Symposia Program | May 13-15

Professional Development Courses

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

1. Tactical Implementation of Biosecurity Principles: An Advanced, Scenario-Driven Course on Risk and Threat Management Programs

Ryan N. Burnette, PhD, Merrick and Company, Washington, DC
Lauren Richardson, DVM, DACVPM, Merrick and Company, Washington, DC Chuck Tobin, CTM, At-Risk International, LLC, Boca Raton, FL
Stephen Goldsmith, DVM, US Federal Bureau of Investigation, WMD Directorate, Washington, DC

A distinguishing factor between security and biosecurity programs is the fact that biosecurity programs are focused on assets that are biological in nature. This brings forth unique distinctions in implementing risk- and threat-based approaches to prevent the release, loss, or theft of these assets. This advanced workshop will challenge participants to fully analyze a single biosecurity driven scenario through a series of risk and threat management decision-making tools. Participants will learn the principles of biosecurity, which set it apart from traditional security, by applying tactical methodology to analyze a real-world biosecurity case study. The outcomes of this intensive course will be the identification of biosecurity-specific risk and threats, their corresponding prioritization against a mitigation plan, approaches for blending these inputs for comprehensive biorisk management, and finally, an integrated biosecurity plan. Participants will leave the course with tools that will be applicable to their host institutions for future engagements in building effective integrated biosecurity plans against scenarios.


  • Summarize the stakeholder roles in biosecurity planning and assessment as part of a comprehensive biorisk management program
  • Recognize, assess, and develop mitigations for risks, threats, and vulnerabilities to protect biological materials and other laboratory assets from unauthorized access, loss, theft, misuse, diversion, or intentional release
  • Develop strategies for prioritization and communication of needs associated with implementing an integrated biosecurity plan

Suggested Background: Moderate background knowledge in biosafety, cybersecurity, risk management, and security

Target Audience: Seasoned biosafety professionals, risk management professionals, biosecurity practitioners, or others with comparable experience

Audience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Ryan N. Burnette, PhD, Merrick and Company, Washington, DC

Ryan N. Burnette, PhD, Merrick and Company, Washington, DC

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

2. Biosecurity for Agricultural Facilities

Nick Chaplinski, MS, RBP(ABSA), USDA Agricultural Research Service, Athens, GA
Julie Johnson, PhD, CBSP(ABSA), Kansas State University—Biosecurity Research Institute, Manhattan, KS Brandy Nelson, MS, CBSP(ABSA), SM(NRCM), University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Susan Harper, DVM, DACLAM, DACVPM, RBP(ABSA), USDA Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD

This course will define biosecurity in the context of agriculture. Concepts of general biosafety, biocontainment, biosecurity, veterinary, and occupational health principles as they apply to agricultural research facilities, labs and farms, and veterinary diagnostic labs will be discussed. Key considerations relevant to the design and performance of research activities involving agricultural species, pathogens, facilities, practices, and/or equipment will be explored in detail. Concepts related to the physical security of farms, humans as vectors of disease, mechanical systems, personnel workflows and movement, and waste handling and movement will be described as they relate to a comprehensive facility biosecurity program. nteractive exercises will allow course participants the opportunity to design “biosecure” facilities and work through the challenges of ensuring biosafety and biosecurity in the unique environment of agricultural research. Course learning activities will provide opportunities for discussion and exchange of ideas that reinforce the practical application of knowledge, information, and concepts covered through formal presentations, and give participants actual experience in contributing to the development of environmentally safe and sound research practices and containment procedures.


  • Define the concept of biosecurity in the context of agriculture
  • Restate the challenges and hazards specific to research involving agricultural species, pathogens, facilities, practices, and/or equipment
  • Design “biosecure” facilities for agricultural research and diagnostic lab facilities and farms

Suggested Background: Basic understanding of principles and practices of biological safety; ability to perform general risk assessments for research and/or diagnostic labs; and familiarity with the concept of biosecurity as defined by ABSA International at

Target Audience: Biosafety and Biosecurity Professionals, Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, Animal Care Professionals, Research Facility Design Professionals, Veterinarian Diagnostic Lab Professionals, Agricultural Reseachers

Audience Level: Advanced

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

3. Biosecurity for Uncertain Situations: Challenges and Solutions

Faculty from Sandia National Laboratories Global Chemical & Biological Security Group, Albuquerque, NM

How do you assess and effectively secure biological materials when you do not know what agents you might be encountering? ow much biosecurity is enough when your resources are limited, or your setting is challenging? This course will use case studies and guided exercises to assess security risks and describe challenges, lessons-learned, and opportunities for protecting biological materials, especially in situations where information, resources, and support are scarce. Using the best practices shared, participants will develop new strategies to improve biosecurity in certain and uncertain settings with the goal of directly applying the knowledge gained in their professional settings. This course is intended for participants from all sectors where security of biological materials is critical, and all roles involved in assuring this security are encouraged to attend. This course is intentionally designed to be “borderless” to encourage participation of stakeholders across the world. nstructors will rely on universal and global principles of biosecurity to facilitate discussion, rather than on compliance with country-specific legal frameworks.


