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Biological Safety

Vigilance about biological safety protects investigators, other Rush employees and the community at large from potential hazards of biomedical research. Our Biological Safety Program monitors the research use of recombinant nucleic acids, pathogens and toxins that researchers use in our facilities. The Program evaluates the level of health-related risk using a peer committee structure. The Biological Safety Program’s charge is to reduce that risk in compliance with all pertinent governmental regulations and guidelines.

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Our Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) supervises any research that uses recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid (rsNA) technology. All such research must comply with the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (2019). Researchers planning to use rsNA technology must apply for and obtain IBC approval in advance. This committee periodically reviews both clinical and nonclinical research to ensure that the newest safety standards are upheld. The IBC also must review and approve amendments that change rsNA agents, protocols or personnel in projects that it oversees.

Biohazard (BHZD) Committee

The BHZD Committee reviews research that uses pathogens of Risk Group 2 and Risk Group 3, classifications the National Institutes of Health (NIH) use to rate the relative hazard of infectious agents or toxins in the laboratory, with Risk Group 1 being the least hazardous. Rush does not allow research involving Risk Group 4 pathogens, the most hazardous group. This committee also supervises research involving biological toxins, nanoparticles, prions and prion-like synthetic particles, and use of the chemical neurotoxin MPTP. In addition to the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) safety and compliance training required of all IBC and BHZD project workers, Rush MPTP workers must pass written safety evaluations from the Biological Safety Officer (BSO), from the veterinary staff of the Comparative Research Center and from Rush’s Occupational Safety department. MPTP workers also sign an Informed Consent form, documenting that they are aware of the risks of working with this chemical. MPTP laboratories keep a rapid-uptake monoamine oxidase inhibitor on hand to mitigate the effects of possible accidental worker exposure.

Dual-Use Research of Concern (DURC) Committee

The DURC Committee monitors life sciences research that produces knowledge, technologies or products that could pose a significant public health threat if they fell into the wrong hands. The United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (2014) is the basis for this oversight process.

Application to the Biological Safety Committees

IBC and BHZD applications for permission to conduct research with hazardous materials must be submitted online via the Master Project branch of the Rush Research Portal, while DURC applications employ a separate Federal form. Rush researchers will be able to access the Master Project branch of Portal only after successful completion of a dedicated training session. Screening questions will direct and allow the creation of an IBC or BHZD application on the Portal, if either of those is required.

Biological Safety Officer

The Biological Safety Officer (BSO) is your liaison to all three of the Biological Safety Program’s committees. The BSO will assist you in applying for approvals, obtaining and documenting appropriate CITI training, conduct literature research for our committees, and inspect both new and established labs.

Contact Us

Ed R. Blazek, PhD

Biological Safety Officer

Christine VanTubbergen, MPH

Program Manager