Biological risk management Consulting

Creating high reliability Organization management expertise


Nature Press Release, dated 5 November 2015, about Tim Trevan's Comment article: 'Rethink biosafety'

"Easy-to-use and relatively inexpensive tools, such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, expand the possibilities of accidentally or purposefully producing hazardous organisms. In a Comment piece in this week’s Nature, Tim Trevan calls for a rethink of approaches to biosafety and biosecurity to prevent the accidental release of potentially harmful organisms or their products, or the deliberate release of such agents for nefarious purposes.

"Biologists do not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to safety. In the nuclear and other industries, as well as in the US Navy and some hospitals, best practice focuses on preventing failure rather than on maximizing output. Trevan, a consultant on biosafety and biosecurity, outlines what it takes to become such a ‘high-reliability organization’ or HRO. Instead of ticking boxes and following rules set by outside authorities everyone within the organization must constantly ask, “What can go wrong and how do we prevent it?”.

"In biosecurity and biosafety, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is widely seen as the global gold standard for biosafety and biosecurity. However, in Trevan’s view, recent mishaps at the organization, involving scores of people potentially being exposed to anthrax, indicate a need for change. “The problem with the CDC, the US Department of Defense, and the many labs around the world who follow their lead,” he says, “is not a lack of knowledge, training, or even a lack of engineering resources. It is the lack of a safety culture”.

"To avoid harming society, agriculture and the environment, or undermining the public’s support for promising technologies, researchers and others working with biological organisms must, he concludes, “learn from those doing safety better”."

links to other publications

tim trevan:  Selected publications

Tim Trevan:  Rethink Biosafety

Comment:  Nature, 527, 155–158, (12 November 2015)

Tim Trevan cited in 'Biosafety controls come under fire.  Experts call for a stronger safety culture at secure sites after incidents involving anthrax and flu in a US laboratory.' by Declan Butler.  
Nature News.  Nature511, 515–516,  (31 July 2014)

Tim Trevan:  Do not Censor Science in the Name of Biosecurity.  

Worldview Column.  Nature 486, 295, (21 June 2012)

Tim Trevan:  Military Science: The USSR's Deadly Secret.  

Book review, Nature, 489, 364–365, (20 September 2012)

Tim Trevan:  Chapters on Australia, China, South Korea and the US: BioWeapons Monitor 2014. Editor Kathryn McLaughlin, University of Bradford, 2014

Tim Trevan:  Saddam's Secrets: The Hunt for Iraq's Hidden Weapons.  HarperCollins, UK  1999

gavin macgregor-skinner publications

Chapter:  Dangerous Viral Pathogens of Animal Origin: Risk and Biosecurity Zoonotic Select AgentsJean-Paul Gonzalez · Gavin Macgregor-Skinner 
Zoonoses - Infections Affecting Humans and Animals: Focus on Public Health Aspects, 2015 edited by Andreas Sing, 12/2014: chapter 41: pages 1015-1062; Springer Netherlands., ISBN: 978-94-017-9456-5

Article:  Information and communication technology: Connecting the public and first responders during disastersMichelle M Buzzelli ·  Paula Morgan ·  Alexander G Muschek · Gavin Macgregor-Skinner 
Journal of Emergency Management 11/2014; 12(6):441-7. DOI:10.5055/jem.2014.0207

A full list with details is available at