Biohazards: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Whose approval do I need to use biohazards in research or teaching on the Iowa State University campus?
Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) must approve any teaching or research project that involves:
- use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, including transgenic/gene edited animals or transgenic plants;
- use of human or animal pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions, parasites);
- use of soil, seed, plants, plant pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites), or other material received under a USDA APHIS compliance agreement or permit;
- use of biological toxins;
- administration of experimental biological products to animals;
- field releases of plant pests received under a USDA APHIS PPQ permit;
- field releases of genetically modified organisms that are under a USDA APHIS PPQ or BRS permit (e.g., not commercially available GMOs).
Projects that DO NOT require IBC review and approval include:
- Diagnostic samples where analysis is completed at the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
- Clinical samples purchased or obtained off campus not known to contain pathogens
- Samples of unknown makeup, analyzed in a researcher’s laboratory
- However, once a virus or pathogen is identified and the research team plans to further manipulate the sample, IBC oversight is required. Additionally, if the research team plans to run control samples of known viruses or pathogens, IBC oversight is required.
How do I request User Access to the System?
Use this Excel file to enter any personnel you will want to be included in a-tune for your protocols. This email request must be from the PI or the PI must be copied on it. Only personnel requested by the PI will be entered into the Production environment. The system administrators must add users to the a-tune software before personnel, including the PI, are allowed access to the system. Please send these requests to the IBC office at email@example.com.
How do I find the forms needed to get IBC approval?
What is the deadline for submitting a protocol?
Protocols must be submitted 7 business days prior to the IBC meeting. IBC meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Subcommittees of the IBC meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month for non-recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid research, provided there are sufficient applications for review.
Whom should I contact if I have problems or questions while filling out the IBC protocols?
What is the average time before IBC approval is received?
On average, IBC approval is received within four weeks of protocol submission. Approval times vary depending on the completeness of the protocol and the efficiency of the PI in addressing the committee’s questions regarding the submitted protocol.
How does the Office of Research Ethics help expedite the IBC review process?
To help expedite the review, the IBC Administrator conducts preliminary review of all submitted protocols to identify any problems with the application. The administrator provides guidance to the PI regarding: common questions and/or concerns of the IBC expressed during protocol reviews; regulations and other information that the committee may expect to see; and PI responses to IBC questions, etc. The administrator provides feedback to the PI before sending the protocol for committee review to allow the PI to address any concerns. This often speeds up review as the commonly encountered mistakes and/or questions are addressed before IBC review.
What are some common problems encountered on the IBC protocol that would delay IBC approval?
Committee approval can be delayed when the IBC protocol has these common problems:
- All questions on the protocol are not completed.
- The pertinent section of the NIH Guidelines that best describes the project is not provided. (Section III – Experiments Covered by the NIH Guidelines)
- The use of acronyms – while these may be accepted among colleagues, full names are required on the IBC protocols.
- A clear experimental design description is not provided in the protocol.
- Sufficient information regarding decontamination and disposal methods is not provided.
- Sufficient procedures for laboratory safety and experimental procedures are not provided.
How do I access a-tune if I am off campus?
You will need to have ISU’s virtual private network (VPN) set up on devices to access the system when not connected to the ISU network – feel free to set this up now. Instructions are found on the ITS website: https://www.it.iastate.edu/services/vpn.