Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Research Involving:
  Recombinant and Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules
  Viral Vectors
  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
  Transgenic Organisms
  Genetically Engineered Organisms (CRISPR Technology)

  • VT's Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is the oversight body that approves and monitors research and teaching protocols involving
    • recombinant and synthetic nucleic acid molecules
    • viral vectors
    • genetically modified or transgenic animals (i.e., all species in the animal kingdom, including invertebrates), plants and microorganisms
  • The IBC also oversees research involving
    • Artificial gene transfer
    • Human gene transfer
    • Synthetic biology
  • Protocols for research projects of these types must be submitted to the IBC for review and approval, and for periodic renewal.
  • People must complete IBC-required training before beginning research work, and they must stay current with IBC-required training thereafter.
Primary Hazards In Recombinant Research Safety Considerations In Recombinant Research
Exposure to recombinant material from accidental injury, such as a needlestick. Reduce or eliminate the risk to health and safety of the people working with this material by:
  • Using primary containment (biosafety cabinet).
  • Utilizing sharps with safety features and disposing of sharps appropriately.
  • Using good work practices and appropriate PPE.
Loss of containment and release of recombinant material/ organisms, risking unknown or potentially deleterious impacts on the genomes of humans, agricultural plants/animals, natural flora/fauna, etc. Mitigate exposure risks by following NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules criteria, and by adhering to specific work and containment practices as determined by risk assessment.

Reporting An Exposure To/ Release Of Recombinant Material/Organism(S)

  1. Immediately notify:
    1. The Lab Director and/or Lab Manager
    2. The Animal Facility Manager/ Greenhouse Manager (if applicable)
    3. A Biosafety Officer (BSO) by telephone (preferred) or email:
    Biosafety OfficersTelephoneEmail
    Charlotte Waggoner540-231-5864ren@vt.edu
    Anna Kroner540-231-1122akroner@vt.edu
    Chris Wakley540-231-3361cwakley@vt.edu
    Shilpa Soni352-231-0976shilpa@vt.edu
  2. The BSO will acknowledge receipt of notification by communicating to the reporting person via phone or email, and will begin notifying other appropriate personnel and/or agencies.
  3. IMPORTANT: In the event of an exposure to/ release of recombinant material (e.g., rDNA/ synthetic nucleic acids/ transgenic or genetically modified organisms), the BSO must inform NIH without delay, thus IMMEDIATE reporting is required.
  4. The reporting person and the supervisor of the facility (e.g., Lab Director/ Lab Manager/ Animal Facility Manager/ Greenhouse Manager) must complete a VT Lab Incident Report and submit it to the BSO via email (preferred) or campus mail (MS 0423) as soon as possible.
  5. BSO will acknowledge receipt of this report via email.
  6. An Employer's Accident Report must be completed immediately by the supervisor per directions found on the link webpage.
  7. If the supervisor does not complete the report in a timely manner, injured/exposed individuals are encouraged to complete the Employer's Accident Report themselves. If a paper form is completed rather than the online form, submit the paper form to Teresa Lyons (tlyons@vt.edu or MS 0318).
  8. An NIH Incident Report must also be completed and submitted to the University Biosafety Officer, who reviews the report and submits it to the IBC and NIH.

NIH Containment Levels/ Biosafety Levels (BL) for Recombinant Research

  • See 'Biosafety Levels' in this website's topics list.

Guidance and Further Information: