The biological safety team at the University of Chicago provides training and guidance to investigators, staff, and students performing laboratory research with hazardous biological materials. Our team of experts oversees all University-sponsored research involving recombinant and synthetic DNA, microorganisms that pose hazards to humans, animals, or plants, biological toxins, and other potentially biohazardous material.
Our staff works closely with other research-related compliance offices to ensure that all ongoing research on the Hyde Park campus and at the Howard Taylor Ricketts Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory is conducted in a way that minimizes risk to both laboratory personnel and the surrounding environment.
All researchers must review the University’s biological spill protocols (PDF) prior to working with biological materials.
Our services and responsibilities
- Conduct preliminary reviews and risk assessments of all Institutional Biosafety Committee protocols upon submission
- Assist researchers with performing risk assessments and completing Institutional Biosafety Committee applications via the AURA system
- Advise laboratory personnel on biosafety matters
- Conduct annual laboratory inspections to ensure compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) and the National Institutes of Health's Guidelines for Research Involving Recombitant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules
- Provide guidance on recombitant or synthetic DNA guidelines and associated regulations, as well as other aspects of genetic engineering, including dual use research of concern (research whose results can be reasonably anticipated to be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat)
- Provide appropriate biohazard signage for posting in laboratories using biological agents
- Provide guidance on the design of biocontainment laboratories and the purchase of containment equipment, such as biological safety cabinets
- Recommend methods of handling, transporting, decontaminating, and disposing of biohazardous materials
- Review material transfer agreements involving research samples that contain potentially biohazardous material
- Manage the UChicago Select Agent Program
- Assess laboratory safety risk and recommend safe procedures, containment devices, and equipment
- Prepare and provide basic biosafety training online and in the classroom
- Collaborate with UChicago Medicine Occupational Health and the Section of Infectious Diseases and Global Health to manage laboratory exposures to potentially infectious agents or materials, and to monitor laboratory staff for symptoms of potential laboratory-acquired infections
- Maintain agent profile forms for biohazards used for research at UChicago
- Keep laboratory staff informed of the University's biological spill protocols (PDF)