What is Biosafety?
Biosafety is the maintenance of safe conditions in biological research to prevent harm to workers, non-laboratory organisms, or the environment.
The Biological Safety Team at the University of Chicago serves as a resource to investigators, staff, and students by providing training and guidance to laboratories working with hazardous biological materials. Our team of experts oversees all University-sponsored research involving recombinant DNA, microorganisms that are pathogenic to humans, animals, or plants, and other potentially biohazards material.
Our staff works closely with other research-related compliance offices to ensure that all ongoing research on the Hyde Park campus and the Howard Taylor Ricketts Laboratory at Argonne National Labs is conducted in a manner that minimizes risk to both laboratory personnel and the surrounding environment. Our staff also collaborates with UC Departments of Occupational Medicine and Infectious Diseases to appropriately manage laboratory exposures to potentially infectious agents or materials and to monitor laboratory staff for symptoms indicative of potentially-acquired laboratory infections.
Services and Responsibilities
- Conducts preliminary reviews and risk assessments of all Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) protocols upon submission
- Assists Principal Investigators in performing risk assessments and completing IBC protocol forms (upon request)
- Advises laboratory personnel on biosafety matters
- Conducts annual laboratory inspections for BSL2 and BSL3
- Provides guidance on rDNA guidelines and associated regulations as well as other aspects of genetic engineering, including Dual Use Research of Concern.
- Performs initial biosafety inspections of laboratories using rDNA and/or pathogenic agents to ensure that labs are equipped and the investigators are prepared for research as described in their IBC protocols.
- Provides appropriate biohazard signage for posting in laboratories using biological agents
- Provides guidance on the design of biocontainment laboratories and the purchase of containment equipment such as Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs).
- Recommends methods of handling, transporting, decontaminating and disposing of biohazardous materials
- Manages the UChicago Select Agent Program.
- Through laboratory inspections, provides assistance with lab-specific research safety risk assessment, recommends safe laboratory procedures, advises regarding containment devices and equipment, and confirms regulatory compliance.
- Prepares and provides basic biosafety training via classroom and web-based formats.
- Collaborates with UC Departments of Occupational Medicine and Infectious Diseases to appropriately manage laboratory exposures to potentially infectious agents or materials and to monitor laboratory staff for symptoms indicative of potential laboratory acquired infections.
Emergency and Spill Response
Accidents are bound to happen in laboratories and it is our responsibility to provide you with UChicago's emergency and spill response procedures. You can find the Biological Spill Response on our Safety Manual page.