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Office of Research Assurances Institutional Biosafety Committee

Potentially biohazardous materials

Including—but not limited to—materials in all categories below

The phrase, “potentially biohazardous material” refers to all biological materials that the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) oversees. These materials are categorized below.

Generally speaking, the phrase encompasses all infectious organisms, (bacteria, chlamydiae, fungi, parasites, prions, rickettsias, and viruses) that can cause disease in humans, animals, or plants, or cause significant environmental or agricultural impact. Also included are materials that may harbor infectious organisms, such as human or primate tissues, fluids, cells, or cell cultures.

Biohazardous material categories

If your project involves material(s) included in any of these categories, it must be approved by the IBC before you initiate research.

Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (r/sNA)

Including genetically modified organisms in which recombinant DNA or RNA is introduced (both heritable and inheritable changes)

Genetically modified organisms

Including, but not limited to:

  • Animals, plants, invertebrates, and/or other organisms created by WSU employees or in/on WSU property
  • Genetically modified whole plants, even those commercially available and not requiring permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS)
  • Transgenic field trials, any genetically modified organism to be introduced into the environment by WSU personnel and/or on WSU property. Includes planting of deregulated items* in the field.
  • Field testing of plants engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial compounds

* Deregulated transgenic items include: bioengineered seed from agricultural products companies. Companies work with USDA/APHIS to ensure safety of transgenic plants that USDA has deregulated. Some of these plants are still subject to refuge requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Companies that supply these seeds must adhere to guidelines for planting, treatment, harvest, subsequent seed destruction, volunteer monitoring, and more.

Any organisms requiring federal permits

Including, but not limited to, permits from any of the following:

  • USDA-APHIS
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Pathogens/infectious agents

Human, animal, plant, and environmental, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Experiments using human or animal pathogens as host-vector systems
  • Experiments in which DNA from human or animal pathogens (see NIH Guidelines for a list) is cloned in nonpathogenic prokaryotic or lower eukaryotic host-vector systems
  • Experiments involving the use of infectious animal or plant DNA or RNA viruses of the defective animal or plant DNA or RNA viruses in the presence of helper virus in tissue culture systems

Select biological agents and toxins (CDC and USDA)

Possession, use, or transfer of select biological agents and toxins entails additional requirements. Contact the Office of Research Assurances for information.

Human & non-human primate cells

Including all cell lines. Tissue, blood, and potentially infectious fluids. For details, see section XVII of the IBC Manual (pdf).

Animals or vectors known or suspected to be reservoirs of Risk Group 2 or 3 infectious agents requiring BSL 2 or 3 containment

When such work increases potential exposure risks to personnel or other animals

Oncogenic viruses used in conjunction with humans or animals

Not sure if your project involves a biohazard?

Materials may be defined as potentially biohazardous even if they are not listed in National Institute of Health guidelines. Some materials and organisms not traditionally considered biohazardous may fall under IBC oversight. Such organisms may include genetically modified whole plants that are commercially available and do not require USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) permits.

The IBC serves as an advisory committee for University projects involving possible biohazards that do not appear to fall into one of the areas listed below. If it is unclear whether a material constitutes a potential biohazard, consult the biosafety officer or the director of the Office of Research Assurances.