Community Liaison Committee(CLC)

Welcome to the homepage for the Galveston National Laboratory’s Community Liaison Committee.

The participation of the local Galveston community is important to the success of the GNL and the Community Liaison Committee – or CLC – is integral to that participation. 

The nine members of the CLC are a part of the advisory structure for the GNL.  As such, the CLC exists to promote public participation and transparency during construction and operation of the lab and to advise all GNL and university leadership on issues of importance to the community.  The CLC is composed of well-informed and interested local citizens nominated by the Galveston County judge and appointed to rotating terms by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System, and reports to the President of UTMB.

CLC members provide outreach and feedback to facilitate information flow between the GNL and the community. The CLC members meet monthly and additionally as needed. 

History of the CLC

Since 1997, the University has been engaged in an extensive and far-reaching dialogue with a broad spectrum of the Galveston community. This dialogue has focused on the University’s desire to enhance its infectious disease research by building on its campus a 2,000 square-foot Biosafety Level 4 maximum-containment laboratory (which has been fully operational since 2004 as the Robert E. Shope Laboratory) and an 82,000 square-foot National Biocontainment Laboratory - the GNL - largely funded by the National Institutes of Health.

One outgrowth of this comprehensive effort was the creation in 2003 of a broad-based Community Advisory Board (CAB), which now numbers more than 50 members representing Galveston and UTMB community and opinion leaders.

To facilitate transparency even further, the University sought to create a smaller, independent liaison group- the CLC – that could more quickly address issues as they arise, identifying those it considers most important to share with the larger community and the public, and advising university leadership accordingly.

The CLC’s Mission and Charge

The CLC is an advisory committee of nine community members independently appointed. The CLC provides a forum in which UTMB can advise public representatives in a detailed and timely manner about issues of possible public interest related to infectious disease research, particularly issues involving work performed in its biocontainment laboratories (including the Robert E. Shope Laboratory and the planned Galveston National Laboratory). The committee, in turn, advises UTMB about those issues it considers important for the University to review, and to advise UTMB about necessary and proper communications with the broader public. The primary goal of the CLC is to enhance communication with the public.

In support of UTMB’s efforts to make its biocontainment operations as transparent to the public as possible under existing laws and regulations, the CLC was responsible for advising UTMB leadership in developing an incident communication plan. Components of this plan include: what information the committee should receive from the University, and in what time frame; how, and when, the committee would provide the University with its recommendations; and how and when the University would provide accurate and timely information to the public at large.

The Committee reports to the President of the University and will address questions or recommendations related to issues of public interest such as containment breaches to the President.  However, relative to day-to-day operations, the CLC directs advice, questions or concerns to the Director of the University’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, and the Director of the Galveston National Laboratory, or to the Institutional Biosafety Committee, for consideration and appropriate action.

The CLC also advises the status of any responsive action by the University. Should the University’s response appear insufficient in the view of the CLC, the committee may convey its concerns to the President of UTMB, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System, or the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (National Institutes of Health). If there are overriding public concerns, the committee may directly communicate with political and public health authorities or the public at large.

CLC Membership

The CLC is composed of well-informed and interested local citizens nominated by the Galveston County judge and appointed by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System, and reports to the President of UTMB. UTMB's President, the Vice President for Public Affairs and UTMB-selected representatives will also sit on the CLC as ex-officio (non-voting) members.

Current CLC members include:

Keith Bassett
Carolyn Clyburn
Jason Hardcastle
Dennis E. Miller
Betty Massey
Ann S. Masel
Vivian Pinard
Myles Shelton

CLC Meetings

The CLC meets monthly, or as needed. Unscheduled meetings are determined by the chairperson(s), or a simple majority of the voting membership. Half of the committee’s membership will comprise a quorum. Any vote will be determined by simple majority. Secretarial, administrative and communication support services to the CLC are provided by the University, at its discretion, with no cost to the committee.