Supplementary memorandum from the Health
1. An independent review of the current
provision and future needs for high level microbiological containment
facilities across the UK for both human and animal pathogens is
being conducted under the chairmanship of Professor George Griffin,
Vice Principal for Research at St George's Hospital Medical School.
Proposals for this initiative initially came from the Medical
Research Council who asked the Health Protection Agency if it
would be willing to lead the review because of its experience
in the operation of high containment facilities for use with human
pathogens. The HPA agreed but recommended the appointment of an
independent Chair. Other agencies, notably the Biotechnology and
Biological Sciences Research Council and the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs have since expressed an interest in the
review due to their involvement with similar containment facilities
used for animal pathogens.
2. The overall purpose of this review is
to identify the scientific and technology drivers that may define
the UK's future need for microbiological high containment facilities
and the consequent future manpower and skills requirements. It
will produce advice for the sponsoring organisations to consider
during discussions on the business cases and investments needed
to support and develop these facilities across the UK. It will
also provide advice on opportunities for joint working between
the sponsoring organisations. The current terms of reference for
the review are:
To obtain, and keep secure, a definitive
list of all ACDP CL4 or SAPO4 facilities currently in operation
across the UK, their location, capacity and capability in terms
of the type work they support.
To obtain information on the life
expectancy and plans for refurbishment/new build of these existing
facilities, to identify organisations which have an interest in
using or providing ACDP CL4/SAPO4 facilities in the future and
which may be planning their construction.
To undertake a strategic horizon
scanning programme in order to identify scientific and technology
drivers that will define future needs and access requirements,
in terms of capacity, technologies, safety, security and regulation,
over a 10-20 year period. This will also consider the scope and
constraints for introducing flexibility and sharing of the facilities
To consider possible exemplars in
Europe and North America particularly with respect to trends in
likely physical infrastructure (suited versus cabinet line laboratories),
location (urban versus remote sites) and security requirements.
To identify the manpower and skills
requirements for specialist personnel employed in ACDP CL4/SAPO4
facilities and all aspects (including costs) of the reaccreditation
of both staff and facilities.
To identify opportunities for collaboration
and synergy to optimise effective and efficient provision, and
value for money, in delivering UK high level containment needs
for research and public health protection.
To submit a review report to the
sponsors within eight months.
3. The House of Commons Inquiry into Biosecurity
in UK Research Laboratories is aware of this review and has requested
clarification on a number of points.
What is the structure of the review body?
4. The Chair of the Review Body is Professor
George Griffin who also chairs the Government's Advisory Committee
for Dangerous Pathogens. The Review Body itself currently consists
of Professor David Rowlands, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Virology,
Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Leeds,
Dr Tim Brooks, Head of Novel and Dangerous Pathogens, Centre for
Emergency Preparedness and Response and Dr Steve Lever, Head of
Biomedical Sciences, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
Dr John Newbold and Dr Mike Paton from the Health and Safety Executive
are providing expert advice to the Review Body. The Review is
being managed by Dr Peter Greenaway, Director of Horus Research
Management Ltd; Dr Greenaway was previously employed by the Department
of Health and the Public Health Laboratory Board.
5. The review will include a series of site
visits to both UK and international microbiological high containment
facilities. These will be fact finding missions that will help
to set the context of the review and provide a better understanding
of how legislative and regulatory frameworks may influence global
demand for access to these facilities.
6. There will also be a widespread consultation
with the widest possible stakeholder groups so that the review
can bring together the perspectives of facility operators, regulators,
scientists, funders and policy makers, all of whom will have an
interest in, or direct experience of handling, human and animal
pathogens. To date, some 60 individuals and organisations within
the academic, clinical and industrial communities in the UK have
been contacted, provided with the current terms of reference for
the review and requested to provide their views on the UK's future
needs for microbiological high containment facilities. It is anticipated
that a number of one to one meetings will be held with some of
those who respond to this request.
Who will be represented on the Steering Group/Committee?
Are organisations other than the MRC and HPA involved and how?
7. The Steering Committee is composed of
representatives from the Health Protection Agency, Medical Research
Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council,
the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the
Department of Health. Dr Steve Chatfield, Director CEPR and Dr
John Stephenson, Director R&D represent the Health Protection
Agency; Dr Kevin Moreton represents the Medical Research Council;
Mr Brian Harris represents the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
Research Council; Dr Ruth Lysons represents the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Ms Maggie Tomlinson represents
the Department of Health.
8. The remit of the Steering Committee is
to agree the terms of reference for the review and to oversee
all aspects of the review process. The Steering Committee has
met three times so far and it is anticipated that it will meet
at least another three times.
Who is funding the review?
9. The final funding arrangements for the
review have yet to be decided however, the HPA, MRC and BBSRC
have each agreed to provide an equal share of the overall budget.
A financial contribution is also being sought from DEFRA.
To whom will the review report?
10. The Review Body chaired by Professor
Griffin has freedom to operate as an independent group. It will
report its findings to the Steering Committee. Members of the
Steering Group and their respective host organisations will be
given the opportunity to comment on the review findings. The final
review report will contain independent and impartial advice to
the HPA, MRC, BBSRC, the Department of Health and DEFRA on the
investments needed to support the likely future needs for microbiological
high containment facilities across the UK and on the consequent
manpower and skills requirements.
Will the review be made available to organisations
other than the MRC, for example the Government?
11. The review report will be "owned"
by those organisations which have made a financial contribution
to its production. In this regard the report and its findings
will remain confidential if the sponsoring organisations so wish.
However, it is anticipated that the sponsors will wish to make
the findings publicly available. In addition, Professor Griffin
has given an undertaking to share the review findings with the
12. It is recognised that there are obvious
security implications for some of the information likely to be
accumulated during the process of this review. Guidance on this
issue is currently being sought from the National Counter Terrorism
Security Office but it is considered likely that an Executive
Summary or a suitably `sanitised' annotated report, in which potentially
sensitive information is removed, will be placed in the public
13. In short, it is intended that the review
findings and the advice generated will be made available to organisations
other than the MRC, including the Government.
When will the final terms of reference be produced?
Which organisations will feed into the process of drawing these
14. The final terms of reference for the
review are to be agreed at the Steering Committee meeting on 3
June. The organisations represented on the Steering Committee
will be responsible for drawing these up and agreeing them.
What is the timetable for the review?
15. The current plan is for the Review Body
to report its findings to the Steering Committee by October 2008.