Biological Safety Program

The Biological Safety Program is responsible for providing support to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston students and personnel concerning the recognition, evaluation, and control of chemical, biological, and physical hazards. Our goal is to provide the safest work environment for all UTHealth employees and the surrounding health science center community, as well as minimizing risk to the environment and property.

The Biological Safety Program is located at CYF in room: CYF G102. They may be reached by phone at: (713) 500-8100 or fax at: (713) 500-8170


Notice: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Releases “United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern”

Release Date: September 24, 2014
Effective Date: September 24, 2015

Despite its value and benefits, certain types of research conducted for legitimate purposes can
be utilized for both benevolent and harmful purposes. Such research is called “dual use
research.” Dual use research of concern is a subset of dual use research defined as: “life
sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to
provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to
pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety,
agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security.”
The United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use
Research of Concern articulates the practices and procedures required to ensure that dual use
research of concern is identified at the institutional level and risk mitigation measures are
implemented as necessary.

The following agents and categories of experiments are specifically listed in the new policy as follows:

Agents and toxins:

a) Avian influenza virus (highly pathogenic)
b) Bacillus anthracis
c) Botulinum neurotoxin
d) Burkholderia mallei
e) Burkholderia pseudomallei
f) Ebola virus
g) Foot-and-mouth disease virus
h) Francisella tularensis
i) Marburg virus
j) Reconstructed 1918 Influenza virus
k) Rinderpest virus
l) Toxin-producing strains of Clostridium botulinum
m) Variola major virus
n) Variola minor virus
o) Yersinia pestis

Categories of experiments:

a) Enhances the harmful consequences of the agent or toxin
b) Disrupts immunity or the effectiveness of an immunization against the agent or toxin
without clinical and/or agricultural justification
c) Confers to the agent or toxin resistance to clinically and/or agriculturally useful
prophylactic or therapeutic interventions against that agent or toxin or facilitates
their ability to evade detection methodologies
d) Increases the stability, transmissibility, or the ability to disseminate the agent or
toxin
e) Alters the host range or tropism of the agent or toxin
f) Enhances the susceptibility of a host population to the agent or toxin
g) Generates or reconstitutes an eradicated or extinct agent or toxin listed in 6.2.1,
above

If you work with any of these agents or toxins and your research involves any of the above listed categories of experiments, please contact Environmental Health and Safety immediately at 713-500-8100.

We encourage all researchers to learn more about dual use research and the new policy at: http://www.phe.gov/s3/dualuse/Pages/default.aspx


Ensuring Biosafety and Biosecurity in U.S. Laboratories

The White House recently issued a memorandum to all federal facilities working with potentially infectious organisms to conduct a “safety stand down” to ensure that existing safety programs  are adequate to protect both workers and the public, and to ensure that no residual unknown specimens that might represent a risk remain in laboratories. (see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/08/28/ensuring-biosafety-and-biosecurity-us-laboratories )
The memorandum also recommends that all federal grant recipients review their safety plans to ensure the protection of all students, faculty, staff, and the general public. The American Society for Microbiology (and others) has also echoed this request. ( see: https://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/99-policy/policy/93059-freezer-8-14  )

UTHealth is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy working and learning environment for all of our constituents and the public at large. The university maintains a vibrant Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) department that exists to help the UTHealth community “go home as healthy and as safe as they arrived”. The EH&S Department is provided with expert scientific guidance by four institutional safety committees, each consisting of faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines from across the Health Science Center.  We are grateful for the work of these dedicated colleagues and our EH&S staff.

We are writing now to encourage you to take a moment to review your existing lab safety programs and procedures with all of your students and staff, and to review inventories of infectious agents and toxins in your laboratory(ies) - regardless of whether they involve recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids - stored in freezers, cold rooms, and/or other locations to ensure that all unknown or unneeded materials are disposed of properly. If any assistance is needed with disposal, please do not hesitate to call EH&S.


Institutional Biosafety Committee (Biological Agents, Recombinant or Synthetic DNA Molecules)

IBC Protocol Submission

Online Protocol Submission Interface
User's Manual for Online Protocol Submission interface (PDF)
PI Guide for Modifications to the Institutional Biosafety Committee Protocol (PDF)

rDNA Guidance

NIH Guidelines for PI’sPrincipal Investigator Responsibilities for the Use and Classification of rDNA Research
NIH/OBA rDNA Guidelines

IBC Committee Information

Committee Membership
Committee Guidelines
Policy and Procedures (PDF)

Institutional Biosafety Committee meets on the first Thursday of every month.  Meetings are open to the public, but location and times may vary.  Please contact Environmental Health & Safety (713-500-8100) for further information.

Biological Safety Manual, and Guidance Documents

UTHSC-H Institutional Biological Safety Manual(pdf)
UTHSC-H Biological Safety Cabinets Guidance Document
UTHSC-H Indoor Air Quality - Mold

Laboratory Safety Audits

Biological Safety Training

Initial Laboratory and Bloodborne Pathogens Training* required by UT System
Annual Laboratory and Bloodborne Pathogens Training *required annually
Infectious Substance Shipping Training -*required every two years
Institutional Biosafety Committees Annual Training 2014


Select Agents and Toxins Reference Pages

CDC Select Agents Program Page (CDC site)
Select Agent List
Regulations: Final Rule and Information for Transferring or Receiving (pdf)
CDC Bioterrorism Web Page


Useful Biological Safety Links

State

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

Regional

Southern Biosafety Association -ABSA Affiliate

National & International

American Biological Safety Association (ABSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health Canada's Biological MSDS
World Health Organization

Biological Safety Staff

Rachel Gamble DrPH, CBSP, Safety Manager

Rachel.Gamble@uth.tmc.edu
(713) 500-8161
CYF 
B.S., Oklahoma State University (Biological Sciences)
M.S., Oklahoma State University (Food Science)
DrPH University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health

Kristin King, Safety Specialist

Kristin.G.King@uth.tmc.edu
(713)500-8163
CYF
B.S., University of Texas at Austin (Microbiology)

Brett Haltiwanger, Ph.D., CBSP, Safety Specialist

Brett.M.Haltiwanger@uth.tmc.edu
(713) 500-8162
CYF 
BS:, Sweet Briar College (Biology)
PhD:, Thomas Jefferson University (Microbiology and Molecular Virology) 

Shalaka Kotkar, Ph.D., Safety Specialist

Shalaka.Kotkar@uth.tmc.edu
(713) 500-8166
CYF
B.S.; St. Xavier’s College, India (Microbiology & Biochemistry)
Ph.D.; Purdue University (Cellular and Molecular Microbiology)