Wisconsin lab broke Ebola rules, watchdog group says

first_imgSep 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW-Madison) worked on Ebola virus genetic material in a lab that lacked the required security measures, and federal agencies responsible for monitoring compliance didn’t notice the problem, a watchdog group that monitors biodefense research safety reported recently.UW-Madison’s institutional biosafety committee (IBC) wrongly allowed well-known influenza researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka to work with Ebola genetic material in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) lab, though federal rules require use of a BSL-4 lab for such work, the Sunshine Project, based in Austin, Tex., reported on Sep 19. BSL-4 is the highest biosecurity rating.The university stopped the research in October 2006 after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said a BSL-4 lab was required, even though the university disagreed, according to UW-Madison officials. The NIH was funding the research.Ebola is a highly contagious virus that causes a hemorrhagic fever and is lethal in about 50% to 90% of cases. Because the Ebola virus is so dangerous, the US government lists it as a category A bioterrorism agent. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the disease.The Web site for Kawaoka’s lab says that in addition to work on influenza viruses, researchers are exploring the molecular pathogenesis of the Ebola virus and have established a reverse-genetics system for generating the virus, which they hope to use for vaccine production and the identification of antiviral medication targets.The Web site emphasizes that the lab has developed a novel complement system that allows researchers to study Ebola virus glycoproteins without having to do the work in a BSL-4 lab.Researcher sought lighter restrictionsThe Sunshine Project’s report makes it clear that Kawaoka and his colleagues weren’t working with live Ebola virus, but rather full-length copies of Ebola DNA (complementary DNA, or cDNA) that lacks two critical proteins that could trigger growth of an infectious virus. However, the group says that federal rules require use of a BSL-4 lab for handling Ebola virus genetic material “that has not been rendered irreversibly incapable of reproducing.”The rule violation came to light only after Kawaoka asked permission to do the work in a BSL-2 lab, which prompted Jan Klein, UW-Madison’s biological safety officer, to seek guidance from the NIH, according to e-mail messages posted on the Sunshine Project’s Web site. The NIH responded that studies with the Ebola material should be conducted in a BSL-4 lab, which UW-Madison does not have.Edward Hammond, Sunshine Project director, said in the press release that the NIH’s response amounts to disapproving its own project. “It is dismaying but not surprising that NIH’s biodefense program was funding work that violates NIH’s safety rules. The guidelines have been an unenforced afterthought for years,” he said.The violation apparently was not noted by staff from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Select Agent Program, which inspected Kawaoka’s lab, the Sunshine Project said.UW official sees inconsistent rulesIn an interview with CIDRAP News, James W. Tracy, associate dean of research in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison, defended Kawaoka’s request to do the work in a BSL-2 lab as reasonable. “He made the request based on facts that his colleagues at the CDC are working with the same material under BSL-2 conditions,” he said. Kawaoka’s lab is part of the veterinary school.The main problem stems from differences in how research facilities interpret NIH guidelines for working with pathogens, Tracy said. Although UW-Madison disagreed with the NIH’s finding that Kawaoka’s work should be done in a BSL-4 lab, it quickly complied, he said. On Oct 28, 2006, the university halted work with the Ebola material, and Kawaoka sent the projects to a BSL-4 lab in Winnipeg, Man., where he has continued to be involved with the work.Federal officials are in a difficult position, Tracy said, because it appears that different federal agencies have different biosecurity standards.Hammond and his group are playing up inconsistencies among the government agencies to suggest that biological work is being done improperly, the public is at risk, and federal oversight is lax, Tracy said. “And I disagree,” he added.CDC official downplays riskThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH, did not respond to a CIDRAP News request for comment on the Sunshine Project report. But Rob Weyant, director of the CDC’s Select Agent Program, told CIDRAP News that the CDC doesn’t regulate nucleic acids of the Ebola virus, which is apparently what Kawaoka’s lab was working with. “Ebola is one of the most dangerous microbes, but when you break it up and take out the nucleic acids, the nucleic acids themselves are much less hazardous,” he said.Changing cDNA from the Ebola virus into its infectious RNA form is possible, but not easy, Weyant said. When CDC inspectors toured Kawaoka’s lab they would have made sure good safety procedures were in place for work with cDNA material of the Ebola virus, he added.At the CDC, researchers do work with Ebola nucleic acids outside BSL-4 labs, Weyant said. “This is based on a risk assessment and a pretty good understanding of these viruses,” he said, adding that it was “unclear” if the agency’s researchers work with the material in BSL-2 labs.Congress to look into lab safetyThe apparent rule violations at the UW-Madison lab follow a string of other violations at four Texas universities that also were exposed recently by the Sunshine Project. In late June the CDC ordered a biodefense research laboratory at Texas A&M University to stop all work on select agents and toxins while the agency investigated reports of lab workers infected with the category B bioterrorism agents Brucella and Coxiella burnetti. A week ago the Sunshine Project revealed that three University of Texas facilities recently had lab accidents with dangerous pathogens, including the agents of anthrax, tularemia, and shigellosis.Concerns about safety at US biodefense labs come amid ongoing foot-and-outh (FMD) disease outbreaks in the United Kingdom that health officials say were linked to release of the virus from flooded drain pipes at a facility in Pirbright that houses an FMD vaccine producer and a government research institute.Safety breaches at US biodefense labs have also caught the attention of lawmakers. The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it would hold a hearing on Oct 4 to explore the risks associated with the rising number of BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the United States, according to a Sep 21 news release from the committee.Rep John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the committee, said construction of biodefense labs has surged over the past several years, funded in part by the federal government.”Yet, little information is available about the number of labs being operated in the US and whether they are safely run,” he said. “While the research conducted at these labs is certainly valuable, we must make sure that it does not pose a risk to the public health.”See also:Sep 19 CIDRAP News story “Biosafety lapses reported at 3 more Texas labs”Sep 5 CIDRAP News story “CDC details problems at Texas A&M biodefense lab”last_img read more

