Institutional Biosafety Committee

The University of Chicago has established two Institutional Biosafety Committees:

  • The Select Agent IBC is responsible for the review and approval of all research at the University of Chicago involving the use of CDC or USDA Select Agents, and for all research involving biohazardous materials, (including recombinant agents) conducted at the Howard Taylor Ricketts Laboratory, whether involving select agents or not.
  • The Hyde Park Campus IBC is responsible for review and approval of any other research conducted with biohazardous agents, as defined below. Regardless of its source of financial support, all research with biohazards must be approved by the IBC and conform to IBC policies and procedures.

The University of Chicago lacks facilities requiring BSL4 or ABSL4 containment. Therefore, research requiring such containment cannot be performed at the University of Chicago. Investigators wishing to perform research requiring BL3 or ABSL3 containment are advised to consult with the University of Chicago Office of Biological Safety prior to grant preparation or IBC protocol submission.

Charge of the committee

The IBC is charged with the responsibility for review, approval and surveillance of all research at the University of Chicago involving the use of biohazards. Biohazards are defined as:

  • Recombinant/synthetic DNA (r/sDNA) with an ability to replicate within a living cell
  • Agents infectious to humans, animals or plants
  • Other genetically altered organisms and agents
  • Certain biological toxins (determination made based upon the LD50 of the toxin in question)

Additionally, cells, blood, organs or other tissues harvested directly from humans require IBC approval only if they are used in the following manner:

  • As a recipient or source for r/s DNA experiments
  • As a recipient/host for or source of a pathogenic and/or genetically modified microorganism
  • As a recipient of biological toxins in vitro

Services and responsibilities

  • Reviewing research conducted at the University of Chicago involving biohazardous agents or recombinant/synthetic nucleic acids for compliance with the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines) and the policies of the University of Chicago IBC
  • Notifying the Principal Investigator of the results of the IBC’s review and approval
  • Lowering containment levels for certain experiments in which DNA from Risk Group 2, Risk Group 3, or Restricted Agents is Cloned into Nonpathogenic Prokaryotic or Lower Eukaryotic Host-Vector Systems
  • Setting containment levels for experiments involving whole animals and experiments involving whole plants
  • Periodically reviewing recombinant/synthetic DNA research conducted at the institution to ensure compliance with the NIH Guidelines
  • Reporting any significant problems with or violation of the NIH Guidelines and any significant research-related accidents or illnesses to the appropriate institutional official and NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA) within 30 days, unless the IBC determines that a report has already been filed by the PI


Both IBCs have regularly scheduled monthly meetings. Additional special meetings are called as necessary. These meetings are not open to anyone other than members of the IBC, staff of the IBC Office and Office of Biosafety or individuals who have received permission from the IBC chair.

UChicagoSocial: Office of Research Safety