The University of Texas System Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) reports to the UTHealth Executive Vice President for Research on matters related to the use of recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology in research, clinical and educational activities at UTHealth. The committee is charged with ensuring full compliance with NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules, referred to herein as the NIH Guidelines. The most recent version of the NIH Guidelines (April 2002) is available at the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities (NIH OBA) website (http://www4.od.nih.gov/oba) and shall apply to all rDNA research performed at UTHealth, regardless of the rDNA research project funding source.
Specific tasks of the committee include:
- Assessing the safety of rDNA research experiments and recommending policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of all faculty, staff, students, patients, and visitors within UTHealth
- Ensuring compliance with all federal, state and local statutes, regulations, procedures and principles relating to the procurement, creation, storage, use, and disposal of rDNA used in UTHealth's research, clinical and educational programs.
- Approving Principal Investigators (PI), their laboratories and/or practices for work at graded biosafety levels in accordance with the NIH Guidelines.
- Overseeing the development and maintenance of written biological safety plans that specify practices for minimizing occupational rDNA exposures (including exposures to organisms and viruses containing rDNA, and products of rDNA) for all affected populations through the use of proper engineering controls and work practices; making the plan available to the institutional community; recommending updates to the plan, as necessary; and overseeing the development and implementation of educational programs related to rDNA and biological safety.
- Identifying tasks that carry a risk for exposure to rDNA and the occupational groups involved.
- Overseeing the follow-up and monitoring of those persons with potential exposure to rDNA.
UTHealth Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is designated as the monitoring and effecter arm of the IBC.
All activities of the committee are coordinated, as necessary, with other institutional components including the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP), UT Employee Health Services, Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care (CLAMC) and other UTHealth oversight committees, such as the IRB [Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS)] and the IACUC [Animal Welfare Committee (AWC)].
The IBC consists of a minimum of five voting members so selected that they collectively have experience and expertise in rDNA technology, and the capability to assess the safety of rDNA research and to identify any potential risk to public health or the environment. At least two members shall be unaffiliated with UTHealth (except as members of the IBC) and shall represent the interest of the surrounding community with respect to health and the protection of the environment. At least one member shall be a scientist with expertise in animal containment principles for studies requiring approval by the IBC. At this time there is no recombinant plant research being conducted at UTHealth, however, if this research is proposed to the committee in the future then at least one member will be sought with expertise in plant, plant pathogen, or plant pest containment principles for review of these studies.
The current UTHealth committee is comprised of the following voting members serving on two-year, staggered terms of appointment:
- Three or more faculty members with experience in rDNA technology and/or biological safety and containment *
- Two community members *
- A student member
- A laboratory technician *
Ex Officio Members - the following are designated as members without vote:
- Representative from Legal Affairs/Institutional Compliance
- Representative from Employee Health Services
- Assistant Vice President for Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management
- Director, Environmental Health & Safety
- Executive Vice President for Research
- Representative from
Psychiatric Center Harris County
* Required members by the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules
The current list of IBC members can be found online at: https://www.uth.edu/safety/biological-safety/institutional-biosafety-committee.htm