(Sorry for only Chinese version.)

The policy not only includes the main clauses in safety guideline of laboratory but also add a few special requirements as well as some tips. For instance, “having a good mood” is documented as the top one because keeping your mind clean, clear, positive and free is usually a good way to ensure the correctness and safety of experiments. In order to guarantee the implementation of the policy, we chose one of our team members as a supervisor.

Q & A

Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:

Researcher Safety

Escherichia coli, as an engineering bacterium, is the cell line that we normally work with. As an engineering bacterium, it has been documented as a non-hazard microbe and extensively used for decades. The carcinogenic experiment reagents, such as Ethidium bromide the DNA dye, had been replaced by less harmful reagents before initiating the project. Moreover, we followed the rules and firmly believe that the safety is always priority to our project.

Public Safety

Our project is only a demonstrated project and is not involved in any direct contact between the bacteria and the public. The key is the visual effect caused by the microbes instead of the products of bacteria or bacteria itself. i.e. the biothermomap may only use for non-commercial and non-profit purpose and the bacteria would not be spread out and used by other institutions, except in our lab.

Environmental Safety

No. Theoretically, after the demonstration of our project, our bacteria would be disposed of properly and immediately. No further investigations are required. Even if there are experimental bacteria accidentally entering natural environment, they are highly unlikely to pose a threat given the overloaded bacteria and the harmless nature of themselves.

Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?

No. we did not use any new BioBrick parts. All BioBrick parts were derived from the previous iGEM team or the literature and which all had been expressed in E. coli previously and no hazardous conclusion was drawn. The only difference is that integrating various protein genes into one construction forms a relatively complicated bacteria internal environment, which is inclined to weaken the cells.

Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution? If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?

No. To be honest, there is NO any biosafety-related group, committee, or review board at our institution. This is probably a universal answer for Chinese biological institutions. We wouldn’t dare to affirm that Chinese government completely neglects the biosafety issue but can tell that the economic benefits always outweigh the costs on the biosafety in the view of a vast majority of proprietors. Fortunately, in our lab, there is a strict safety assessment procedure devised by the lab managers and which is fully capable of ensuring the safety of the researchers. All in all, biosafety is an oversight that we normally have in China. We are obligatory on improving the understanding of the importance of biosafety and in order to change the situation in a large scale, we are hereby looking forward to the assistance of Chinese government.

Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?

An approach is to establish a risk assessment section in our Wiki page to allow diverse groups to comment and point out the potential risks. It cannot be denied that there is a possibility creating some sorts of superbugs unexpectedly. But most of the biohazards are foreseeable and predictable. Different groups may look at biosafety problems from completely different perspectives, which is conducive to discovering the risks on the early stage.