Team:BU Wellesley Software/Safety


BU-Wellesley iGEM Team: Meet the Team Members


Computational Team Safety

For the computational team, safety was still an important component, as we tested our software on human subjects. We considered a user's physical, emotional, and mental demand during a study. We had consent forms for every participant in every study, letting them know that the studies were voluntary and that they could leave at any time they felt uncomfortable. We were very reassuring throughout every study, letting users know that any crashes or difficulties were our fault as designers and programmers; not theirs. We also compensated our participants with lunch or gift cards.

Wet Lab Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance to the wet lab division of the BU/Wellesley iGEM team. In our research exploration of transcription factor interactions in ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'', we strive to conduct experiments and construct DNA plasmids using the most biologically safe methods possible.

None of the materials used in our iGEM project pose a significant risk to the health and safety of our team members and laboratory. We work in a standard BSL1 certified lab space and mainly work with ''E. coli'' bacteria. Furthermore, there is no risk to the public health or environment if the materials of our project were released. This is because the genes that we are using and studying code for transcriptional proteins and are not pathogenic or toxic. There is no threat of security through misuse of our materials because of their nonlethal nature.

Specifically, despite the design of our parts and devices focus on ''M.tuberculosis'' transcription factors, the actual genes we are implementing in our BioBrick devices are genes from the nonpathogenic strain of ''M.tuberculosis'', ''Mycobacterium smegmatis''. The genes are made from a PCR reaction using primers designed from the ''M. smegmatis'' genome. Additionally, we are inserting these genes into ''E. coli'' bacteria, thus we are never in contact or work directly with ''M. tuberculosis'' or ''M. smegmatis''. This eliminates any risks associated with our Biobrick devices affecting our team members as well as the overall public health and environment. The genes we are using are available to the public, thus there is no threat to security with our parts.

In terms of lab safety and institutional standards, there is an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) at Boston University which evaluates all research projects, primarily those involved with recombinant DNA, and insures proper biosafety guidelines. We are in contact with the IBC and are in the process of approving our project.

There is also a Laboratory Safety Committee through which all wet lab members have taken a mandatory laboratory safety training. This training provides a basic overview to chemical and biosafety, fire and life safety, emergency management, and waste management. In the United States, the major centers for biosafety procedures and guidelines are the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Guidelines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The BU/Wellesley wet lab division will be documenting all of our safety procedures and guidelines in our online notebooks for future iGEM teams to see. Our hope is that future iGEM projects can continue to maintain, and even excel, biosafety standards to ensure the unintentional exposure or release of pathogens or toxins into the environment.