Get Started with Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (r/sNA) or Other Biohazardous Agents

PI eligibility and research requiring review by the IBC

UPDATED 7/7/2020: Owing to the heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission, the Provost and Vice Provost for Research have stated that “we must reduce laboratory research and other nonessential research activities.” Therefore, although the IBC is moving forward with reviewing and approving protocols, amendments, and renewals, these approvals do NOT supersede the Provost’s directive.

Cornell University has been cleared by the state to restart research activities in a staged, limited manner. As directed by the Provost and Vice Provost for Research, initial stages will involve research related to health and disease, agriculture/food, national defense, and research in support of other essential businesses. Before research can resume, buildings must be cleared, sufficient protective equipment must be available for all personnel, and individual lab plans must receive departmental and college approvals. Please note that only individuals whose research work requires them to be on-site should be working on campus. Please reference the Cornell Research and Operations Reactivation Committee’s guide for the safe restart of the university's research, and visit the IBC COVID-19 FAQs page for more information.

Appropriate reasons to conduct research activity on campus

  • Use of scientific equipment located only on campus
  • Use of reagents
  • Research involving animals and plants

Inappropriate reasons to conduct research activity on campus

  • Personal preference or convenience

Thank you for taking these limitations into consideration, and please contact the IBC if you have any questions.

All researchers must secure IBC approval for their research activities involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (r/sNA) or biohazardous materials by submitting a Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement (MUA) with the IBC. 

  • All personnel listed on the MUA must complete all training required by the IBC before they can be approved to work with the biohazardous materials.
  • Bloodborne pathogen training is required for those individuals who are working with human and non-human primate blood, tissues, fluids, and other potentially infectious materials (including cell lines). Individuals must complete Bloodborne pathogen training prior to working with the material. This training has an annual renewal requirement.
  • Register for Bloodborne Pathogen Training
    • Log in
    • Upper right hand select the Magnifying Glass icon
    • Search for the 1070 Blood borne pathogen certification
      • If taking for the first time - Select EHS 1074-Blood borne pathogens and sign up for a training time or web based learning.
      • If renewing - Select EHS 1875 and launch the web based training
  • Hepatitis B Vaccination Status Form

Research involving the following require IBC approval:

  • Recombinant/synthetic nucleic acid molecules, as covered by NIH Guidelines
  • Infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions, etc.) that can cause disease in healthy humans and/or significant environmental or agricultural impacts, as covered by the Biosafety in Microbiological and biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) guidelines
  • Select agents and select toxins, as covered by the Federal Select Agent regulations
  • Human materials (including all fluids, tissues, excretions, secretions, or cell lines) as covered by the U.S> Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne pathogens Standard
  • Nonhuman primate materials (including live animals, all fluids, tissues, excretions, secretions, or cell lines) as covered by the BMBL and OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
  • Genetically modified animals and whole plants as covered by NIH guidelines
  • Regulated Plant Pest of Pathogens as covered by USDA-APHIS

Under the NIH Guidelines, agents are classified into four Risk Groups (RGs) according to their relative pathogenicity for healthy adult humans by the following criteria:

  • RG1 – Are not associated with disease in healthy adult humans or animals
  • RG2 – Are associated with disease which is rarely serious and for which preventative or therapeutics is often available
  • RG3 – Are associated with serious or lethal human disease for which preventative or therapeutics may be available
  • RG4 – Are associated with lethal human disease for which preventative or therapeutics are not readily available

Microorganisms and their associate RG designation can be found at  ABSA website

Factors to be considered in determining the level of containment include agent factors such as:

  • Virulence, pathogenicity  and infectious dose of the organism
  • Mode of transmission and host range
  • Availability of effective preventive measures (e.g., vaccines)
  • Availability of effective treatment (e.g., antibiotics)
  • Other factors

All cell and organ cultures of human and non-human primate origin, including well established cell lines, shall be handled in accordance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and under BSL-2 containment.

  • Bloodborne Pathogen training is required as defined by OSHA 929 CFR 1910.1030. Annual refresher training is required.

  • For more information go to the EHS Web site

  • Research Lab Exposure Control Plan

  • Use of commercially available deregulated transgenic crops
  • Activities involving only the in vitro use of nucleic acids (i.e., PCR, synthetic double stranded RNA) and does not involve the cloning and propagation of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules in cells, organisms or viruses.