Biological Safety


As a major research institution, the UW-Madison must provide assurances that its biomedical laboratory practices are in compliance with state and federal regulations and guidelines.

Office of Biological Safety

At UW-Madison, the Office of Biological Safety (OBS) provides oversight and assistance in assuring compliance with all laws, regulations, and rules governing biomedical laboratory practices and facilities.

The OBS is the administrative office of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), which reviews research activities involving biologically hazardous materials and/or recombinant DNA molecules/organisms.

Biosafety Protocols

OBS requires submission of a Biosafety Protocol for research activities involving:

  • Microbiological agents infectious to humans and/or animals.
  • Exotic plants, animals, and microbes (e.g., nonindigenous plants or insect pathogens, or biological control agents)
  • Potentially infectious materials derived from humans (e.g., established cell lines) and from animals, including their blood, tissues, and cell lines, for which a reasonable potential for transmission of zoonotic agents exists, e.g., wild-trapped animals, sheep, and rhesus macaques.
  • Select agents. CDC regulates these microbes and toxins due to their threat to public health and safety.
  • Recombinant DNA molecules and recombinant DNA-containing organisms or cell cultures which are subject to the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules. Please contact OBS about requirements for protocols involving human gene therapy trials. (Many rDNA experiments are considered to be low-risk yet still are subject to the Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules.)
  • Prions: proteins that reproduce independently and cause spongiform diseases (chronic wasting disease in deer, elk; mad cow disease in cattle; Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans)

Investigator Requirements

Investigators planning to work with materials/organisms listed above must:


UW-Madison Campus Resources
Biosafety Protocol Instructions and FormsOBS biosafety protocol instructions and forms
First Report of Exposure/Release FormOnline form for reporting potential exposures to or releases of organisms/biological toxins
UW Madison Office of Biological Safety (OBS)Office of Biological Safety main site
Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC)Forms, links, and training information for researchers using DURC Agents
Biosafety TrainingAll lab personnel (including PIs and graduate students) involved in biological research must complete specified training courses  within 30 days of beginning work on campus.
Biosafety Guidebooks
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th EditionCDC Guidance for the use of Microbiological’s in Research Laboratories
Lab Guidance/Policy Information
Lab Safety Guide, bloodborne pathogens, chemical hygiene plan, pesticides, hazmat shipping and DEA controlled substance information.
External Resources
NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA MoleculesNIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines)
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)Information on regulations and permits for import/export and transport of exotic plants, animals, and microbes (e.g., nonindigenous plants or insect pathogens, or biological control agents).


General Compliance Questions

Cheryl Deering
CALS Research Compliance Specialist
(608) 262-2536

Office of Biological Safety

For individual OBS staff contacts, see Office of Biological Safety Staff page