University of Hawai‘i
Research Compliance

About Biological Safety

What is the Biological Safety Program?

The Biological Safety Program (BSP) ensures the protection of faculty, support staff, students by providing training and advisement through best practices; the general public, and Hawaii’s natural environment from the exposure to deleterious agents that are biological (including Select Agents and toxins), microorganisms, and recombinant genetic biomaterials which may be considered infectious and transmitted through various means of dispersal.

In addition, the BSP administers the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). The IBC is responsible for ensuring that research, testing, and instruction on biological materials that involve potentially infectious agents and recombinant genetic biomaterials are assessed by regular registration reviews and on-site monitoring of laboratory and field activities of new and ongoing use.

In collaboration with the Environmental Health and Safety Office (ESHO) and various campuses health specialists and their departmental officials, the BSP ensures that biomaterial activities have registered inventory declarations, permitting, and on-site monitoring of laboratory and field activities of new and ongoing biomaterial use.

UH Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Central to the Biosafety Program, is the Institutional Biosafety Committee, generally known as the “IBC”.

The University’s IBC is composed of faculty and support staff volunteers from various departments and units within the Manoa campus and community colleges. The IBC’s membership also includes volunteers from the community at-large and State of Hawaii government. All volunteers have a keen interest in ensuring biological safety and practices in the laboratory, field research, and University’s research conducted abroad. The expertise of the IBC volunteers is vast, in that, they include but are not limited to humans and vertebrate animal subjects; plants; and environmental such as soil, water, and biological wastes; and developing technologies that include evaluation or depend on the use of a biological agent component.

The IBC’s primary objective is to ensure the protection of University personnel which includes its students, faculty, and support staff; the Hawaii general public; and the local environment from the potential exposure to deleterious agents that are biological (including Select Agents and toxins), microorganisms, recombinant genetic and synthetic nucleic acid originated, and other potentially harmful biological materials.

In order to accomplish the aforementioned objective, the IBC in collaboration with the Biosafety Officer through monthly assessments of research registrations and annual on-site inspections critically evaluate laboratory and biological safety practices; reviews and approves policies, procedures, training, programs and facilities pursuant to the safe use of biohazardous materials, including regulated animal and plant pathogens, biological toxins, and recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.

Researcher Responsibilities

Faculty investigators and instructors, students, and research support staff are required to comply by securing a biosafety assessment to determine whether an IBC registration approval is required to commence with any new research project or instructional activity.  IBC registration approval pertains to, but is not necessary limited to the use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, biological materials (human and animal blood, body fluids, tissue, etc.) vertebrate animal, human, and plant pathogens, and imported live biological materials.

Continuance of ongoing research studies or instructional activities that involve the usage of aforementioned biological materials are required to be renewed in full by the IBC no later than the anniversary date of the third year of the ongoing research project or instructional activity.

Changes or amendments to a registration are required to be approved before the modifications commence.  Significant changes or amendments require the review and assessment of the full committee before modifications are permitted to occur.  Minor changes or amendments may only require the review and assessment of the IBC Chairman or designee.

Contact the Biosafety Program Office with questions to whether IBC review and assessments are necessary for any new, continuing, or amended research study or instructional activity.

Failure to comply may result in the premature closure or immediate suspension of the project or activity, and the notification of granting agency and with the possibility of forfeiture of extramural support.

Please keep in mind, to import microorganisms into the State of Hawai‘i requires written authorization from the Office of Research Compliance.  Permits and letters of authorization from State of Hawaii government offices (e.g., Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture) and from federal agencies (e.g., CDC, USDA/APHIS, DOC) are required and is dependent on the origin and proposed use of the interested biological commodity.  More information can be found on the Get a Permit page.

BSP Program Information

UH Biosafety Program and IBC Registered: 
NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities/Office of Scientific Policy

Expiration date:
October 2020