Regulated Biohazardous Materials (IBC)

About the Institutional Biosafety Committeebiohazard symbol

The primary responsibility of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is to review research and teaching activities involving the use of materials that have the potential to pose a danger to the health and safety of the researchers and the community.  

Anyone utilizing regulated biohazardous materials in teaching or research at Penn State must submit proposed use to the IBC for review and approval prior to utilizing the materials. In addition to the use of regulated biohazardous materials, Penn State policies address infectious-waste disposal and the handling of human blood, blood products, tissue and/or cell lines samples.

If you have suggestions for IBC-related workshop topics, please submit them on our Topic Suggestions Page.

If you are interested in serving on Penn State University's Biosafety Committee, please contact the Office for Research Protections at

Who Needs to Submit?

Do I need to submit an application to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) for the use of regulated/biohazardous materials in research and instruction?

You must submit an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) application to the Office for Research Protections for review and approval by the IBC prior to the use of a biohazardous material in any activities conducted under the auspices of the University. Note there are specific training requirements for all study personnel. Review information on the IBC Applications page for more information.  

What type of regulated/biohazardous material requires review?

As stated in Penn State Policy RP11 - Use of Regulated and Biohazardous Materials in Research and Instruction, the categories below represent the areas of primary concern.  Research and instruction activities involving material(s) included in any of these categories must be submitted for review and approval by the IBC:

  1. Chemical Carcinogens used in conjunction with animals.
  2. Toxic/Infectious agents used in conjunction with animals.
  3. Infectious agents requiring handling conditions above Biosafety Level-1. (Biosafety Level determinations are based on the recommendations outlined by the CDC-NIH publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories .)
  4. Recombinant DNA

    Definitions For Clarification:

    Recombinant DNA (rDNA) molecules are defined as either: (i) molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell, or (ii) molecules that result from the replication of those described in (i) above.

    Nucleic acids that are not and cannot be replicated inside organisms, cells, or viruses are not considered rDNA.  Commonly encountered examples of synthetic DNA not considered to be rDNA include Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) products, synthetic oligonucleotides/primers, and complementary DNA (cDNA) obtained by reverse transcription of RNA.

  5. Human or non-human primate blood and blood products, human or non-human primate body fluids, human or non-human primate tissue and/or human or non-human cell lines.
  6. Toxins produced by living organisms (>1 mg of pure toxin, or solutions with concentrations of >1 mg/ml pure toxin). This provision excludes toxins covered by the Select Agent regulations (see #8 below).
  7. Whenever a contractual agreement or grant proposal requires Institutional Biosafety Committee approval for the safe handling of a biological or chemical product.
  8. HHS and USDA Select Agents and Toxins, as defined in Federal Regulations 7CFR331, 9CFR121, and 42CRF73, Additional Requirements for Facilities Transferring or Receiving Select Agents, Public Law 107-188, Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act.  These regulations also apply to nucleic acids that can produce infectious forms of any select agent virus, and recombinant nucleic acids that encode the functional forms of any select agent toxin.
  9. USDA Restricted Animal Pathogens, as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which are listed in Appendix A.
  10. Wild Poliovirus or materials that may contain wild poliovirus [contact Environmental Health and Safety (814) 865-6391 for additional information on this subject].