Biological Safety

Program Description

The Biosafety Program at the University of Pittsburgh provides guidance for faculty, staff, and students who work with biological agents to maintain a safe and healthy working environment, including:

  • identification of biological materials being used,
  • evaluation of the usage procedures for the potential to result in personnel exposure or environmental contamination,
  • design of policies and programs to eliminate exposure or contamination, and
  • review of the effectiveness of these programs.

Programs to ensure the safe handling of biological agents are required by the Federal Government (i.e., OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard) and many granting agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The University Biosafety Officer, a member of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, works closely with the Biohazards Committee and University personnel to ensure that the appropriate Biosafety programs are in compliance with applicable regulations and have the desired protective effects.

Related Documents:

BSL-3 Worker Health Screening Questionnaire

BSL-3 Worker Health Screening Annual Update

University Biosafety Committees

University Biohazards Committee

The University Biohazards Committee is a subcommittee of the University Environmental Health and Safety Committee. It is established to review and approve Biosafety issues, including the maintenance of an active and effective Biosafety program as developed by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety for all University of Pittsburgh faculty, staff and students.

Biohazards Committee Members and Responsibility


Institutional Animal Care And Use Committee (IACUC)

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

The University of Pittsburgh Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with NIH Guidelines on all activities that involve recombinant DNA (rDNA) including gene therapy.

Select Agent Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have regulations for the possession, use, and transfer of select biological agents and toxins that could pose a threat to human, animal and plant health and safety.

These regulations implement the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Response Act of 2002, which became effective February 7, 2003 with full compliance due before November 12, 2003. The rules establish a registration process for facilities possessing select agents and toxins, safety- and physical-security compliance requirements, exemption criteria, and restrictions upon persons eligible to be granted access to a select agent or toxin in accordance with the US Patriot Act.

See a complete list of select agents and genetic elements regulated under the Select Agent Program (PDF).

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) coordinates the Select Agent Program for the University of Pittsburgh.

Registration is Mandatory

All investigators that possess or use any Select Agent at the University of Pittsburgh or transfer any Select Agent to or from the University must be registered with EH&S and possibly the Federal Select Agent Program.

Violations of the Select Agent Program can result in Federal criminal penalties, including imprisonment and/or fines.

Investigators working with Select Agent Toxins at the University of Pittsburgh may be exempt from Federal registration based on the quantities of toxin(s) in their possession. These investigators must still be registered with EH&S and comply with the following Guidelines for Working with Select Agent Toxins (PDF).

For more information about the Select Agent Program call the University Biosafety Officer at 412-624-8919 or visit the CDC Select Agent Program Web site.

Biosafety Links