Top U.S. lab regulator replaced in wake of incidents with bioterror pathogens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has replaced its longtime director of national lab regulation in the wake of several high-profile incidents involving bioterror pathogens and an internal review that identified areas of improvement for the oversight program, USA TODAY has learned.

The CDC, in a statement Tuesday, declined to say why it replaced Robbin Weyant on Nov. 9 as director of the agency’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins, which regulates hundreds of U.S. labs working with the organisms that cause anthrax, plague, Ebola and other deadly diseases that are deemed to pose bioterror risks.

The change occurred 18 days after the completion of an internal CDC review of the national lab oversight program that was launched after a USA TODAY NETWORK investigation prompted congressional probes and revealed CDC’s inspectors have allowed labs to keep experimenting despite failing to meet key safety requirements on inspection after inspection, sometimes for years.

Weyant had served as select-agent director since 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile, and he now lists his current job with CDC as a senior adviser in the agency lab safety office. Weyant also declined to comment on the reason for his job change, but said in an email: “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to contribute to CDC’s new office dedicated to supporting laboratory safety.”

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