Senior Biosafety Officer, Select Agent Alternate Responsible Official
Allen Helm received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Microbiology studying Salmonella chromosome structure from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was also a teaching assistant for both lecture and laboratory classes related to microbial genetics. He later trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University where he studied physiology, genetic recombination, and pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In 2009, he joined the Biosafety Program at the University of Chicago as a Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence biosafety fellow under the guidance of Joe Kanabrocki.
In 2010, he became a Biosafety Officer at UChicago, but was later promoted to Senior Biosafety Officer in 2018. Allen interacts regularly with faculty and staff to assist them with biosafety concerns and laboratory inspections. He is a voting member of the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and Select Agent IBC (SA-IBC), which oversee research with recombinant/synthetic DNA, pathogenic microorganisms, and biological toxins. He also performs initial reviews of protocols submitted to those committees. He helps develop and conduct training for investigators working with recombinant or synthetic DNA, pathogenic microorganisms, viral vectors, and biological toxins. He also conducts biosafety lectures for UChicago faculty, staff, students, visiting scientists, and visiting students. Additionally, Allen serves as a voting member on the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Allen is an active member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), American Biological Safety Association (ABSA International), and the Midwest Area Biosafety Network (MABioN). He is listed on the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists via ASM and has certification as a Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) and a Certified Biological Safety Professional (CBSP) via ABSA International.