Resources & FAQs


University of Chicago's Office of Biological Safety (OBS)

Contact Information

Website: Office of Research Safety - Biological Safety
(773) 834-2707
Send email inquiries to

OBS Services and Responsibilities

  • Conducts preliminary reviews and risk assessments of all Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) protocols upon submission
  • Assists Principal Investigators in performing risk assessments and completing IBC protocol forms (upon request)
  • Advises laboratory personnel on biosafety matters
  • Conducts annual laboratory inspections for BSL2 and BSL3
  • Provides guidance on rDNA guidelines and associated regulations as well as other aspects of genetic engineering, including Dual Use Research of Concern.
  • Performs initial biosafety inspections of laboratories using rDNA and/or pathogenic agents to ensure that labs are equipped and the investigators are prepared for research as described in their IBC protocols.
  • Provides appropriate biohazard signage for posting in laboratories using biological agents
  • Provides guidance on the design of biocontainment laboratories and the purchase of containment equipment such as Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs).
  • Recommends methods of handling, transporting, decontaminating and disposing of biohazardous materials
  • Manages the UChicago Select Agent Program.
  • Through laboratory inspections, provides assistance with lab-specific research safety risk assessment, recommends safe laboratory procedures, advises regarding containment devices and equipment, and confirms regulatory compliance.
  • Prepares and provides basic biosafety training via classroom and web-based formats.
  • Collaborates with UC Departments of Occupational Medicine and Infectious Diseases to appropriately manage laboratory exposures to potentially infectious agents or materials and to monitor laboratory staff for symptoms indicative of potential laboratory acquired infections.


Use of biohazardous materials in your laboratory may impose special requirements on, for example, the air handling, the location of the eye-wash station and autoclave, the type of hood, and the need for protective garb. Representatives from the Safety Offices perform training. Departments required to meet regulatory training requirements should contact the applicable Safety Offices in order to make training arrangements. Moreover, these offices conduct initial and annual inspections of laboratories using biohazardous materials to ensure compliance with regulations. 

Medical Center Safety Office: (773) 702-1733

Environmental health & Safety: (773) 702-9999

Office of Research Safety: (773) 834-2707

For all emergencies, please contact the University Police at ext. 123 from a campus phone.

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories

This document recommends best practices for the safe conduct of work in biomedical and clinical laboratories from a biosafety perspective. It includes information on agricultural pathogens, biological toxins, BSL3 laboratories, decontamination and sterilization, biosecurity and risk assessment of the laboratory, and occupational medicine.