Institutional Biosafety Program

The Icahn School of Medicine Institutional Biosafety Program (IBP) monitors all laboratory activities involving recombinant DNA and synthetic DNA molecules as required by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines).

The Committee reviews submissions of proposed research and evaluates the Risk Group, Biological Safety Level, and the appropriate NIH-OBA Section III designation (Research that requires notification to the Biosafety Officer alone; notification to the Committee prior to, or simultaneous with initiation of work; approval by the Committee before initiation, and approval by the Committee and the Office of Biotechnology Assessment before initiation.

Please forward Biosafety Risk Assessment Forms and Sponsor's Brochure three full weeks before the meeting date by Fax to: 212-241-6695 or by scanned attachment to

About Us

Biosafety as a branch of microbiology has an old and a more recent beginning. Some aspects of Biosafety were apparent very early in microbiological research conducted in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. Other aspects eluded recognition as is evidenced by the following information taken from the introduction of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories:

Microbiological laboratories are special, often unique work environments that may pose identifiable infectious disease risks to persons in or near them. Infections have been contracted in the laboratory throughout the history of microbiology. Published reports around the turn of the century described laboratory-associated cases of typhoid, cholera, glanders, brucellosis, and tetanus.1 In 1941, Meyer and Eddie2 published a survey of 74 laboratory-associated brucellosis infections that had occurred in the United States, and concluded that the "handling of cultures or specimens or the inhalation of dust containing Brucella organisms is eminently dangerous to laboratory workers." A number of cases were attributed to carelessness or poor technique in the handling of infectious materials.

In 1949, Sulkin and Pike3 published the first in a series of surveys of laboratory-associated infections. They summarized 222 viral infections, 21 of which were fatal. In at least a third of the cases, the probable source of infection was considered to be associated with the handling of infected animals and tissues. Known accidents were recorded in 27 (12%) of the reported cases...

This survey was updated in 1965,5 adding 641 new or previously unreported cases, and again in 1976,6 summarizing a cumulative total of 3,921 cases. Brucellosis, typhoid, tularemia, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis were the most commonly reported infections. Fewer than 20% of all cases were associated with a known accident. Exposure to infectious aerosols was considered to be a plausible but unconfirmed source of infection for the more than 80% of the reported cases in which the infected person had "worked with the agent..." In his 1979 review,20 Pike concluded that "the knowledge, the techniques, and the equipment to prevent most laboratory infections are available."

[The] fifth edition of the BMBL continues to specifically describe combinations of microbiological practices, laboratory facilities, and safety equipment, and to recommend their use in four categories or biosafety levels of laboratory operation with selected agents infectious to humans.

The more recent beginning came with the development of the NIH Guidelines in response to the flurry of "gene splicing" activity performed in plasmids and E. coli in the mid-70s. The Guidelines were developed to control the inadvertent or deliberate creation of novel microorganisms with harmful or dangerous properties not encountered in wild type variants.

Signs for Principal Investigator Use

Following provides you signage you can download and print for PI use: