National Biocontainment Training Center

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is biosafety training?
This type of laboratory training is typically a combination of classroom and hands-on training and followed by an intensive in-lab mentoring program that serves to orient scientists to working with agents in biocontainment laboratories. The term “biocontainment” refers to the level of physical controls and safety practices required for research work, based upon the organism under study. Federal guidelines provide direction regarding the biocontainment classification for pathogenic microorganisms.
Why is the establishment of a national training center important?
With expanded construction in biocontainment research facilities over the past decade in the U.S. and world wide, there is a need, as never before, to increase the number of highly trained researchers and support staff required to work in these high-tech facilities – as recently highlighted in a AAAS Workshop report. The NBTC will meet that critical need by systematically training individuals for work in high containment research environments. The amplified emphasis on security and complex mechanical systems in and surrounding the operation of BSL3 and BSL4 facilities has increased the intricacy of containment laboratory operations, creating additional training necessities for safety, facility/engineering, and scientific staff – each of which the NBTC is equipped to meet.
Who receives instruction at UTMB’s NBTC?
To date, UTMB’s biosafety experts, research scientists and biocontainment engineers have successfully trained approximately 1600 individuals to work in national and international BSL2, BSL3 and BSL4 labs. The resources of the NBTC build upon this impressive record. Proven and successful training programs for students, researchers, safety officers and biocontainment engineering staff working within high containment environments will see their curricula further expanded. Unique in the NBTC’s training program is a fellowship program for the mentorship of biocontainment engineers. This program is designed to equip the next generation of facility engineers with the specialized skills needed for the growing network of BSL3 and BSL4 laboratories under construction around the world.

The NBTC offers the following fellowship programs:

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