NTTF Organises Trials to Prune Team

first_img“I am impressed with the response of the players because every one of them wants to make the team to South Africa. For now we will still be watching them because the trial will afford us to pick the best among them for the World Championship in Cape Town, South Africa by end of the year,” he said.However, the duo of Abayomi Animashaun and Azeez Solanke believe they would make the team having been part of the squad to Algiers where the team picked a spot to the global tournament.The invited players were part of the team that featured at the ITTF African Junior Championship in Algiers where they qualified for the World Juniors, while outstanding players from the National U-16 tournament also made it to the camp.President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Oshodi, the camp becomes necessary as some of the players would learn some of the latest rudiment of the sport.“The selected players will later go into close camping before the championship in November and they will continue to train in readiness for the competition.“Segun Toriola will surely depart to his base after the camping and we hope the coaches around can continue to sharpen the skills of the players before the tournament which has Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Tunisia representing Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram The National Training Centre of the Lagos National Stadium will come alive today as the 20 players in camp ahead of the 2016 ITTF World Junior Championship in South Africa will be trim in one-day trials.According to Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), the players will be pruned to 12 made up of six male and six female that will make the final camping for the championship holding in November 2016.According to the Coordinator of the camping exercise, Segun Toriola, the players have been given their best in order to be part of the team, adding that the 12-man team that would make the final phase of camping will be known this weekend.last_img read more

Syracuse draws Chattanooga in 1st round, looks to win 1st tournament game in program history

first_img Published on March 18, 2014 at 12:31 am Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbb The waiting game was brutal enough for Syracuse, and ESPN analyst Kara Lawson’s awkwardly funny player descriptions didn’t make the suspenseful atmosphere any more comforting.The Orange sat through the announcement of the first three full regions, as highlights of the national powerhouses rolled. Small seeds of doubt grew in some of the minds of the players that SU’s name wouldn’t be called, but relaxed head coach Quentin Hillsman knew his team had the necessary resume.And finally the Orange heard its name announced in the South Bend Region.“Heck yeah, it was painful to wait,” sophomore Brittney Sykes said. “It’s kind of funny because half of the team didn’t even know who we were playing at first when they called our name, because they said Syracuse was a sixth seed and we all just started screaming. I know I was one of them.”For the first time in school history, Syracuse is returning to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons. The Orange (22-9, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) earned a No. 6 seed, which ties the program’s best, and will face 11th-seeded Chattanooga on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Lexington, Ky.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut the most important piece of SU history the team hopes to eradicate is the goose egg that sits in the Orange’s all-time win column in the NCAA Tournament.“I want it so bad. Probably as much as I want a degree,” senior point guard Rachel Coffey said.A year ago, the seventh-seeded Orange was knocked out in the first round by No. 10 seed Creighton, which advanced after a five-point win. Syracuse’s senior class left without a Tournament victory, and the possibility of the same fate transferred to the shoulders of this year’s group of seniors.But now, the Orange has Tournament experience under its belt.“We’re excited. It’s just good to be going back to the Tournament,” Hillsman said. “It’s good to have a team that went last year going back again so we know what to expect. “We had freshmen playing on a very big stage and obviously now we have sophomores and a couple of seniors that can help step in and contribute.”Through a game and a half of ACC tournament play, Syracuse appeared to be on pace to make serious noise in its first tournament in the league.SU defeated Clemson by 10 in the opening game and had No. 14 North Carolina State on its heels. The Orange led by as many as nine points, but a 25-1 Wolfpack run coincided with 16 consecutive Syracuse misses and N.C. State sailed to a 16-point win. But since that March 7 loss, Hillsman said, the Orange has hammered out its own issues. Now it’s time to study up on Chattanooga. Neither Coffey nor Sykes had any insight on the Mocs immediately after the selection show, but Hillsman said Chattanooga’s a balanced, well-coached team. But by the time tipoff comes around Saturday, he said, his team will know too much about the Mocs.After Syracuse’s matchup was announced Monday night and Hillsman had received a congratulatory phone call from SU Director of Athletics Daryl Gross, he turned to his team in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.“Congratulations, y’all,” he said to his team. “Let’s go get this ‘W.’ Let’s get it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

