Posted on June 02, 2014

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have jointly held a full-day course on the essential principles and practices of biological safety in laboratory and clinical research.

More than 150 clinical, academic and research staff, including physicians, nurses, engineers, lab technicians, and scientists, from Qatar’s Academic Health System (AHS) partner organizations attended the course. The course was led by eminent biosafety trainer Professor Richard W. Gilpin, course director of the Control of Biohazards Course, originally developed at Johns Hopkins University in the US, and now in its 35th year of delivery. Professor Gilpin has over 30 years of experience as a medical faculty member and is a registered and certified biological safety professional. He also directs a legionella water testing laboratory based in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“The field of biosafety was developed back in the 1940s in the US and the UK to raise awareness amongst those who work with hazardous microorganisms. Biosafety principles are designed to protect the workers and the support staff, people in the laboratory and in the building, and also the general public,” Professor Gilpin said. “The training provided in the course is important for all professionals working with microorganisms, by promoting safe ways of working through identification of potential hazards and accident prevention,” he described, adding that: “An important aspect of the training focuses on the basics of working in a laboratory: safe movements, types of gloves and protective clothing, proper hand washing techniques, and how to manage spills.”

Director of HMC’s Interim Translational Research Institute (iTRI) and Head of Research for the Division of Medicine, Professor Ramzi Mohamad stated: “The healthcare research culture in Qatar is developing rapidly, and HMC and the Academic Health System are playing a key role in its development. This course provides a vital foundation for healthcare professionals engaged in biomedical research in Qatar to continue safe and effective research.” “Healthcare professionals from across our system, including physicians, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team, are increasingly involved in research and look forward to participating in research opportunities. It is very important for them to learn how to perform their experiments safely without causing any harm to themselves and others, or the environment,” Professor Mohamad added.

Veteran microbiologist conducts AHS [].JPG

During the course, delegates had the opportunity to delve into several biological safety concerns, including lab inquired infections, lab design criteria and primary barriers, risk management principles, laboratory practices and techniques, and decontamination and disinfection. Commenting on the significance of the course, Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Weill Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), Thomas L. Doyle noted: “An essential part of delivering high quality research and clinical care is to perform it safely, thus eliminating all unacceptable risks.”

Doyle added that the partnership between HMC and WCMC-Q to organize the course is beneficial for healthcare and research professionals from both institutions. “Whenever we can partner together on important subjects like biological safety, we are helping to advance the vision and mission of Qatar in developing into a knowledge-based society.”

Biomedical research in Qatar aims to address national health priorities in line with the Qatar National Research Strategy. Qatar’s AHS, the first within the MENA region, is a dynamic nationwide network integrating research, education and clinical care to focus on improving patient care and delivering innovative healthcare solutions. The eight member organizations working collaboratively in the AHS include HMC, WCMC-Q, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, the Primary Health Care Corporation, Qatar University and University of Calgary-Qatar.