Laboratory Safety


Listed below are the details of the projects funded under NOT-GM-20-016:

Title: VCU Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Program (IMSD)
Principal Investigator: Hamid Akbarali, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
Laboratory safety is an essential component of biomedical research and the training of undergraduate and graduate students. Safety training should ideally occur both prior to entry into a laboratory and continuously throughout laboratory training. Understanding the importance of a culture of safety is an essential life lesson for those who plan to make biomedical research their career. In the first aim we will develop six state-of-the-art and culturally inclusive safety videos in collaboration with our Safety and Risk Management office and Academic Media Laboratory to augment and expand current safety training including addressing the importance of a culture of safety. Training modules using video and animation will be created to provide engaging learning specifically for undergraduate and graduate students in mind. We will use best practices to create effective videos and pay particular attention to cognitive load, student engagement and active learning. We then aim to evaluate the process and outcomes of our videos with creators and students using focus group interviews and the Kirkpatrick Four-Level (reaction, learning, behavior, and results) Training Evaluation Model. The evaluation will be used to assess learning effectiveness regarding the trainees’ knowledge, skills and behavior as well as the process of creating the videos. Our last aim will be to disseminate this resource as wide as possible. It will be a valuable resource not only for our own institution but will be shared with local Historically Black Colleges and Universities partner schools and distributed nationally through the Safety Training Consortium. These laboratory safety training videos will help to train the next generation of diverse biomedical researchers.

Title: Training in Pharmacological Sciences
Principal Investigators: David E. Golan, Ph.D. and Timothy J. Mitchison, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
The TGP provides rigorous training in the science of drug discovery, evaluation, and clinical use through a required core curriculum, paracurricular activities focused on professional skills development, and a signature required internship, where students spend 2–4 months in an industrial or regulatory science setting. The Therapeutics Graduate Program (TGP) is ideally positioned to act as the cutting edge to improve safety culture at HMS. Many of our students intern in industry labs, where safety culture is significantly stronger. We need to train professors and industry group leaders of tomorrow to build safety into the culture of their future research groups. The Environmental Health and safety Department (EH&S) bears institutional responsibility for lab safety at HMS. They implement web-based initial training modules and yearly online refresher classes. The online modules cover all Federal and State mandated areas of lab safety, but they do not include rationale for safe practices, real-world examples of safety lapses and consequences, lesson-learned or literature analysis. To complement and synergize with the ongoing online training modules, we will work with EH&S, industry and academic experts to design a complementary curriculum that focuses on lessons learned and case analysis to improving safety culture, encouraging active inquiry and empowering trainees to change laboratory culture. Our goals are to: (1) survey lessons learned from academic and industry leaders, (2) develop new content based on these learnings, (3) discuss safety from pa student-centric, interdisciplinary perspective, e.g., have chemistry students explain chemical safety to virology and biology students and vice versa, and (4) empower trainees to change safety culture by discussion with PIs and industry experts in a safe and inclusive class environment. We envision internal, national and industry experts to help in the development of the content and discussion cases, in the teaching of the class and in leading the group discussions. This course will give students a different, broader perspective about the key importance of lab safety. It will give students the opportunity to have in-person discussions about lessons learned. Together, we feel this has the potential to result in changes in individual behaviors and attitudes that can influence other lab members including PIs to significantly create a positive cultural change in this space at HMS. We hope, by expanding on the traditional safety training that students receive from EH&S, and by integrating different perspectives from biopharma, that this deeper dive, with real case-based, in-person discussions with industry and academic experts in the field, will result in safer lab practices and positive changes in the attitudes and behaviors of students around safety.

