UC San Diego SearchMenu

UCSD Biosafety Program

Learn about UC San Diego's institutional Biosafety Program.

Research Safety News

It is the policy of the university that all research, clinical, and teaching activities involving biohazardous materials will be conducted in a safe manner in order to protect the greater community at large, as well as the academic community.

Expand all

About UCSD's Biosafety Program


The Biosafety Program adopted by UCSD's Institutional Biosafety Committee identifies practices, procedures, facility construction, and operational standards for safe handling and use of biohazardous materials for research, clinical, and teaching activities at UC San Diego.


The UCSD Biosafety Program applies to all UCSD faculty, staff, hosted visitors, students, participating guests and volunteers, contract laborers, supplemental personnel, and employees of firms working at locations where UCSD has management control of specific biohazards.

The UCSD Biosafety Program does not apply to UC San Diego Medical Center hospitals or clinics directly covered under the UCSD Medical Center license.


UCSD's Biosafety Program is implemented by the Biosafety Officer in Environment, Health & Safety.

UCSD Biosafety Handbook

The UCSD Biosafety Handbook (PDF) is the primary reference for practices, procedures, facility construction, and operational standards required for safe handling and use of biohazardous materials for research, clinical, and teaching activities at UC San Diego.

Biohazard Use Authorization (BUA)

Biohazardous materials

Definition of Biohazardous Materials

Biohazards are infectious agents or hazardous biological materials that present a risk or potential risk to the health of humans, animals, or the environment. The risk can be direct through infection or indirect through damage to the environment.

Biohazardous materials include recombinant DNA; organisms and viruses infectious to humans, animals, or plants (e.g. parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions, rickettsia); and biologically active agents (i.e. toxins, allergens, venoms) that may cause disease in other living organisms or cause significant impact to the environment or community.

Biological materials you may not consider to be biohazardous may be regulated by regulations and guidelines as biohazardous materials.

NO Risk Group 4 Agents may be used or stored at UC San Diego.

Biohazardous materials and organisms covered in UC San Diego's Biosafety Program include:

  • Biological toxins
  • Infectious organisms that can cause disease in humans or cause significant environmental or agricultural impact
  • Human or primate tissues, fluids, cells, or cell cultures
  • Animal tissues, fluids, cells, or cell cultures that have been exposed to infectious organisms
  • Recombinant DNA in vitro, in vivo, and in clinical trials
  • Transgenic plants or animals
  • Human gene transfer clinical trials
  • Releases of recombinant DNA to the environment
  • Animals known to be reservoirs of zoonotic diseases
  • Select Agents
Related links:

Biohazardous waste

Biosafety Level Practices (BSL)

Bloodborne Pathogens Program (BBP)

Clinical trials with rDNA


Disinfecting | Decontamination

Emergency procedures

Equipment | Services


Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) oversees use of biohazard materials by:

  • Creating and enforcing policies and procedures
  • Reviewing the use of biohazard materials
  • Monitoring construction and use of biohazard containment facilities

IBC activities are guided by university policy, national guidelines, industry standards, and federal, state, and county regulations. The IBC reviews and approves all projects that involve biohazard materials before work begins.

Submission dates: BUA applications are reviewed at the IBC's monthly meeting. See the 2014 IBC Important Dates schedule (PDF) for due dates.

Lab moves or closure

My Research Safety Web portal

Read about My Research Safety, a Web portal for centralized access to your Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) audits, inventory, and authorizations.

The Biosafety Information Online (BIO) application is on My Research Safety.

Occupational Health | Medical Surveillance

Principal investigators

Safety Data Sheets

Select Agents


Signs | Labels

Biohazard Signs

Biohazard signs feature the biohazard symbol (black on orange is common) to indicate the use of infectious agents.

Biohazard sign

Biosafety Level Signs

BSL signs posted at a facility entrance specify the biosafety level (BSL) of containment and operational precautions observed within.

A facility may be BSL 1, 2, or 3, with 3 being the highest level of precautions. BSL 3 labs are rare at UCSD.

Unauthorized entry into BSL 3 labs is prohibited.

See the Biosafety Level (BSL) Practices Chart for UC San Diego's laboratory containment requirements and practices.

Biosafety Level Sign

Clean Area Signs

Eating, drinking, food storage, application of cosmetics, and handling of contact lenses in research laboratories is permitted only in approved, posted Clean Areas.

Clean Areas are not permitted in rooms where aerosol transmissible pathogens are manipulated or rooms approved at biosafety level 2+ or 3.

See Laboratory Clean Areas for requirements.

Laboratory Clean Area Sign



Biohazard sign

Biohazardous materials must be clearly identified and stored in such a manner as to preclude accidental exposure.

This normally includes double containment and labeling the freezer/refrigerator with the biohazard symbol.

Tissue culture


Vivarium safety

Related resources

Government and research institutions

Reference sources

Regulations and policies


UCSD committees

Expand all

Note: This page has a friendly link that's easy to remember: http://blink.ucsd.edu/go/bio