Biological Safety

Biosafety is the principles and practices employed to protect laboratory personnel and the environment from exposure or infection while working with living organisms, biological materials, or infectious agents. Key to this protection is strict adherence to standard microbiological practices and techniques. Laboratory personnel working with infectious agents or potentially infected materials must be made aware of the potential hazards and must be trained in the techniques required for the safe handling such material. Key references for Biosafety principles are the RFUMS Biosafety Manual,   the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) and the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules.​

Members of the Public interested in further information regarding the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) may contact the RFUMS Environmental, Health and Safety Department at (847) 578-3422.

​​​Biohazard Picture.jpg

International symbol for
​biohazard or biological hazard​​


Training is on-line and located on the University D2L web site. The online training provides an overview of:

  • ​components of a biohazard risk assessment
  • risk group classifications
  • biosafety levels
  • regulations for recombinant DNA research
  • select agents and toxins
  • administrative and environmental controls to mitigate exposure to biohazards
  • decontamination and spill response
  • management of biohazardous waste

Contact EHS (X3422) for instructions on how to register for the Biosafety Training class. 

Shipment of Biological Materials

It is the goal of RFUMS to ensure the safe transportation of biological materials while complying with all applicable regulations. Shipments of biological materials may be regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). International shipments may also necessitate importation or exportation requirements such as permits for the shipments. Contact Shipping/Receiving (X8666) if you need to arrange the shipping of biological materials.

IBC and Protocol Review

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)  reviews and authorizes research involving recombinant DNA and hazardous biological materials in order to safeguard the health and safety of RFUMS personnel and students, the community, and the environment. IBC, together with the University Biological Safety Officer (Judith Ptasienski), work to insure compliance with applicable federal and state regulations and guidelines, granting agency guidelines, as well as University policies and procedures.  Before beginning any research involving recombinant DNA (including projects that may be deemed "exempt" under the NIH Guidelines), research projects must be registered with the Biological Safety Officer (Biosafety form). The registration process includes:

  • ​determining the Risk Group (RG1-RG4)
  • determining the Biosafety Level (BSL-1, BSL-2)
  • determining the level of review or approval (i.e. additional review by IBC, IRB, RACK review, NIH director approval)
  • coordinating further actions based on the above determinations

Principal Investigators (PI) must also complete the Institutional Research Safety Report form (IRSR-1) before initiation of all internally or externally funded research projects. NOTE: The registration process is not complete for those recombinant DNA projects that meet the definition of the Non-Exempt categories referenced in the NIH Guidelines(Section III), until the IBC Chairman notifies the PI that work can begin on the project. 

Animal Safety

In accordance with recommendations set forth in the NIH's "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" (National Academy Press) and "Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals" (National Research Council), RFUMS has developed a program of occupational health and safety for individuals who have animal contact in the course of their employment or studies. Guidelines for Health and Safety for Animal Researchers details policies and procedures designed to reduce the wide range of risks to personnel associated with animal care and use. 


Further information is available in the following references: