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BU health oversight draws ire from city

Thomas Caywood, Boston Herald, March 29, 2005

Hub public health officials yesterday rapped Boston University for failing to take the seemingly obvious step of monitoring the health of researchers working with potentially deadly diseases.

The Boston Public Health Commission called BU's failure to identify work-related illness in lab staff and its failure to immediately report suspicious illnesses to health officials “a major concern” in a 14-page report.

Three Boston University Medical Center researchers got sick late last year with potentially deadly tularemia, or rabbit fever. All three later recovered, and the public was never exposed, the report said.

City tells BU to bolster safety of its medical labs

New report details tularemia exposure
Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, March 29, 2005

In a scathing report examining the exposure of three Boston University researchers to tularemia last year, Boston public health authorities yesterday called on BU to strengthen internal oversight of safety in medical school laboratories.

The study by the Boston Public Health Commission is sharply critical of safety lapses in the lab where the scientists contracted potentially lethal tularemia while developing a vaccine against the bacterial disease, commonly known as rabbit fever.

A hazardous-biolab primer

Deirdre Fulton, Boston Phoenix, April 1, 2005

At a hearing that blasted the safety record of Boston University’s medical labs earlier this week, one question dwarfed all the others: if the Boston University Medical Center (BUMC) can’t safely run the lower-level lab that was the site of a tularemia outbreak last year, how can the center be expected to manage a proposed BioSafety Level 4 lab, where scientists would handle much more dangerous organisms?

Activists who were already worried about proposed construction of the lab in Roxbury came away from the hearing unassuaged, since that question remained unanswered after more than four hours of testimony in Boston City Council’s Ianella Chamber on Monday.

Unpublished response to Boston Globe coverage of health disparities hearing

Boston Globe
Dorchester, Massachusetts

April 8, 2005

Thomas Aquinas once wrote that you must will the means to an end if you really will that end. Otherwise you’re just fooling, fooling either yourself or others. The Boston Globe’s coverage of Tuesday’s State House hearings on healthcare disparities (Improved healthcare sought for minorities, April 6, 2005) missed two important contributions testifiers made to the campaign to achieve equal access to quality health care, while today’s lead editorial (Vital statistics, April 8, 2005) highlighted two competing costly dead-ends.

Improved healthcare sought for minorities

Janette Neuwahl, Boston Globe, April 6, 2005

Doctors told state lawmakers yesterday that hospitals and clinics must hire more black and Hispanic doctors and nurses and do a better job of educating minority communities about the diseases that disproportionately affect them.

The doctors, representing hospitals across the state, were on Beacon Hill to talk about inadequate medical care for some minorities. A state-appointed commission is exploring ways to eliminate ethnic and racial disparities in healthcare.

MNA: Commission on Health Disparities, April 5, 2005

Good morning. My name is Mary Crotty. I am a Registered Nurse, attorney, and Associate Director of Nursing for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, or “MNA.” The MNA represents the interests of nearly 24,000 nurses in the Commonwealth, as well as the patients and members of the public for whom our nurses care.

We thank the Commission for investigating the gaps in both care and outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities.

My testimony today reflects MNA’s position on a major issue that directly affects access to healthy lives by minorities. It is a crucial access issue that has not been addressed by the Access Subcommittee. If anything it has been the elephant in the room these past weeks.

Biodefense: Global Dimension - New Manhattan Project

Global Dimension (Dr. Strangelove versus International

Call for New 'Manhattan Project' to Fight

Ben Hirschler, Reuters, January 27, 2005

Davos, Switzerland - The world needs an effort similar to that
behind the creation of the atomic bomb to tackle the multi-faceted threat of
biowarfare, US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Thursday. "We need to do
something that even dwarfs the Manhattan project," Frist told the World Economic
Forum in Davos. The Manhattan project was the codename for the United States's
World War II effort to devise an atomic weapon. "The greatest existential threat
we have in the world today is biological. Why? Because unlike any other threat
it has the power of panic and paralysis to be global." He predicted that the
world would experience another bioweapon attack within the next decade,
following the limited casualties seen when anthrax was sent through the US mail
system in 2001. ...

Biodefense: National Dimension - Homeland Insecurity

National Dimension:

Achieving National Preparedness

A Regional Policy Workshop on Bioterrorism

National Governors Association, May 15, 2004

The NGA Center for Best Practices, in conjunction with the
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), recently convened state
bioterrorism response officials from the Western United States to discuss policy
issues concerning information-sharing, legal considerations, state strategic
planning, state-federal relations and exercises and training. The two-day
workshop is the final installment of a series of regional meetings that provided
support for state officials working to establish and bolster bioterrorism
preparedness strategies and plans. Additionally, the workshops helped inform the
CDC and NGA of any technical assistance requirements states may have. ...

Alabama, California, DC/Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, Texas, Utah, Washington


UAB selects site of newest lab

Birmingham Business Journal, February 4, 2005

UAB today announced plans to extend its research corridor along
19th Street South with construction of the Southeast Biosafety Laboratory
Alabama Birmingham. The university will demolish two buildings at the 9th Avenue
and 19th Street site to make way for the lab. Construction of the nearly 35,000
square-foot, $22.3 million facility is scheduled to begin at the end of this
year, with completion anticipated in late 2007. UAB received almost $16 million
from the National Institutes of Health in September 2003 to construct the
research facility. In addition, the State of Alabama has committed $5 million to
the construction and UAB is providing nearly $1.4 million. The lab will help
develop the next generation of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests for emerging
infections such as SARS and West Nile. The facility also will house research
that will defend against organisms such as pox viruses that might be used in
bioterrorists attacks. Scientific experts decided after the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks that the nation needed additional laboratory facilities research these
diseases and biological agents. Subsequent anthrax cases and spread of diseases
such as West Nile virus and SARS also prompted their decision. UAB received one
of the initial 11 grants after the NIH asked for proposals on such labs.

Massachusetts Background: BU Triumphant & Shamed

Massachusetts Background:

Information About the Proposed South End Biodefense

Adam Smith, Sampan, April 12, 2004

Boston University Medical Center plans to build a high-level
biodefense research laboratory in the South End. Only about four such labs (also
called BSL 4 labs) are in operation in the country. The laboratories are
controversial because they house research of highly infectious, hazardous and
exotic pathogens, such as Ebola. Sampan has written many stories about the
laboratory, which will be housed in the nearly 15-acre BioSquare research
complex, whose program manager is Robert Walsh, a former Boston Redevelopment
Authority director. BioSquare was first proposed in the early 1990s but only
parts of it have been completed. The original plan included bioresearch
facilities as well as a hotel and parking garages. The new project - the result
of federal grant money to create the biodefense laboratory - includes no hotel,
a cutback in laboratory space and the top-level biodefense laboratory.

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