Team:CSU Fort Collins/Safety


Safety Overview

There are no areas of our projects that would raise safety issues within researcher safety, public safety, or environmental safety. Although the public often expresses a negative attitude toward any GMO-derived product, we took great care to ensure that no antibiotics would be required to keep our yeast strains expressing the correct plasmid for gluten degradation or water desalination. While it was an important safety precaution that no alcohol be consumed during our project, especially alcohol derived from our genetically modified yeast strains, we do not envision any safety hazards with doing so; one yeast geneticist exclaimed that he would be comfortable drinking our beer, “as long as we were not the ones brewing it.”

Last year, our iGEM team met with the University Biosafety Officer at CSU, Dr. Robert P. Ellis, who was very happy to hear about our research and acknowledged that, “Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae and E.coli K-12 was exempt Host-Vector Systems as per the sections of the rDNA Guidelines.”

Safety is an important part of every project, and was a key focus of our iGEM 2013 efforts. With many members of the team inexperienced in basic lab techniques and the proper handling of microbial organisms, the chief safety concern for this summer revolved primarily around standard lab practices.

When working in the lab, it is paramount to follow safety procedures in order to minimize health risks of the participants directly and indirectly involved. Examples of common safety followings involved wearing gloves when dealing with hazardous chemicals, maintaining sanitized work equipment when dealing with objects that come into contact with people, and keeping chemicals and materials properly stored. It is also crucial to keep a very clean and organized lab environment in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Our iGEM team spent a great deal of time this summer learning proper safety techniques when utilizing synthetic biology in the laboratory. As this was only the second year CSU has had an iGEM team, the experience gained will be used to make future CSU iGEM teams more efficient and competitive while maintaining a high standard for rigor and safety.

View our completed safety form here.