Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

About the IBC

This document provides the charge of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and information about the IBC regular meetings and the list of IBC voting members.

Go to: Purpose  |  Objective  |  Committee Membership


Federal Guidelines established by the National Institute of Health, require that institutions conducting or sponsoring research using recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (r/sNA) covered by the NIH Guidelines, be responsible for ensuring that the research is conducted in full conformity with the provisions of the NIH Guidelines. In order to fulfill this responsibility Cornell University has established an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), charged with oversight responsibilities for all research related activities involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules and other biohazardous materials.


The IBC's primary objective is to safeguard protection of personnel, the general public, and the environment. To meet this goal, the IBC imposes requirements for safe laboratory and biological safety practices; reviews and approves policies, procedures, training, programs and facilities pursuant to the safe use of biological agents, other biological materials, and biotoxins.

The IBC is responsible for:

  1. Review and approval of the research activities involving r/sNA or other biohazardous materials on a regular and continuing basis.

  2. Independently assess the containment levels of the work, as required by the NIH Guidelines, for all experiments, including those involving whole plants and/or animals, cell cultures, tissues, human-derived materials, biological toxins, infectious agents, and regulated pathogens and pests.

  3. Assess the facilities, procedures, practices, and training and expertise of personnel involved with r/sNA and biohazardous research.

  4. Lower the containment levels for certain experiments in which DNA from Risk Group 2, 3, or 4 or Restricted Agents is cloned into nonpathogenic prokaryotic or lower eukaryotic host-vector systems.

  5. Perform periodic reviews or require modifications of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules or biohazardous research and research facilities at Cornell to ensure compliance with the NIH Guidelines and other government regulations.

  6. Notify the Principal Investigator of the results of the IBC's review and approval.

  7. Adopt emergency plans covering accidental spills and personnel contamination resulting from research using recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.

  8. Report significant problems with or violations of the NIH Guidelines and any significant research related accidents or illnesses to ORIA and the appropriate institutional official and when necessary to NIH/OBA.

  9. In cooperation with ORIA, suspend or terminate approval of research that is not being conducted in accordance with the IBC's requirements.

Committee Membership

Federal Regulations (NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules)require that membership of the IBC include at a minimum, five members, who collectively have experience in general issues of laboratory biosafety, use of infectious materials, and expertise in recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecule technology and the capability to assess the safety of such research and identify any potential risk to public health or the environment. The membership is composed of: at least one faculty member with expertise in plant, plant pathogen, or plant pest containment principles; one faculty member with expertise in animal containment principles, gene therapy in animals, viral pathogens and vectors, microbial pathogens, biotoxins and biotechnology; the Institutional Biological Safety Officer when research is conducted at BL3, BL4, or Large Scale (greater than 10 liters); one member of the laboratory technical staff; and two members not affiliated with the institution (apart from their membership on the committee).

Because Cornell is a large institution, additional members are included to provide adequate representation of the diverse research community. In order to ensure that the committee has expertise required to review and approve the wide range of research activities, ad hoc consultants will be used as deemed necessary.

The following individuals are voting members of the current IBC:

  • Julie Siler, Research Technician, Public and Ecosystem Health

  • Edward Koppel, Occupational Medicine Physician, ex-officio

  • Professor Georg Jander, Boyce Thompson Institute

  • Paul Jennette, Biosafety Engineer, CVM Biosafety Program

  • Christy Michaels, Non-affiliated member*

  • Cathy Moseley, Non-affiliated member*

  • Professor Colin Parrish, James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health, Chair

  • Professor Luis Schang, James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health

  • Beth Bennett, DVM, Center for Animal Resources & Education, ex-officio

  • Professor Bryan Swingle, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology

  • Josh Turse, Ph.D., Biological Safety Officer, Environmental Health & Safety

  • Professor Ping Wang, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology

  • Professor Xiaohong Wang, Plant Pathology & Microbe Biology

  • Professor Jeff Pleiss, Molecular Biology and Genetics

  • Professor Laura Goodman, James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health

* The nonaffiliated members represent general community interests including issues involving health and welfare of individuals involved in research and any environmental impact on the surrounding community. These members are not otherwise affiliated with the university, nor have an immediate family member who is affiliated with the university.

Members are appointed by the President, upon recommendation of the Dean of Faculty in consultation with the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Membership terms vary from one to three years (except for those who are ex officio with voting privileges). The committee chair is appointed from the faculty membership and will serve for a term of one to three years.