The United States faces serious public health threats from potential bioterrorism attacks and naturally emerging infectious diseases. Due to the federal government's recent interest in biodefense research, there has been an increasing focus on developing strategies to prevent, treat and diagnose such infections. A significant portion of this research requires the use of BSLs, BSLs-enhanced, and ABSLs facilities. As the number of BSLs labs increases nationally and world-wide each year, the need to train qualified researchers, BSOs, operations/support trades personnel and first responders increases exponentially. A typical BSLs lab in an academic setting may have 5-10 researchers or technicians, i or 2 BSOs, and 5-25 facilities/trades personnel responsible for operations and maintenance. Additionally, several hundred people may become involved in responding to an emergency situation at these high-containment labs, including police, fire, paramedic, and hazmat personnel. This diverse array of individuals must interact effectively to ensure a highly coordinated approach inside and outside the facility. Without an integrated effort, research may be conducted in a less than optimally safe setting and thus compromised. Further, public confidence in the safety of high-containment labs would be greatly enhanced by an awareness of adequate, specialized training at every level. Nevertheless, a national standard thus far has not been set for training any of these target groups. Currently, the U.S. has three advanced training programs for researchers or BSOs. Some use a mock lab facility, enabling the researchers to train in an environment where equipment and facility closely match conditions inside BSLs laboratories. This simulated environment provides behavioral-based training that has demonstrated more effective results than the traditional classroom learning process (Kaufman &Berkelman, Applied Biosafety, Vol 12, No. 3, 2007). Training for Operations and Support personnel is also available through classroom-based courses at various sites in the U.S. One such program is available through the Frontline Foundation in conjunction with the National Biosafety Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). The course mixes core and elective classes and provides an optional certificate for students who complete a 4O-hour practicum exercise (individually arranged at the student's own facility). No other training program in the U.S. offers students hands-on training using real equipment typically found outside the high-containment lab, although the Canadian government has a program that uses real lab facilities temporarily shut down once each year for training. There is clearly an urgent need to develop both training facilities and programs for the three target groups using lab simulation and equipment. A mock lab facility equipped inside and outside is the safest and most practical alternative to real operational facilities. Our proposed training facility and courses will prepare all three target groups to perform their jobs safely at any BSLs facility in the country.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-DDS-M)
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University of California Irvine
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