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Professor Stuart Blacksell

Professor Stuart Blacksell

Podcast interview

Risk-based approach to biosafety

In biosafety and biosecurity, the recent risk-based approach departs from a rigid one-size-fits-all model. Tailoring safety measures to pathogen and activity levels enhances flexibility, which is vital in resource-limited settings. Systematic reporting of lab incidents globally is lacking, hindering transparency and root cause analysis. Most accidents result from human or procedural errors, highlighting the need for investment in personnel training.

View podcast transcript

Stuart Blacksell

Professor of Tropical Microbiology

  • MORU Biorisk and Zoonosis group leader
  • Head of MORU Health & Safety
  • MORU-DTRA projects team leader
  • MORU Postgraduate student coordinator


Professor Stuart Blacksell is based at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Thailand where he has been since 2001. Stuart is a Professor of Tropical Microbiology at the University of Oxford and Visiting Professor and Honorary Associate Professor at the Open University UK and University of Sydney in Australia. He has been actively been involved in studies in Southeast since 1989, where initially worked as a member of the diagnostics team for the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (1983-2001) which first brought him to Thailand (1989-1994) and Laos (1996-2001).

In his current post, he is the Health & Safety team leader and Biorisk and Zoonosis group leader, he leads projects on One Health pathogens focussing on biosafety and biosecurity in veterinary and human health laboratories in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. As Departmental Safety Officer and chair of the MORU network Health and Safety Committee (2003-present), Stuart is responsible for implementing and enforcing University of Oxford safety regulations across the MORU network, and for training new and existing staff, and annual site inspections. As MORU’s Post-graduate Student Coordinator/Training Coordinator, Stuart monitors and coordinates the work of more than 60 DPhil, PhD and MSc students.

Stuart is a Professor of Tropical Microbiology at the University of Oxford and Visiting Professor at the Open University and Mahidol University and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. He is a Registered Biosafety Professional with the American Biological Safety Association and a member of the WHO Biosafety Advisory Group, as well as holding a number of Fellowships. He is a member of the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual (LBM) 4th edition editorial committee since 2015 and lead author of two WHO LBM companion monographs, and is on the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) Roster of Experts and the WHO COVID-19 IHR expert committee. He has applied his knowledge to enhance MORU’s reference diagnostic capabilities and in the design and management of MORU’s biological containment level 2 and 3 laboratories in Bangkok and elsewhere in the network

Stuart has a special interest in the development, evaluation and validation of improved reference and point-of-care assays for the diagnosis of rickettsial illnesses, dengue and leptospirosis. He has published more than 180 journal articles and is on the editorial boards of 7 journals