  • Adapt biosecurity risk assessment processes to uncertain situations
  • Define challenges with implementing and integrating strategies to reduce the risk of theft, diversion, loss or intentional misuse of biological materials from laboratories or laboratory-related activities
  • Identify options for managing biosecurity risks in uncertain or challenging settings

Suggested Background: None

Target Audience: Biosafety Professionals, Risk Management Professionals, Biosecurity Practitioners, or others with comparable experience; applicable for participants from all sectors where security of biological materials is critical and all roles involved in assuring this security

Audience Level: Intermediate

8:00 am – 12:00 pm<

4. Building Operationally Sustainable Biosecurity Programs

Erin Sorrell, PhD, Elizabeth R Griffin Program, Center for Global Health Science and Security, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Biosecurity programs are a critical component to any facility that houses pathogens or toxins that when lost, stolen, or accidentally released could result in damage to the laboratory, its workers, and/or the outside community. This course will focus on mapping core institutional needs to develop or strengthen biosecurity programs in the context of existing national policies, regulations, or legislation. Participants will work together to determine, assess, and select key indicators under the five pillars of biosecurity in order to develop a measurable program framework that can be adapted and applied to various institutions. Participants will gain experience in creating roadmaps for successful programs that can be measured over time building towards functional and operational biosecurity programs. Participants will have an opportunity to test their indicators and framework against hypothetical programs in small group settings building knowledge, expertise, and networks with other biosecurity professionals.


  • Describe, discuss, and explain the basic structure of an operational framework
  • Develop a biosecurity program framework
  • Apply the biosecurity program framework to existing programs to determine key indicators of success, areas for improvement and design a course of action towards fully operational and sustainable biosecurity programs

Suggested Background: None

Target Audience: Biosafety Professionals, Risk Management Professionals, Biosecurity Practitioners

Audience Level: Intermediate

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

5. Biosecurity in an Evolving Scientific Landscape: Law Enforcement Perspectives on Risk Assessment and Mitigation Practices

William So, PhD, US Federal Bureau of Investigation, WMD Directorate, Washington, DC

The United States’ 2018 National Biodefense Strategy’s Objective 2.4 states national efforts are needed to, “Strengthen biosafety and biosecurity practices and oversight to mitigate risks of bioincidents.” There are continuing efforts to implement biological security mechanisms at all levels to support the protection of material, technologies, information, and expertise from illicit acquisition and misuse. However, the traditional paradigm focuses protection and mitigation on specific pathogens-of-concern and types of research. Additionally, national counterproliferation mechanisms against misuse are challenged by decreasing costs of advanced technologies, widely available information and tools, and enabling technologies that lower expertise requirements. These factors present increasing risks to national security and potentially hindering scientific progress because of overreaction by national governments. Biosecurity must start at the institutional level where increased understanding and innovations begin, multidisciplinary approaches to scientific research occur, and drivers toward entrepreneurships take place. There are innumerable benefits from these applications, from health resilience to economic growth. owever, there is insufficient understanding of the types of threats and available tools and resources for risk assessments that evolve with the pace of scientific progress. This course will be in two parts: part is a presentation on the scope of biosecurity threats from the national and global perspectives and part is interactive, an exploration of feasible and implementable tools to assess risks and mitigation practices capable of evolving with science.


  • Restate how biosecurity at the institutional level fits into the national and international strategic oversight framework
  • Identify key factors such as innovation, multidisciplinary approaches to scientific research, and drivers toward entrepreneurships as points of potential biosecurity concerns
  • Explore the feasibility of implementing risk assessment and mitigation tools capable of evolving with the rapidly advancing scientific landscape

Suggested Background: Moderate background knowledge in biosafety, cybersecurity, and risk management

Target Audience: All levels of biosecurity and security practitioners, Biosafety Professionals, Others with comparable experience

Audience Level: Intermediate