Colorado State Microbiologist Earns Credentials to Become One of Only 88 People Certified in Biological Safety

Robert P. Ellis, professor of microbiology at Colorado State University, recently joined an elite group of 88 experts worldwide who have been certified by the American Biological Safety Association as Certified Biosafety Professionals.

Ellis earned the prestigious credential by passing a stringent examination designed to identify qualified biosafety specialist microbiologists. Of 14 applicants who took this recent examination, administered by the American College of Microbiology, only five passed the test.

"Dr. Ellis is a broadly-trained microbiologist who is well-qualified for his role as the University Biosafety Officer," said Ralph Smith, Interim Head of the Department of Microbiology. "His certification in Biosafety is a testament to his professionalism and reflects well on Colorado State University as an institution that values high standards."

Any research laboratory at Colorado State involved in studying microorganisms or recombinant DNA must have the approval of the Colorado State University Biosafety Committee. The research laboratory must first meet all biosafety guideline requirements before any application for the use of infectious agents can be approved. In addition, laboratories are audited annually to ensure guideline compliance.

As a Research 1 university, microbiologists at Colorado State are engaged in high-level research involving a variety of infectious agents such as parasites, bacteria and viruses including malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and others.

Ellis is the only certified biosafety officer in the Intermountain area and one of only ten in the entire West. He was the first biosafety officer at Colorado State University, from 1986 through 1989, and then from 1997 to the present.

He is a member of the Biosecurity Committee for the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Biosafety Committee for Colorado State University.

"It is indeed an honor to have an individual with Dr. Ellis’s qualifications on campus," said Earlie Thomas, Director of Environmental Health Services at Colorado State University. "Since there are only 88 of these professionals in North America, this places CSU in a unique position at a time when most Americans are concerned about bioterrorism. I am proud of the effort Dr. Ellis is making to better serve the University and the Community."

Ellis is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a doctorate in veterinary microbiology from Purdue University.

As the only organization certifying microbiologist in both clinical and non-clinical specialty areas, the NRM certification process is one of the highly stringent certification programs of the American College of Microbiology, a credentialing group within the American Society for Microbiology. The mission of the American College of Microbiology is to promote the high-quality practice of the profession of microbiology for the benefit of human, animal and environmental well-being.