BYU iGEM/Safety


Team BYU Provo
BYU Provo

1. Would the materials used in your project and/or your final product pose:

  • Risks to the safety and health of team members or others in the lab?
  • Risks to the safety and health of the general public if released by design or accident?
  • Risks to environmental quality if released by design or accident?
  • Risks to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups or states?
The Doctor

1) As with anything worth pursuing, our project has some necessary risks. In the lab, the main concern is Ethidium Bromide (EtBr), which is a suspected DNA mutagen. We use EtBr in DNA gel electrophoresis to locate the DNA on the gel. Any harmful effects of EtBr may be avoided by wearing gloves and avoiding inhaling the fumes. To prevent the misuse of the EtBr, we only have a small bottle and it is kept behind locked doors as approved by BYU. Once we are finished with the gels that contain EtBr, we discard them in waste bins designated for such gels and the BYU Hazardous Waste team disposes of them as appropriate. All of the other parts, bacteria (E. coli) and instruments that we use in our lab are harmless to humans and the environment under normal conditions.

2. If your response to any of the questions above is yes:

a. Explain how you addressed these issues in project design and while conducting laboratory work.

See answer for question 1.

b. Describe and document safety, security, health and/or environmental issues as you submit your parts to the Registry.

3. Under what biosafety provisions will/do you operate?

All bacteria we work with are BSL level 1. We are expressing a riboswitch from Lysteria on plasmid, however it is simply a riboswitch (no protein from Lysteria is expressed). This riboswitch was synthesized and thus no Lysteria was used in the laboratory.

a. Does your institution have its own biosafety rules and if so what are they? Provide a link to them online if possible.

We operate under the rules and guidelines as outlined on the BYU Life Science’s Safety Page: Also, an IBC application must be filled out for recombinant DNA. We have filed out this IBC report and our project has been approved by Edwin Jackson, the Research Safety Officer of the BYU Biosafety Committee.

b. Does your institution have an Institutional Biosafety Committee or equivalent group? If yes, have you discussed your project with them?

Yes, see answer for a.

Describe any concerns or changes that were made based on this review.

No changes were made.

c. Will / did you receive any biosafety and/or lab training before beginning your project? If so, describe this training.

Each team member individually read through and passed the BYU Life Sciences Safety and Compliance online training as discussed here:; or completed and passed the lab safety training developed by Coastal Technologies Training Corp. and titled "Lab Safety: The Finer Points" offered through the BYU Harold B. Lee Library. For information on the latter, see:

d. Does your country have national biosafety regulations or guidelines? If so, provide a link to them online if possible.


4. OPTIONAL QUESTION: Do you have other ideas on how to deal with safety or security issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?

A podcast that you can download with any safety concerns for a particular part that may be considered “risky.”