Biosafety, as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the discipline addressing the safe handling and containment of infectious microorganisms and hazardous biological materials. There are four biosafety level (BSL) risk groups– BSL1, BSL2, BSL3, and BSL4. The higher the level, the more risk associated with that biological agent. Therefore, each level has specific containment guidelines to ensure those working with the biological hazard are kept safe. See RIT Biosafety Level Table on the right side of this webpage.
The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) to oversee all biohazards and infectious agent projects regardless of the source of funding and/or if they conducted on campus or sponsored by RIT. This committee is comprised of individuals from applicable disciplines on campus as well as required non-RIT individuals with appropriate expertise. This committee ensures the implementation of policies and manages potential hazards related to biological materials at RIT.
The mission of the Institutional Biosafety Committee is to:
- Ensure that all recombinant DNA research activities at the Rochester Institute of Technology comply with Department of Health and Human Services/Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules ( “NIH Guidelines”)
- Ensure that protocols for all research undertaken at RIT, which use or produce biohazardous organisms, comply with the applicable NIH guidelines. These protocols must be reviewed and IBC-committee approved to ensure that personnel, the environment and public safety are properly protected.
Per the CDC/NIH “Biosafety Microbiological Laboratories” Appendix H—Working with Human, NHP and Other Mammalian Cells and Tissues: Human and other primate cells should be handled using BSL-2 practices and containment. All work should be performed in a biosafety cabinet and all material decontaminated by autoclaving or disinfection before discarding.
Biosafety Project Initiation
Principal Investigators (PIs) must contact the RIT IBC to gain approval prior to commencing any research and/or teaching that deals with recombinant DNA or potentially hazardous biological materials. See process steps noted below.
Principal Investigator - Project Approval Process Steps
- PIs needs to contact the RIT IBC prior to commencing work with biohazardous materials.
- PIs needs to complete the Project Registration Form.
- The completed registration form is assigned to a commitee member or it can be reviewed by the committee as a whole.
- IBC will assign an initial BMBL Risk Group Level to each project. (Use ABSA Risk Group link on right side of the webpage)
- Lab inspections will be conducted by the RIT EHS Department to review the project and lab practices. All inspection findings must be closed prior to the IBC final review (Lab Inspection Form )
- IBC committee will discuss the results of the lab inspection and the registration form to assign an official BioSafety Level. (NOTE: Currently, only Biosafety Level 1 and 2 work is permitted at RIT.)
- IBC Chair will forward any questions, concerns, suggestions to the PI based on the evaluation thus far. IBC committee will evaulate the PI's response.
- IBC Chair will send an approval or rejection letter to the PI for the specific project that was reviewed. The IBC Chair will also establish an expiration date for each project.
- PIs will need to reapply with the IBC Committee if:
- the expiration date has elapsed; or
- there are changes to a formerly IBC approved project. Noteworthy changes include those which would result in an increased potential for exposure to the biological materials.
Biosafety Committee Responsibilities
The IBC is composed of various members with specific responsibilities with regard to biosafety requirements at RIT. The following provides a general description of the committee membership.
Vice President for Research
Oversees the Rochester Institute of Technology Institutional Biosafety Committee.
The IBC Chair has overall responsibility for the functioning of the committee.
Biological Safety Officer
The responsibilities of the Biological Safety Officer (BSO) include but are not limited to performing periodic inspections, developing emergency plans, and providing technical advice.
The duties of the Program Coordinator include but are not limited to maintaining records of IBC documentation, providing clerical support to the IBC Chair and BSO, and retaining a non-voting position with the IBC. Contact the coordinator for IBC meeting information if interested in attending.
Individual Users are faculty, research assistants, technicians, and students who have contact with any biologically hazardous material. Before beginning work users shall have been instructed in the handling and use of biologically hazardous materials and biosafety principles. Documentation of this instruction shall be kept on file with project documentation.
RIT’s Environmental Health and Safety Department shall make all efforts to ensure that users of hazardous biological material are provided with the necessary information, materials, and training that will enable them to work with these materials in a safe manner.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
For any questions, contact the RIT IBC via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) OR the EH&S Department at (585) 475-2040.