BostonU iGEM Team: Welcome


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

researcher safety,

    Personnel safety is one of the top priorities of the BL1 lab. Before starting lab work, we attended lab safety training provided by the Institutional Biosafety Committee. We were familiarized with the operation of lab equipment and nature of chemicals we use after being trained by our mentors..While we are working at the lab, we take every necessary precaution to prevent any type of injuries through wearing long pants and sleeves, wearing gloves and close toed shoes. In addition, we prohibit food or drinks to be brought into the lab to prevent ingestion of contaminated foods. We also follow all the laboratory guidelines and practices to ensure a safe and sound working environment. In terms of materials we come in contact with, the only components of our lab that may be harmful are the UV lights and SYBER. To prevent UV light damage, we wear plastic face masks. To prevent SYBER contamination, we wear gloves.

public safety, or

    The safety of the public is very important to us. Although we do not work with pathogenic organisms, we still take containment seriously. We do not allow the public into our lab to prevent any sort of contact between E. coli and reagents with the public. In addition, our lab has recently been examined and has passed inspections by biosafety specialists of the Institution of Biosafety Committee.

environmental safety?

    We care for the safety of the environment that we are part of. Thus, we take safety precautions to make the environment as productive and functional as possible. We dispose our waste appropriately into the designated containers whether they are bioharzardous or sharps or glass. We maintain a strong doctrine on preventing environmentally hazardous material from entering the public water system through drainage from sinks. We therefore have waste collection containers for different types of waste materials located all over the lab to encourage safe and easy disposal habits.

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

did you document these issues in the Registry?
how did you manage to handle the safety issue?
How could other teams learn from your experience?

    Our project this year is based in the MoClo technique for creating new parts. This approach decreases the likelihood of safety issues occurring since the technique combines multiple steps of DNA manipulation. As the number of steps required to achieve to reach our goal decreases, the chances for safety issues to happen also decrease. Moreover, the parts we are making are safe for they do not contain genetic coding for toxins or other lethal organic molecules. However, in the hypothetical case that if one of our parts were to raise safety issues, we would document the issues in the registry, and also include ways to handle the issue.

3. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?

    There is a Institution of Biosafety Committee on campus at Boston University. They have provided us with standardized safety training in addition to biannual lab safety examinations. We also have a liaison of lab safety in the lab to also enforce IBC’s policies and lab safety guidelines. The IBC is fully aware of our project, and that it is in compliance with IBC’s biosafety guidelines.

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?

    This year we are focusing on a standard method for characterizing parts in order to systematically produce data that enables more efficient design of genetic circuits. We think that part safety is an essential aspect to be considered when a part is described. Therefore, for future iGEM competitions, when characterizing a part there should be a section for part safety information that would include possible safety issues and protocols that ensure safe manipulation of the part.