Returning to the Operational Lab Environment During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 coronavirus has required closures of facilities across the country, many laboratory owners, operators, engineers, and designers have discussed how to ensure safe and sustainable start-ups once restrictions are lifted. To reach the broader sustainable labs community with this important topic, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) held a free town hall, Returning to the Operational Lab Environment During COVID-19.

View the Town Hall Recording

A panel of representatives from academic, private, and government laboratories addressing questions from social distancing to personal protective equipment to operational issues, such as ventilation balancing and controls. There were a variety of questions about returning labs to operation; while we couldn't get to all of them, I2SL has started a discussion thread on Facebook to address them.

Webinar Recording

View the webinar recording. You can also download the PowerPoint slides used during the discussion.

As there are many and varied topics to cover while the country continues to cope with COVID-19, I2SL and its Northern California Chapter hosted this town hall in conjunction with the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), the San Francisco Chapter of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), and Sustainable Labs Canada (SLCan). This town hall is the first in a series of public service events I2SL will provide to discuss lessons learned about safe and sustainable lab stoppage and start-up.

Join the Conversation on Lab Start-Up


Mike Cakouros is the Director of Safety, Health, Environment & Sustainability (SHE) at the AstraZeneca Gaithersburg Biopharmaceutical R&D site, where he leads the SHE team supporting AZ’s largest U.S. site, with nearly 4,000 employees involved in research, development, manufacturing, and commercial operations. He is also responsible for overall campus energy management, sustainability efforts, health and wellbeing activities, and SHE program implementation. Prior to AstraZeneca, Mr. Cakouros was an EHS and Risk Director with GSK, where he led EHS, crisis management, business continuity, and risk management at site and supply chain levels. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and holds degrees from the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Richard Fairfax, (CIH retired 2017) joined the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in January 1978. In 1994, he worked as the Senior Industrial Hygienist for health enforcement in OSHA headquarters. From there, he became the OSHA Deputy Director for the Directorate of Compliance Programs, where he directed day-to-day activities in health and safety enforcement, and he became the Director in 1998. In 2008, he was the Acting Director of Construction. In April 2010, Mr. Fairfax was designated as the Deputy Assistant Secretary, overseeing all field, enforcement, and training operations for OSHA. He retired from OSHA in May 2013. From 1993 through 2010, Mr. Fairfax wrote an industrial hygiene column entitled “OSHA Compliance Issues” for the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and continues to serve of the Editorial Review Board and conduct peer review of journal articles. Currently, Mr. Fairfax works part time for MedImmune/AstraZeneca and ORCHSE.

Julie Gilmore, Ph.D. is the Site Head and Chief Operating Officer for Lilly Gateway Labs based in South San Francisco. Lilly Gateway Labs is designed to speed the discovery of innovative medicines through collaboration with Bay Area biotech companies. Julie joined Eli Lilly after Julie completing her Doctorate in Membrane Biophysics from Purdue University and her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Drug Transport from Indiana University School of Medicine. During her 20-year career at Lilly, Julie has held several leadership and scientific positions across research and drug development, including Head of Information Sciences and Clinical Operations for Lilly Europe, Six Sigma Champion for the Clinical Development Organization, Global Head of Scientific Communications, and most recently and prior to moving to San Francisco, Senior Director of Portfolio Management for the Neurodegeneration and Pain Early Phase Portfolio. Beyond her work at Lilly, Julie is an active member of the United Way Tocqueville Society. She is also passionate about leadership development and serves as a mentor and advisor to several university graduate school programs including locally at UCSF.

Chris Incarvito: In his role as Associate Provost for Science Initiatives at Yale University’s West Campus, Dr. Incarvito leads development of research, faculty recruitment, campus expansion, sustainability, and has oversight for communications. He is responsible for the quality and creation of new research programming and facilities through collaborative work with faculty, directors, deans, department chairs, and other university leadership. He spearheads an ambitious program of laboratory modernization, delivering a significant expansion of Yale's science and engineering capacity. He manages strategic capital investments, deployment of high-value shared research instrumentation laboratories, and has built successful collaborations with global scientific research organizations.

David Kang is the Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Sustainability and the Chief Facilities Officer at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder, where he manages facilities to support education and research. He is also responsible for overall campus sustainability and resiliency, real estate, and environmental, health, and safety programs. Prior to CU Boulder, David was the Director of Project Management at the White House Military Office, where he led several classified facility programs and projects. He also served as the Director for Shore Energy for the Department of the Navy, where he championed a culture of sustainability and led department-wide efforts to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy and integrate smart energy technologies on Naval installations.

Eric Knight is the Global Head of Environment, Health & Safety, and Sustainability at Ultragenyx, a biopharmaceutical company with a diverse portfolio of small molecule, monoclonal antibody, mRNA and gene therapy candidates. He is passionate about keeping people healthy and safe, enabling a positive impact to our environment, and helping deliver life changing medicines to patients through development of new treatments. His previous roles include Global Head of EHS at AstraZeneca and MedImmune and serving as a Lieutenant onboard the USS Providence nuclear-powered submarine.

Larry Matarazzi is responsible for all Real Estate, Facilities and Design & Construction at Vir Biotechnology. Larry is an Architect and previously held the same position at Medivation, and similar positions at Cisco and Sun Microsystems.

Ann Murray graduated from Newbury College in Boston MA with a Veterinary Technology degree. She worked in clinical veterinary practice for three years then joined Georgetown University Research Resources Facility in Washington DC. In 1999, she accepted a position as an Operations Specialist with Pathology Associates International/Charles River Laboratories. In 2001, her scope of responsibility expanded and currently is the Director of Business Development and Marketing for Charles River Laboratories Insourcing Solutions.

Thomas C. Smith is the President of 3Flow. Mr. Smith has worked for more than 30 years helping facilities provide safe, efficient and sustainable laboratories and critical workspaces. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene from the University of North Carolina. Mr. Smith has served as Chair of ASHRAE TC9.10 Laboratory Systems, Chair of the ANSI/AIHA Z9 Standards for Ventilation and Health, and has been a member of the ASHRAE 110 committee since 1991. He serves on the Board for the International Institute of Sustainable Labs (I2SL) and is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at North Carolina State University.

Moderator: Melody Spradlin is Vice President, Global Facilities and Corporate Engineering at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. She is a seasoned design and construction professional with more than 30 years of experience leading complex teams to meet strategic corporate and project goals. Melody has a proven track record leading cross-functional teams working on all aspects of capital projects, facilities, sourcing and supply chain. She currently leads Ultragenyx’s Global Facilities, Corporate Engineering, Real Estate, Master Planning, Capital Projects, and EHS & Lab Operations. She has worked internationally in Japan, China and Brazil. She previously worked for Gilead Sciences, Apple, Genentech, the U.S. Navy & several San Francisco Bay Area general contractors. She is a graduate of the U.S Naval Academy, Stanford University, and Southern New Hampshire University.

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