Understanding how pathogens emerge or re-emerge and how potential risk can be minimized through effective regulatory management has become a priority for many national and international organizations seeking to strengthen public health controls. 

Biosafety, biosecurity and effective regulatory management of global disease threats to humans and animals are critical for public health control by national and international organizations. Widely circulating theories about the possibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus originating from a laboratory spark renewed fears of bioweapons, and biosafety, biosecurity and dual-use concerns in the case of unintended development and release. The potential threats posed by human and animal pathogens do not recognize international borders, highlighting the importance of international networking and co-operation in the continued development of knowledge and expertise and in promoting more global or mutually complementary responses.

Introduction to the IEGBBR

Since the inaugural meeting in 2007, representatives of national regulatory bodies of the International Experts Group of Biosafety and Biosecurity Regulators (IEGBBR) have continued to meet every 18-24 months to continue open and frank discussions on critical topics related to biosafety and biosecurity regulation and to continue further international cooperation among the world's regulators of human and zoonotic animal pathogens.

The IEGBBR is made up of biosafety and/or biosecurity regulatory authorities from 11 member countries that have strong biosafety and biosecurity regulatory oversight systems in place. The IEGBBR was formed under the leadership of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Member countries include (in order of flags): Australia (AU), Canada (CA), Switzerland (CH), Germany (DE), Denmark (DK), France (FR), Japan (JP), the Netherlands (NL), Singapore (SG), United Kingdom (UK), and United States (US). The World Organisation for Animal Health and World Health Organization are non-member observers.

Member countries

The IEGBBR is governed by a Steering Committee. Its Chair is the member that has obtained the funding for the IEGBBR Secretariat and projects, and the two additional Steering Committee members are selected from two of the three IEGBBR regions (North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific). The IEGBBR has face-to-face meetings every 18 months to 2 years, and the location rotates between the members’ regions as indicated below. The 8th biennial meeting was held virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Purpose of IEGBBR

The purpose of the IEGBBR is to provide a forum for the sharing of knowledge and experience with regard to current human and zoonotic animal pathogen biosafety and biosecurity oversight issues. While the focus is on human and zoonotic animal pathogens, the issues discussed can also intersect with the oversight of non-zoonotic animal pathogens and plant pathogens. One of the goals of the IEGBBR is to strengthen international biosafety and biosecurity by sharing expertise and lessons learned from the perspectives of our established regulatory systems with the global community. To do so, the IEGBBR develops reference tools and materials that are relevant to all countries, including developing countries and countries that already have established biosafety and biosecurity oversight frameworks. This is due to the universal nature of the IEGBBR’s reference materials that can benefit the international community, regardless of level of development or resources. The work of the IEGBBR therefore contributes to multiple aspects of the development and strengthening of global health security, in particular the strengthening of international biosafety and biosecurity oversight.

We would like to thank Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program for providing the funding for IEGBBR projects and the IEGBBR Secretariat.

Canada GovernmentGlobal Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program