Last Revised: April 11, 2022




The University of Pennsylvania’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is responsible for enforcing NIH guidelines and policies relevant to university-related use or transfer of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids (r·s·NA) or cells, organisms, and viruses containing r·s·NA.  The IBC is responsible for providing review and oversight to ensure that all forms of research involving r·s·NA, particularly r·s·NA research involving infectious agents, human and non-human primate materials (including established cell lines), select agents, transgenic animals and human gene transfer studies conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and within the University of Pennsylvania Health System are in compliance with the NIH Guidelines and all of the University’s policies. The IBC is responsible for ensuring that research using these materials is conducted in a manner that protects the researchers, laboratory workers, human research subjects, the public and the environment. The IBC is authorized to inspect research facilities, approve research practices and procedures, and to take actions, such as enforcement of cessation of research activities, in the event of an unsafe workplace situation. In addition to oversight of r·s·NA research the IBC also oversees research involving Select Agents and all work requiring BSL-3 and/or ABSL-3 containment. IBC members are appointed by the Vice Provost for Research. The University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) supports the IBC in carrying out its mission and its Executive Director shall act as secretary to the committee. 

In carrying out its charge, the IBC will:

  1. Review r·s·NA research conducted at or sponsored by the institution for compliance as specified in Section III, Experiments Covered by the NIH Guidelines, and will approve those research projects that are found to conform to the NIH Guidelines.

  2. Notify the Principal Investigator of the results of committee review and whether RAC public review is required.

  3. Lower containment levels for experiments specified in Section III-D-2-a, upon written request.

  4. Set containment levels as specified in Sections III-D-4-b and III-D-5.

  5. Periodically review r·s·NA research conducted at Penn to ensure compliance with the NIH Guidelines is maintained.

  6. Adopt emergency plans covering accidental spills and/or contamination resulting from r·s·NA research.

  7. Report significant problems with or violations of the NIH Guidelines and any significant research-related accidents or illnesses to the appropriate institutional official and NIH/OBA within the mandated time period.

  8. May not authorize initiation of experiments which are not explicitly covered by the NIH Guidelines.

  9. Perform other functions as discussed in Section IV-B-2.