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Program Overview 

The Dartmouth College Biosafety Program is dedicated to promoting a safe, ethical, and environmentally-friendly research environment.  We support the advancement of Dartmouth biological research by:  
  • Assisting our scientists in the adherence to all federal, state, and local requirements for biological research
  • Providing training, risk assessment consultations, and laboratory safety audits
  • Developing institutional and lab specific policies on the safe handling of biohazardous materials, including engineering and work practice controls, biosafety levels, and personal protective equipment requirements

Our priorities are to:

  1. Prevent laboratory acquired infections (LAIs)
  2. Facilitate research compliance
  3. Protect the environment
  4. Promote a positive culture around laboratory safety

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August 29, 2014

Attention NIH Funded Investigators!

In light of the recent lapses in biosafety practices involving federal laboratories, the National Security Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a joint memo to all federal departments and agencies involved in life-sciences research urging them to take immediate and longer-term steps to address the underlying causes of the incidents and strengthening overall biosafety and biosecurity at federal facilities.  Click here for the NSC/OSTP memo.

In response, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, released a statement on August 27, 2014 designating September as National Biosafety Stewardship Month.

In the month of September, NIH laboratories will, and grantee institutions and/or contractors are encouraged to, do the following:

  • Reexamine current policies and procedures for biosafety practices and oversight to ascertain whether they require modification to optimize their effectiveness;
  • Conduct inventories of infectious agents and toxins in all laboratories to ensure that the institution has a record of which infectious agents and toxins are being utilized, has documentation that those materials are properly stored under the appropriate containment conditions, and has documentation that cites the party responsible for appropriate stewardship of the materials; and
  • Reinforce biosafety training of investigators, laboratory staff, and members of IBCs to include:
    • Reexamining training materials and practices being utilized by the institution;
    • Updating materials as appropriate; and
    • Ascertaining the appropriate frequency of training and conduct training when the interval between training or other considerations warrant it.

What do you need to do?

1.  It's time to clean shop and create/update an inventory - do you know what's in your lab's freezers? 

Dartmouth researchers are responsible for what is in their laboratories.  To honor the National Biosafety Stewardship Month, please discuss this topic with your lab members this month and update your lab's inventories of potentially infectious agents, toxins, and/or poisons.  It not only keeps you aware of the agents for which you are ultimately responsible, but it will also help create space in your freezers by getting rid of those tubes you no longer need.  Freezer clean-outs are good laboratory practice, not just because the NIH is asking us to do this, but because they help keep your freezers running well and efficiently, thereby decreasing the risk of freezer meltdown and sample loss.

2.  As part of your inventory process, please be sure to update your lab's Live Usage Summary in BioRAFT.  The Institutional Biosafety Committee uses this information to do a risk assessment and to give IBC approvals for the biological research you do.  The IBC also uses this information as an institutional inventory of what is on campus in the event of reporting to federal officials.  This information is also used in cases of laboratory accidents.  Therefore, it is critically important that your BioRAFT Live Usage Summary is an accurate display of what is in your lab.  Please contact the Biological Safety Officer if you need help with this process.

More detailed info about the White House and NIH announcements can be found here:

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Biological research is any experimental activity involving the following biological agents:

  • Human source materials (includes primary and immortal cell lines, clinical specimens, samples, tissues, etc)
  • Animals and animal source materials
  • Plants and plant source materials
  • Recombinant and synthetic DNA/RNA (including all viral vectors, RNAi technologies, etc), as stipulated by the NIH/Office of Science Policy Guidelines for Research Involving rDNA Molecules
  • Microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions, yeast, algae, rickettsiae, parasites, etc)
  • Biological toxins, allergens

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What to do in the event of an injury or potential exposure:

 injury 3 stepsreport injury

Additional Steps to Take After Seeking Medical Attention:

  1. Contact Environmental Health and Safety (603-646-1762). We will assist in the reporting of exposures and determine what steps can be taken to avoid such exposures in the future.
  2. Click the "Report an Injury" link above, complete, and submit the necessary form to Dartmouth Risk Management within 24hours.  Depending on the type of biological exposure, additional reporting may be required.  Contact the Biological Safety Officer for assistance with biological exposures.

For more information on responding to and reporting emergencies or any accidents or incidents, please review the Dartmouth College Emergency Response and Biohazard Exposure Control Plan.

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Laboratory Biosafety Audits:

Biosafety audits are a vital part of any safety program as it ensures that all essential safety measures and regulations are followed within the research environment.  They are designed to help labs be "inspection ready" for any unannounced federal inspections.  Aspects of laboratory audits are dependent upon the nature of research in the given area and may include any of the following:

  • Assessing appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Proper use of laboratory equipment (biological safety cabinets, centrifuge, etc)
  • Proper labeling of equipment for the storing/manipulation of biological materials
  • Proper procedures for decontamination of biological waste (solid, liquid, sharps)
  • Presence of life safety devices (eyewash, safety shower, antimicrobial soap, etc)

Please review the Dartmouth Biological Laboratory Audit Checklist to best prepare for your lab's biosafety audit.  Comprehensive biological lab audits will be performed every 3 years (at a minimum) in conjunction with IBC re-review of research.  Lab audits may be conducted more frequently if there is a significant change in research (new biohazardous agents or manipulations), and/or if incidents are found during an audit.  Please contact the Biological Safety Officer if you would like to schedule a lab biosafety audit.

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Contact

For specific questions or to learn more about our Biological Safety Program, please email:

Brenda Petrella, PhD  absa

Biological Safety Officer 

Environmental Health & Safety

(603) 646-9790   

Last Updated: 12/19/14