Biological Safety

The purpose of the University's Biological Safety Program is to assist Principal Investigators and research staff safely handle biological agents in the laboratory by implementing a risk assessment process analyzing the agents’ specific risk factors. All agents in the Laboratory or facility must be listed on the Biological Agents Registration Form must be completed. All agents in the laboratory or facility must be listed on this form.

The risk assessment process will determine the Biosafety level for each agent in the laboratory.

The levels are designed to minimize the risk of exposure to infectious or potentially infectious biological agents throught the implementation of good laboratory practices and correct microbiological technique. They are designated in ascending order, by degree of protection provided to personnel, the environment, and the community. Standard microbiological practices are common to all laboratories. Special microbiological practices enhance worker safety, environmental protection, and address the risk of handling agents requiring increasing levels of containment.

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to assign the appropriate biosafety level to the agent(s) used in the laboratory, in order to implement the necessary practices and to design the laboratory according to the requirements of the specific biosafety level:

  • Biosafety Level 1 (BSL1)
  • Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2)
  • Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3)
  • Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4)

Implementing and adhering to the necessary safety practices is critical to the safety and well-being of all laboratory personnel.

Mississippi State University produced a short film titled “Lab Wars” to highlight the importance of understanding biosafety concepts and following safety practices when working with biological agents or material.

For more detailed information on the proper risk assessment process with biological agents and the classification of biosafety levels, refer to the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Edition.


RESEARCH WITH ANIMALS

When working with animals, the risk assessment process must take into consideration the animal's behavior and physiology as key risk factors. These additional factors convey the need to classify research with animals and infectious agents into animal biosafety levels. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to assign the animal biosafety level:

  • Animal Biosafety Level 1 (ABSL1)
  • Animal Biosafety Level 2 (ABSL2)
  • Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL3)
  • Animal Biosafety Level 4 (ABSL4)

To obtain approval to conduct animal research, it is the Principal Investigator's responsibility to contact the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). For more detailed information visit the IACUC website or by calling (305) 243-2311.

For more in depth information on the proper risk assessment process involving animal research with biological agents and the determination of biosafety levels, please refer to the  Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Edition.

RECOMBINANT DNA RESEARCH

Compliance with the NIH Guidelines requires Principal Investigators working with Recombinant DNA (rDNA) to conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine proper containment of an agent. A through risk assessment takes into account the risk group of the agent, which determines the containment level required for the agent.

  • Risk Group 1 (RG1)
  • Risk Group 2 (RG2)
  • Risk Group 3 (RG3)
  • Risk Group 4 (RG4)

To obtain approval to conduct rDNA research at the University of Miami is granted by IBC. For more information or assistance with rDNA rekated work visit the IBC website or call (305) 243-2311.

For more in depth information on the proper risk assessment process with rDNA biosafety levels as well as classification in biosafety levels, refer to the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Edition.

For more information on the Biological Safety Program at the University of Miami or on any issues associated with biological agents, please contact us.