Research with biohazards

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) must approve any teaching or research project that involves:

  • Use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, including transgenic animals or plants.
  • Use of human, animal, or plant pathogens (for example, bacteria, viruses, prions, parasites).
  • Plant pathogens not indigenous to Iowa (e.g., bacteria, viruses, parasites).
  • Use of biological toxins.
  • Administration of experimental biological products to animals.
  • Field releases of plant pests or genetically modified organisms.

The Office of Research Ethics (ORE) oversees the IBC.

Acquiring select agents and toxins

Before research may proceed, any principal investigator (PI) who intends to use, transfer, or store select agents and toxins must first contact the Responsible Official (RO) at EH&S to register personnel and facilities. A security risk assessment of personnel and facilities will be conducted. After the registration and risk assessment have been submitted to the Federal Select Agent Program (CDC), an inspection may be performed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and/or CDC.

Any PI possessing less than the aggregate amount of toxin required to register with the Federal Select Agent Program must contact the RO to discuss ISU’s requirements for an exempt amount of toxin.

Clinical or diagnostic laboratories are exempt from registration with the Federal Select Agent Program if the identification of such agents or toxins is immediately reported to APHIS or CDC. Within seven days after identification, the agents must be transferred or inactivated. The laboratory director is responsible for notifying the appropriate authorities.

Laboratory personnel responsibilities

In general, all laboratory personnel are responsible for:

  • Controlling access to areas where hazardous materials are used and stored.
  • Knowing who is in the laboratory and asking for identification if unsure.
  • Knowing what materials are brought into and removed from the laboratory.
  • Reporting any undocumented visitors, missing biological, chemical, or radioactive materials, unusual or threatening phone calls, etc., to the laboratory supervisor, EH&S, and the university's Department of Public Safety.

Section VI of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (CDC) addresses biosecurity.