Working with Biohazardous Materials

Biosafety program assessment includes examination of the agent(s), standard operating procedures and proposed laboratory equipment. This is conducted by the biological safety officer in collaboration with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). Prior to starting work, Principal Investigators are responsible for registering all proposed work with recombinant DNA and biological agents. 

Training programs in biosafety will help to ensure that appropriate containment of these materials is achieved. Through a strong partnership in research and safety, the institution can ensure the safety of all faculty, staff, students, patients, and visitors to our campuses.

List of Potentially Hazardous Biological Materials and Agents

A Biohazard Project Application must be submitted to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) prior to initiation of any project involving use of these materials or agents.

After examining the list, if you are not sure whether your materials are biohazardous or not, please contact 617-638-8830.

  1. Human, Animal, and Plant Pathogens:
    • viruses, including oncogenic and defective viruses (includes viral vectors)
    • Rikettsiae
    • Chlamydiae
    • bacteria, including those with drug resistance plasmids*
    • fungi
    • parasites
    • undefined or other infectious agents, such as prions
    • toxins (bacterial, fungal, plant)
  2. All human blood, blood components and products, tissues and body fluids
  3. Cultured cells (all human and non-human primates) and potentially infectious agents these cells may contain
  4. Infected animals and animal tissues
  5. Non-human primates and any tissues derived there from (can transmit Herpes B virus)
  6. Sheep and any tissues derived there from (can transmit Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q-fever). *Lab K-12 strains of E-coli are not included.

IBC Approval

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is a University-wide Committee responsible for reviewing and approving recombinant DNA research and biohazard projects. The committee sets containment levels in accordance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Guidelines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It also periodically reviews previously approved research projects for changes which would necessitate increasing or decreasing the Biosafety level.

Once a project has been approved, an approval letter is sent to the principal investigator; this letter lists the project’s IBC approval number(s), containment levels set by the IBC, project titles, and any additional requirements.

Autoclave Safety Guidelines

Read the autoclave safety guidelines on the research support site.