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OWSD Conference on Biosafety: Navigating Biorisk Management in Pakistan

January 01, 2024

In a momentous event that unfolded over three days, the Dr. A.Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), University of Karachi, played host to the "OWSD Conference on Biosafety: Navigating Biorisk Management in Pakistan." This pivotal gathering, organized by the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) – Pakistan National Chapter, in collaboration with the Pakistan Biological Safety Association (PBSA) and Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS), took place from December 29-30, 2023, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of biosafety.


Setting the stage for the conference, a pre-conference workshop on December 28, 2023, offered a unique opportunity for hands-on training. Renowned biosafety experts and trainers delved into effective biological risk mitigation strategies. Prof. Dr. Saeed Khan, President of PBSA, provided insights into various approaches for mitigating biohazards. This was followed by a lecture on "Development of SOPs" by Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Naqvi. Ms. Aneeta Hotwani and Ms. Shahida Qureshi from Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) demonstrated transportation of infectious substances, while Mr. Furqan Kabir from AKUH outlined risk assessment. Dr. Maria Zahid from Dow University of Health Sciences contributed with a lecture and practical demonstration on "Waste and Spill Management."

The inaugural day of the conference, marked by a welcome address from Dr. Saima Saleem, Secretary of OWSD Pakistan National Chapter, featured a lecture on Environmental Safety by Ms. Qandeel Zehra Zameer from the Environmental Protection Agency. Scientific sessions were conducted by Dr. Shahida Qureshi on the importance of Biorisk Management in laboratory environments and Dr. Huma Baqai on exploring the socio-political dimensions and ethical challenges in biorisk management.

A notable aspect of the conference was the active participation of students from diverse disciplines and institutes. They showcased their research through oral and poster presentations over both days. A panel of judges meticulously evaluated these presentations based on criteria such as originality, sustainability, impact, and presentation style, with cash prizes awarded to deserving winners.




The grand finale, the concluding ceremony, featured addresses from key figures. Dr. Saeed Khan reiterated the importance of biosafety and biosecurity culture. Prof. Bina Shaheen Siddiqui, President of OWSD Pakistan National Chapter, commended the organizers and research students for their contributions. Prof. Dr. Khalid Muhammad Iraqi, Director General of KIBGE and Vice-chancellor University of Karachi, acknowledged the wealth of knowledge shared during the conference, stressing the significance of continued collaboration. Ms. Rana Hussain, the Provincial Minister for School & College Education and Women Empowerment, expressed optimism about the impactful endeavors born out of the connections forged during the conference.


The closing remarks resonated with a call to action, urging participants to carry forth the spirit of innovation and cooperation into their respective fields, ensuring that the conference's legacy endures beyond its final moments. The OWSD Conference on Biosafety emerges not just as an event but as a catalyst for ongoing collaboration and advancements in biosafety and biosecurity in Pakistan.

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