‘Twas the Night Before……

‘Twas the night before Christmas, And nobody’s here.

All of us Feds are on break, But please don’t you fear…

The policy gurus, soon will return,

NIH’s midnight oil will not cease to burn.

The NExTRAC working groups are now on their way,

Emerging biotech we need to think on today.

And the Draft Data Policy is finally out,

Waiting for comments, the cheers and the shouts.

The BESH researchers are nestled, snug in their delay,

As we work with them on ensuring results see light of day.

Rumors are flying on the public access front,

We have no comment, if I may be so blunt.

The Common Rule at long last will go into effect,

Genomic Summary Results, you can now freely detect.

Return of results, we’re still thinking deep thoughts,

How to respect research participants, who we care about lots.

We’re thinking about ethics for humans, monkeys, and BRAIN,

That doesn’t mean new policy, is our constant refrain!

And I, in my role as NIH Chief of Staff,

“What work-life balance?”, I’ve been known to laugh.

On sexual harassment, let me be very clear,

Unacceptable, immoral, and not welcome here.

The culture that allows bad behavior to occur,

Is something everyone of us is responsible for.

Science needs to change, NIH needs to drive it,

We must unite with those who have somehow survived it.

“So, on civility, on respect, on diversity and inclusion!

On safe research spaces, down with biased exclusion!

On polices that promote only science that is best,

Rigorous and translatable, when put to the test!”

And when the NSABB convenes in the first quarter of ’20,

Biosecurity and transparency, we’ll talk about plenty!

The NIH Guidelines need a refresh,

And improving clinical trials goes well beyond BESH.

Heritable gene editing is still all the rage,

Will the world’s governance bodies get on the same page?

Policy opportunities abound in the coming New Year!

From all of our stakeholders, we’re dying to hear…

But for now let’s pause, as we rarely do,

To say from NIH OSP, happy holidays to you!

Comments (3):

    Twas the Night Before…
    ~A Biosafety Parable~
    Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the lab
    Not a bug was growing, on plate, slant or stab;
    The 37 incubator had just bought the farm,
    But TempTrak had, again, failed to alarm.
    Techs were snoring, asleep in their cubbies;
    Dreaming of food, golf or hubbies;
    And Kim in her PAPR, Annette in her mask,
    Performing some Select Agent task,
    When the air handling started to clatter
    And I donned PPE to see what was the matter.
    Into the anteroom I tripped and fell,
    Farted a little (but not much smell).
    A sound in the hallway of the BSL3
    Indicated that, surely, it wasn’t just me,
    When what to my wandering eye did appear
    But a suited-up stranger, holding a beer,
    A flask, some tubes, a beaker, too;
    I knew in a heartbeat – he must be new.
    More rapid than E coli, his organisms grew,
    As he streaked, and plated, and subbed them, too.
    Now Anthrax, now Tule, now Plague and TB
    Clostridium, Coxiella..…even Strep (group B?)
    To the top of the vial and over his loop
    Stuff was growing out, from somebody’s poop.
    When bacteria are fed, as labs often do,
    And grow exponential, before they are through,
    So up to the benchtop the cultures grew,
    With plates full of agar, and egg yolk too.
    And then, wrinkling, after hour 48,
    The bugs started flowing out of each little plate.
    As I drew on my gown and fitted my mask,
    To the BSC he ran, spilling his flask.
    He was dressed all in white, from his hood to his booties,
    But this guy was bad; I’m talking lice, maybe cooties;
    A bunch of tubes he held in a rack,
    And two beers were left, in an old paper sack.
    His eye – only one! His chin clearly doubled!
    Spittle, like catalase, frothed and bubbled!
    The drool from his mouth dangled like string,
    Long and loose, it moved like a swing;
    Greenish and grey were the stumps of his teeth
    And his breath (!), it circled his head like a wreath;
    He had a bulbous nose and snot like jelly
    That ran under his mask, onto his belly.
    He was short and obese, a troll, a goblin.
    How on earth could he have got in?
    A twitch in that eye, a jerk of his head;
    A convulsion, I thought, with some dread!
    He spoke not a word, but gave me a smile,
    Then pooped in his Tyvek (alas, it took a while).
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    He gagged a little as the smell arose.
    I sprang to the fume hood and took a large breath
    This jerk was going to be my death!
    But I heard him cry, with my face to the grates-
    “If you think this is bad, don’t sniff the plates!”

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