Jul. 29, 2022

 

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) at UNLV creates and supports an environment that promotes the ethical and responsible conduct of research while assisting researchers to comply with federal, state, NSHE, and local regulations with regard to research.

One important area of research integrity is the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).

The mission of the IBC is to ensure that all hazardous biological materials utilized at UNLV facilities are given appropriate review and oversight, and to promote the practice of safe biological research for the protection of UNLV faculty, staff, students, visitors, and the community.

Kevin Bergeron is the Manager of Biological Research Programs. Kevin’s duties include regulatory oversight for ORI and he is also the IBC Administrator. He gives us insight into role of IBC at UNLV.

What is the Institutional Biosafety Committee?

All institutional biosafety committees (IBC), including the UNLV IBC, are charged under the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules with providing local institutional review and oversight of research utilizing recombinant DNA. UNLV has chosen to expand the IBC duties to include reviewing all research involving biohazards or potential biohazards conducted at UNLV facilities.

Why is it important to UNLV?

The mission of UNLV’s Institutional Biosafety Committee is to ensure that all hazardous biological materials utilized at UNLV facilities are given appropriate review and oversight, and to promote the practice of safe biological research for the protection of UNLV faculty, staff, students, visitors, and the community.

What is your role with IBC?

I am the IBC administrator.  I receive the applications for research proposals, screen them, prepare the submissions for the IBC committee members and setup the meetings.  After the meetings I send the submissions back to the PI for revisions or clarifications based on the questions and comments from the committee. This process goes back and forth until the proposal is given final approval.  I also maintain our IBC registration with NIH. 

How often does the IBC meet? 

The IBC meets 3-4 times a year.  We do not have a standing schedule for meetings.  We usually schedule meetings as needed.

Who are the members? 

Ronald Gary (Chair), Ernesto Abel-Santos, George Fratus, Jeffery Shen, Edwin Oh, Graham McGinnis, Robert Kirsh, and Stacy Regenhard.

Our IBC members are often PIs that have their own IBC approved research projects.  They serve as peer reviewers for the rest of campus. All IBC members volunteer their time, including the two required non-institutional members.  A non-institutional member’s role is to represent the interest of the general public and local community. 

What are the most pressing issues for the committee? 

Safety.  Our top priority is making sure that infectious or potentially infectious material is used safely.  We pay particular attention to material handling, PPE, containment, disinfection and disposal. 

How do the IBC policies work for students? Is there any difference from faculty and staff?

Only UNLV faculty that meet the PI eligibility policy requirements can apply for IBC approval of a project. It’s up to the PI to then ensure their staff and students working in the lab are properly trained in biosafety procedures according to their IBC approved proposals.

Do you collaborate with other universities or is each institution unique? 

Each institution has its own IBC but we often receive or send materials from other universities, private industry, or even collect samples offsite.  The general rule of thumb is that each location where the material is going to be used for research is where the IBC review and approval is needed.