Skip to main content

System Status: 

Biosafety Program

Learn about the UC San Diego institutional Biosafety Program.

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.

About the Biosafety Program


The Biosafety Program adopted by Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) 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 Biosafety Program applies to all faculty, staff, hosted visitors, students, participating guests and volunteers, contract laborers, supplemental personnel, and employees of firms working at locations where the University has management control of specific biohazards.

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


The Biosafety Program is implemented by the Biosafety Officer in Environment, Health & Safety.

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.

    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:

    • Infectious organisms and agents that can cause disease in humans, animals, plants, or cause significant environmental or agricultural impact
    • Infectious Prions
    • Viral Vectors
    • Engineered cell-entry domains (i.e. TAT fusion proteins)
    • Nanomaterials used with biological systems, agents or materials
    • Nanomaterials used with biological systems or agents
    • Human and non-human primate tissues, fluids, cells or cell cultures
    • Animals, tissues, fluids, cells or cell cultures of animals that have been exposed to infectious organisms or are known to be reservoirs of zoonotic diseases
    • Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acids in vitro, in vivo, and in clinical trials or with the chance of being released into the environment
    • Transgenic plants or animals
    • Human gene transfer clinical trials
    • Biological toxins
    • Select Agents
    Related links:

Biohazardous waste

Biosafety Level Practices (BSL)

Bloodborne Pathogens Program (BBP)

Clinical trials


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 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 Biohazard Use Authorization (BUA) application is on My Research Safety.

NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules

Learn about the NIH safety practices and containment procedures for research and clinical trials involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. 

Occupational Health | Medical Surveillance

Principal investigators

Safety Data Sheets

Select Agents


Signs | Labels

Types of Biohazard Signs and Labels

Biohazard Signs

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

Larger equipment where biohazardous materials are used and/or stored, such as biosafety cabinets, incubators, refrigerators and freezers, must be visibly labeled with the universal biohazard symbol. 

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. 

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


UC San Diego committees

Contact EH&S Biosafety.
Note: This page has a friendly link that's easy to remember: