Dr. Saeed Khan, a long-time associate of Health Security Partners, has successfully passed the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) exam to become to Certified Biorisk Management Professional!
Q: What made you interested in becoming a Certified Biorisk Management Professional?
A: Over the last 15 years, I have attended several national and international workshops and training programs for biosafety, biosecurity and biorisk management. More recently, I have become an ambassador in the field, and have helped to organize various training programs, workshops and microbial science promotion campaigns throughout Pakistan. I realized that to be a biosafety trainer, though, you need to be certified by the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA). My mentors, Dr. Amir Ikram (PBSA) and my hero Sean G. Kaufman (Safer Behaviors) encouraged me to take this exam, and I am so thankful for this support. I have successfully cleared the exam and am now a certified Biorisk Management Professional!
Q: How did Health Security Partners help you achieve this goal?
A: The entire Health Security Partners (HSP) team, specifically Jason Rao, Jessie McLean, and Jay Miller (3Js J) were very supportive in helping me to become a Certified Biorisk Management Professional. I have a long relationship with HSP in which I successfully established a “Centre of Excellence for Biosafety and Biosecurity” at Dow University of Heath Sciences in Karachi, Pakistan. This Center of Excellence serves to conduct biosafety and biosecurity training programs for risk assessment, risk management, risk communication, and safe handling practices in laboratories. To date, we have successfully trained over 200 participants from various institutions. Moreover, HSP has provided opportunities for participation in conferences, training courses and workshops on microbiology, biosafety and biosecurity. This exposure and these experiences undoubtedly helped me to achieve this goal. I am thankful for HSP’s support and encouragement throughout this process.
Q: What was the most interesting/surprising thing you learned in preparing for this exam?
A: Passing the IFBA exam is not an easy task – you cannot pass it through mere memorization, but need to truly understand the concepts of biorisk management. The most interesting part about preparing for the exam was working with other friends in a group, particularly discussing real-life scenarios and clarifying the concepts. This was fun and productive preparation. Throughout this process, I learned the basic rules for risk evaluation and management, and was surprised to learn that there are very few rules for risk mitigation. Everyone working in the laboratory is equally responsible for making sure that all biosafety procedures are followed, and potential risks are assessed appropriately.
Q: What do you now hope to achieve as a Certified Biorisk Management Professional? What new challenges do you anticipate?
A: As a certified Biorisk Management Professional, I am now fully trained in the fundamental principles and practices of biorisk management. I hope that with this training, I will be able to encourage more students, researchers and technologists to take the IFBA certification exam, and I will be conducting short lectures and training sessions to help them prepare. I know that there is still plenty more to achieve, and my next target will be to clear other IFBA’s certified exams for the Biosafety Professionals, such as the Professional Certification in Biological Waste Management. My biggest goal, however, is to implement biosafety rules and culture at my institute and elsewhere in Pakistan.
Q: What advice do you have for others interested Biorisk Management?
A: My advice for others interested in biorisk management is to get certified. IFBA is one of the top renowned organizations that certifies biosafety professionals in different disciplines, so you must figure out exactly where your interests lay. I always say, “THINGS CAN BE DONE” so if you are committed and prepared, you will be able to pass this exam. More important than IFBA exam, though, is to implement the biosafety rules and principles in real-life, because no one is safe until everyone is safe.