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New process for teaching labs using infectious agent

The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Institutional Biosafety Committee have announced a new process for teaching activities that use Risk Group 2 (RG2) microorganisms.

Beginning Spring semester 2014, laboratory-based teaching activities that involve work with RG2 microorganisms must be reviewed and approved by the IBC. Although this requirement pertains mainly to microbiology teaching laboratories, it could also extend to molecular biology or other courses with a laboratory component in which these agents are handled.

In the past, the IBC has reviewed and approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) for microbiology teaching laboratories that instructors submitted on a voluntary basis. However, at many other major research institutions (e.g., Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue), IBC approval for activities involving potentially pathogenic microorganisms in microbiology teaching laboratories has been mandatory. 

The Centers for Disease Control conducted a multi-state epidemiological investigationof Salmonella enterica infections in students resulting from exposure in teaching laboratories. Concerns raised by this investigation prompted the University of Minnesota IBC, in collaboration with a working group of microbiology and molecular biology instructors from the Twin Cities and coordinate campuses and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, to develop guidelines for course-specific SOPs and to design an application form for registering teaching activities involving RG2 microorganisms.

The IBC requirement will be phased in over the coming months. The Infectious Agent Usage application and the SOP Guidance Document for UMN Microbiology Teaching Laboratories can be found on the IBC website.

This post was excerpted from a memo from Vice President for Research Brian Herman sent to instructors in teaching laboratories using RG2 microorganisms on August 15, 2013. For more information, contact the IBC office at 612-626-5654 or

Source:  Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota
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