating elevators at Filenes’ Department Store, Dave graduated from Gordon with degrees in Bible Studies and General Biology, and nearly another in Psychology. While at Gordon, Dave also fulfilled the requirements for certification as a school teacher, and has been teaching, in one form or another, ever since.

After graduating, Dave taught at the University of New Hampshire while obtaining a Ph.D. in Microbiology. He then moved out west, to Montana State University, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in microbiology for 11 years.

Doc says that his friends thought he was “out of his mind” to leave a tenured full professorship and move across country (back to Maine) to change careers and work for what was then a small company (The Baker Company) as their microbiologist.  Dave says he didn’t change careers, just where he pursued his career.  He believes that the Baker Company was doing a lot of good for mankind and wanted to be a part of it.  Another benefit of this job change was coming back to his home state of Maine.

Almost immediately after Dave joined Baker, the company received a contract to build a general purpose work station for NASA’s Space Lab. As project officer, he worked in the lab as well as collaborated with the engineering team, which set the pattern for the rest of his quarter-century at Baker. Dave also was asked to revise and teach a course on Class II BSCs, something he has done ever since. In addition, he was asked to be the company representative to the NSF International’s Joint Committee, which was working on revisions to Standard 49. Dave continued to serve on the committee for many years, influencing the content of the Standard and helping craft the certifier accreditation program.

Within several years Dave was put in charge of the Baker test department and made quality control manager. In this role, he was able to bring together his research and analysis skills and his real passion for ensuring the safety of those working in and around laboratories. During his career at Baker, he conducted significant research on the design, testing and performance of primary containment equipment. His research on the vapor handling characteristics of BSCs has been the basis for NSF cabinet classification. Dave was the first to use VHP to decontaminate biosafety cabinets, and helped develop that technology.

Dave has been a pioneer in and advocate for biosafety, working with and serving on advisory boards, working groups and committees of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, the American Biosafety Association, and NSF International, as well as authoring over 50 publications, including contributions to many of the biosafety field’s foundational publications, such as the ASM “laboratory safety manual” and to the CDC/NIH “green book”.

The American Biological Safety Association presented the Arnold G. Wedum Distinguished Achievement Award to David Stuart in recognition of his contributions to biological safety through service and leadership. Also, in 2012, he received Controlled Environment Testing Association’s (CETA) most prestigious award, the Melvin First Award.

Both before and after his retirement from The Baker Company, Doc has communicated his passion for biosafety to countless others by teaching for the Eagleson Institute. As a former Accredited Biosafety Cabinet Field Certifier, Doc loves to do hands-on demonstrations and provide hands-on learning opportunities for his students. Over the years, Doc has taught approximately over 200 classes reaching an estimated 6,000 students for the Eagleson Institute.

As this newsletter is published, Dave is enjoying the warm weather in Florida with his family and friends. However, when the snow melts in Maine and spring classes resume at the Institute, Doc will be back in the classroom, sharing a lifetime of knowledge and his passion for biosafety with students.