Title: Enhancing Lab Safety Curriculum and Culture
Principal Investigator: Michael S. Kay, Ph.D., University of Utah
Chemical Biology is an interdisciplinary science that requires cross-training in both chemistry and biology. This Training Grant application (PITCH – Program for Interdisciplinary Training in CHemical Biology) requests support for an interdepartmental Chemical Biology Training Program at the University of Utah. This Program seeks to extend the benefits of the highly successful Biological Chemistry Program, an interdisciplinary 1st-year graduate program that trains students to pursue research on the chemistry/biology interface, to the entire PhD period. The Program consists of individualized research training under the guidance of 37 faculty members from the College of Science, College of Pharmacy, and School of Medicine, which are in close proximity. PITCH will supplement the training program in each student's home department (from which they receive their PhD) and provide a co-mentor that complements the expertise of the primary mentor. The Steering Committee selects Trainees, monitors their progress, and organizes PITCH activities. The PITCH mentors provide a diverse interdisciplinary training environment in Chemical Biology. Prospective predoctoral trainees are admitted to graduate school through the Biological Chemistry, Chemistry, or MD/PhD programs and compete for two years of PITCH support starting early in their second year based on a competitive application process that evaluates excellence in research and coursework, a research proposal, a training plan, and letters of recommendation. All trainees are required to take a Scientific Ethics course, an approved slate of courses, and participate in PITCH activities, including a summer Journal Club, monthly student-only dinners to present research progress, an annual retreat, a virtual seminar series curated from participating departmental offerings, and a Nano-Sabbatical program to acquire professional experience outside of the thesis lab. Support is requested for four predoctoral students per year. The impact of this program will be amplified by including students not selected for funding in PITCH activities via an affiliate program. PITCH will prepare students for leading independent positions in Chemical Biology.

Title: Culture of Excellence in Laboratory Safety (CELS)
Principal Investigator: J. Michael Wyss, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham
Over the past 4 years, Lawson State and Jefferson State Community Colleges (LSCC, JSCC) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) joined together to develop a dynamic program bridging community college students into biomedical education at 4-year institutions and then on to biomedical and behavioral graduate programs and careers. Bridges to Biomedical Careers (BBC) proposed that 80% of its students would enter into a 4-year college program in biomedical and behavioral sciences, 75% would gain a BS, 35% would enter biomedical graduate education and 35% would enter biomedical careers. Joint STEM education collaborations among the 3 schools, aggressive recruitment and close faculty and peer mentoring were important in BBC’s success. 59 students have entered BBC, 86% have completed an AS in a biomedical-related field, 100% are graduates or still in BBC, 100% are underrepresented minorities, and 5 are in biomedical graduate programs. BBC II will enhance this success further by closer interactions among the 3 colleges in research and education and increased faculty, peer mentoring, and new collaborative biomedical courses on the 3 campuses. An additional 5 years of student tracking will allow us to identify of BBC/BBCII elements that predict which students will gain most from various aspects of BBC/BBC II. Biomedical research is expanding rapidly in the US; however, minorities continue to be underrepresented in this workforce. Minorities constitute ~29% of the US population, but hold only ~7% of PhD degrees and only ~4% of RO1 grants in biomedical and behavioral science. Many minority students lack early engagement and opportunities to develop skills and content knowledge to complete BS programs. BBCII will provide students at community colleges with educational opportunities, internships and mentoring that will introduce them biomedical and behavioral research and prepare them for rigorous advanced coursework at UAB. The students will be paid for their summer research internships and for research/mentoring opportunities during the school year. Students will be encouraged to be peer mentors to newer BBC II students, thus facilitating a successful transition to UAB and beyond. Top performing interns will be recruited to return to their community college to talk to students about their research and how to become a biomedical researcher. The Broader Impact of BBC II will be to create a new cadre of minority individuals in biomedical and behavioral research. The Intellectual Merit will be to identify methods that engage and prepare underrepresented students for careers in biomedical and behavioral research. The two community colleges are different, and thus BBC II will identify best methods for diverse students.


Listed below are the details of the projects funded under PA-18-758:

Title: Training in Laboratory Safety and Accident Prevention to Build a Culture of Safety
Principal Investigator: Jonathan D. Smith, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic
A majority of the existing training at Cleveland Clinic relies on the convenience of on-line modules. Although this type of training helps to provide standardized information to a large audience, the element of didactic training with the opportunity to ask questions and participate in further discussion, is lost. Our planned training will focus on accident theory and prevention seminars, the use of case studies and small group discussion, an emphasis on common lab accidents, lab-based demonstrations on handling of chemicals and biohazards, video case studies, generation of check lists for common lab procedures, and assembly of a lab safety curriculum that can be disseminated. These additional training experiences will help to provide practical training for everyday work within a laboratory, the sharing and/or teaching of safe handling methods to others within the research laboratory and promote a culture of safety in our workplace.