UW can hold heads high despite loss

first_imgBOSTON – The Wisconsin Badgers’ season ended with a heartbreaking thud Thursday night once Jordan Taylor’s last-second heave fell short, but it began with outside expectations that made a Sweet 16 berth seem laughable.Wisconsin, after losing three starters – two in the frontcourt – was tasked with completing a significant makeover of this year’s roster. When Jon Leuer left for the NBA and Keaton Nankivil graduated to play in Germany, two glaring holes were left at forward and center. Juniors Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren stepped in, despite having started just one game between them in the prior two seasons.When the No. 4 seeded Badgers (26-10) saw their season end in a 64-63 loss to the top-seeded Syracuse Orange (26-10) in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament at TD Garden, Berggren had finished the game tied for the team-high with 17 points, while Evans had seven. The game snapped Evans’ string of 14 consecutive games with at least 10 points.Given what the team had lost, many outside opinions held that Wisconsin wouldn’t come close to repeating last year’s Sweet 16 berth. Inside the locker room, though, no such thought existed.“Yeah, I never had any doubt,” Berggren said. “Even when we started Big Ten play 1-3, we knew that wasn’t all we had. We went into [North] Carolina when they were [ranked No. 5] and took them down to a three-point game. We had plenty of mistakes in that game, and we were like, ‘Alright, if we would have done this, we could’ve got this win on the road.’ So we had no doubts of what we were capable of, at any point in the season.”It certainly wasn’t smooth, as the Badgers endured a three-game losing streak early in Big Ten play and then lost three of five after a six-game winning streak. But after collecting a rousing road upset of Ohio State on Feb. 9, Wisconsin put together a three-game winning streak to end the regular season.Thanks largely to 30 points from formerly unheralded senior guard/forward Rob Wilson, the Badgers advanced past the Indiana Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament. They fell to Michigan State, an eventual No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the following day, though Wisconsin did enter the Big Dance riding high.After two wins in the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers met the top-seeded Orange and took them to the brink. Afterward, head coach Bo Ryan was mainly upbeat, especially considering how far his team had come. Ryan specifically pointed out senior point guard Jordan Taylor’s leadership in helping the young, inexperienced frontcourt gel.“I think it helps if you have played to understand how inexperienced we were with that front line and the things that those guys ended up being able to do to put us at the record that we have and to put us into this position,” Ryan said. “Jordan deserves a lot of credit for that, so he’ll be sorely missed.”Unsurprisingly, Taylor took little credit shortly afterward in the Badgers’ locker room. As the undeniable star of this team, Taylor did have other things to be concerned with. His season began with preseason All-American accolades but was quickly met with weighty criticism after his numbers failed to meet last year’s stellar output. Against Syracuse, he capped a very strong March with 17 points on 6-for-15 shooting (including 5-for-9 from 3-point range), six assists and four rebounds.So when Taylor, with puffy eyes and a look of severe exhaustion on his face, was asked about his hand in leading Berggren, Evans and company to the promised land of the Sweet 16, his answer was an honest deflection of praise.“I don’t know, it’s kind of a hard question to answer just because I feel like they had that in them; it was just for them to come out and show it,” Taylor said when asked about his leadership role with the frontcourt. “I’m sure I had a small role in that, but I didn’t put all the talent in Ryan and Jared and Mike [Bruesewitz]. That’s not me; that’s them working hard in the games in the offseason. My job was just to try and get them ball and encourage them, be a leader for them.”last_img read more