1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:

*Researcher safety

Biological sciences are a great tool for innovation and improvement of human society; nevertheless when the biosafety parameters are ignored, this area of research can become quite dangerous. We always have that idea present while working at the laboratory. We follow the rules stated at the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and according to the safety guidelines established by the Instituto de Fisiología Celular (IFC), part of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). We also have been working under the statutes of the Mexican official law (published in 2005) and guidelines (published in 2008 and reformed in 2009) about biosafety regarding genetically modified organisms, both available in the Mexican Government web site. Furthermore, we work under the guidance of Soledad Funes, PhD, who is always ready to solve any doubts we have regarding the disposal of biological and non-biological wastes. The materials used throughout the project do not pose any safety or health risk neither to the team members nor to the rest of the members of the lab. For the development of this project, we have looked for those materials and reagents which would represent the least risk for ourselves, others and the environment. We understand, however, that when used in the wrong concentrations or without the proper care, some of the solutions, buffers and materials can be potentially harmful. In order to avoid any possible harm or injury, during every lab work session, all the team members always use gloves and white cotton laboratory coat as basic protection, and each time they start working or finish any experiment, common basic material, like micropipettes, UV transilluminator, analytical balance, used reagents, timers, glass ware and the lab bench, is cleaned superficially with water and/or ethanol 70%, to assure avoidance of any health risks to lab members as well to prevent cross-contamination among other experiments.

*Public Safety

The materials and reagents used also do not represent any safety or health risk to the general public. It is important to stress that, like any other institutional research center, the access to the building is restricted and controlled, so general public entrance is not allowed, as well to children and suspect persons. With this measure, the possibility of accidents and malicious misuse of our experimental material by other individuals or groups is reduced.

*Environmental Safety

Furthermore, they also do not pose any risk to the general public or to the environmental quality when released. During the development of our project, it is of outmost importance to consider the management and destination of the dangerous and toxic reagents, genetically modified organisms and other substances that may pose a threat to the environment and/or living beings. In the experiments we are performing, the presence of dangerous reagents is limited and therefore buffers and other non-biological reagents can be easily disposed. As common practice, strong acids and bases are neutralized before disposal, and other reagents are disposed according to the manufacturer recommendations and to local and institutional laws and regulations. All the used plastic material (like pipette tips, eppendorf tubes, etc.) is disposed into a special container and afterwards incinerated.

2. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise safety issues?

No. The parts produced by our group have all been promoter BioBrick parts and they do not raise any safety issues.

3. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?

The IFC follows the biosafety regulations from the UNAM and in particular the recommendations made by the Environmental Management Unit. A more detailed protocol for identification, evaluation, characterization and disposal of substances which might pose some kind of biological risk can be found here ( manual_bioseguridad.pdf). These regulations include handling of the basic equipment in a laboratory, management and disposal of biological and chemical waste, correct behavior in the laboratory, how to behave in case of laboratory accidents, what to do in case of emergency (i.e. fires, earthquakes) and protection measures. Before we have started our work in the lab, we were given an introductory lecture on the basic safety measurements we have to follow with special focus on the safety level we will be working (Biosafety Level 1). Some of the Mexican regulations on biosafety are summarized here (

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