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

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: )
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:  )

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 2013

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


Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)


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
(713) 500-8161
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
B.S., University of Texas at Austin (Microbiology)

Brett Haltiwanger, Ph.D., CBSP, Safety Specialist
(713) 500-8162
BS:, Sweet Briar College (Biology)
PhD:, Thomas Jefferson University (Microbiology and Molecular Virology) 

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