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Community Reps Needed for Biotech Safety Committees

Biosafety Training to be held May 10 & May 16

April 27, 2017


View agenda for the Cambridge Biosafety Forum

Register for the Cambridge Biosafety Forum

The Cambridge Public Health Department is seeking volunteers to serve as community representatives on institutional biosafety committees. Most committees meet once a year.

A two-day training for interested residents and other stakeholders will be held on Wednesday, May 10 and Tuesday, May 16 from 5 p.m.−8 p.m. in the Macht Auditorium, located in a free-standing brick building on the CHA Cambridge Hospital campus, 1493 Cambridge St.

The Cambridge Biosafety Forum will cover basic molecular biology, emerging gene-editing technologies, biological risk assessment, and the role of the community representative on an IBC. Attendees will also observe a mock IBC meeting.

Cambridge residents interested in serving as community representatives can attend the training at no charge.

"With the increasing number of biotechs in Cambridge, it is especially important for residents to participate in the oversight process and represent community biosafety interests,” said Sam Lipson, the department’s director of environmental health. Lipson noted that Cambridge is home to over 130 biotechs.

Cambridge is the first community in the world to establish direct citizen oversight of biological research, and continues to set the standard for strict public oversight of this sector.

Since 1981, firms and academic institutions engaged in certain biological research and manufacturing in Cambridge have been required by local law to have an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) that provides local review and oversight of research involving recombinant DNA. In 2009, this authority was extended to include higher risk non-recombinant infectious disease research. For more information about biosafety oversight in Cambridge, see www.cambridgebiosafety.org.

Biosafety committees must include two community members, one of whom must be a Cambridge resident. Individuals who work in the biotechnology industry can serve as an IBC community representative for a firm or institution that holds a Cambridge biosafety permit, provided that they do not have financial ties to the biotech. 

To register for the training or learn more, go to http://bit.ly/biosafety-forum.

If you have additional questions, please contact Sam Lipson at slipson@challiance.org.


Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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