The University of Iowa

Institutional Biosafety Committee

The University of Iowa is committed to fostering the excellence of laboratory safety.  All members of the UI community are required to conduct university operations in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations as well as with University health and safety standards and practices.

Laboratory Compliance Policy for Biological Hazards


The University of Iowa is committed to the safe, legal, and ethical use of biological materials in its facilities.  Acting as an agent for the University in regulating work involving such materials, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)* shall ensure that work in the following four categories (the “Covered Work”) meets all applicable safety, legal, and ethical requirements.

  1. Work involving biological agents, including but not limited to, those agents in all risk groups defined in Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL).
  2. Recombinant DNA (rDNA) as defined by the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic DNA Molecules (NIH Guidelines).
  3. Dual use research of concern as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
  4. Select agents and toxins (SAT), regulated either by DHHS or by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Part A. Name, Authority, and Formation

  1. The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the Institutional Official (IO), designated and charged by the University President, have established the IBC, and the IO has the authority to appoint members to the IBC.
  2. OVPR and the IO have charged the IBC with the responsibility and authority to regulate the Covered Work. The IBC shall base its decisions and actions related to Covered Work on applicable regulations and guidance documents referenced above, The University of Iowa’s Biological Safety Manual, and other documents describing good laboratory practices.
  3. The IBC shall report to the IO regarding regulatory matters related to the Covered Work. 
  4. The IBC membership shall be consistent with the NIH Guidelines
  5. The Responsible Official (RO) designated by OVPR and charged under the SAT regulations, shall be a member of the IBC.
  6. User group committees shall be established to manage the operations of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) SAT/Biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facility and the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) SAT/BSL3 facility. 
  7. The user group committees shall operate under and report to the IBC.
  8. Membership of the user group committees shall consist of current or previous users of the facilities, in addition to the RO, the ARO, and in the case of the CCOM user group committee, a veterinarian.  Efforts shall be made to ensure that together the members of each user group committee are knowledgeable regarding the range of microorganisms or toxins being studied in the facility it manages.

Part B.  IBC Administrative Aspects

  1. The IBC shall meet as often as necessary to address issues regarding the Covered Work. 
  2. Administrative support for the IBC shall be provided by the Environmental Health & Safety Office (EHS) biosafety staff.  
  3. An IBC meeting shall only be convened when a quorum (at least 50% of the voting members) is present.  An IBC member can request to be placed on a temporary leave of absence, during which time they will be designated as a non-voting member.
  4. An IBC member shall recuse himself/herself from participating in any aspect of the review of a research project if any one or more of the following circumstances exists:
    1. An IBC member holds a significant financial interest in the project.
    2. An IBC member is part of the project team, or has a parent, spouse, domestic partner, or child who is part of the project team.
    3. An IBC member holds either a subordinate or supervisory role relative to a principal investigator or co-investigator of the project that reasonably could affect his/her impartiality or the perception thereof.
    4. An IBC member serves as a mentor to a graduate student, post-doctoral scholar, or any other trainee involved in the project.
    5. An IBC member has any other personal interest or role that leads that IBC member, in his or her own best judgment, to believe that he/she lacks impartiality in relation to the project.
  5. The IBC shall consider in its deliberations and base its decisions relating to the Covered Work on the BMBL, the NIH Guidelines, SAT regulations, NSABB documents, the University of Iowa Biological Safety Manual, and other relevant external and internal reference documents.
  6. The IBC shall review all Covered Work directly, or through EHS biosafety staff who report summaries of their findings to the IBC, at least on an annual basis to ensure compliance with applicable regulations.
  7. Administration of the user group committees:
    1. The user group committees shall meet as often as necessary to review and approve proposals for experiments prior to their being initiated, and to address other issues regarding the use of their respective facilities.
    2. The user group committees shall meet at least annually to review, and when appropriate revise, the facilities’ procedural documents.

Part C.  Responsibilities of the IBC

  1. The IBC shall ensure through the following actions that the Covered Work performed at the University meets all applicable safety, legal, and ethical requirements.
  2. The IBC shall make recommendations to the IO and develop proposals for policies regarding Covered Work that shall be reviewed and approved by the IO prior to implementation.
  3. The IBC shall educate the University community and other stakeholders regarding requirements relating to the Covered Work.
  4. The IBC shall maintain cooperative relationships with persons involved in the Covered Work.
  5. The IBC shall develop and implement appropriate administrative procedures for regulating the Covered Work.
  6. The IBC shall ensure that the annual report containing the IBC roster is filed in a timely manner with National Institutes of Health/Office of Biotechnology Activities (NIH/OBA) as required under the NIH Guidelines.

Specific Covered Work

Work involving biological agents, including but not limited to, those defined in BMBL

  1. The IBC shall establish, directly or through EHS biosafety staff, and/or adopt by reference, institutional procedural guidelines to ensure the safe possession and use of biological agents.
  2. The IBC shall establish containment levels for projects involving biological agents where formal containment levels have not been established.  In such instances, the process for establishing a containment level may be initiated through submission of a Biohazard Agent Use Review form by a person who will be involved in the proposed experiments, a member of the IBC, or EHS biosafety staff. 

Recombinant DNA research

The IBC shall ensure that all research involving rDNA complies with the NIH Guidelines.

Dual Use Research of Concern

  1. The Institutional Review Entity (IRE) shall review rDNA research identified as Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) in compliance with the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences DURC and the University’s Institutional DURC Oversight Program.  The results of all such reviews of DURC shall be submitted to OVPR for further consideration.
  2. The IBC will periodically review the University’s Institutional DURC Oversight Program.

Oversight of SAT work

  1. The IBC shall ensure that all experiments involving SAT comply with all SAT regulations.
  2. The CCOM SAT/BSL3 and the SHL SAT/BSL3 user group committees shall prepare and revise as needed their respective procedural manuals required under SAT regulations and submit these manuals to the IBC for review and approval.  The committees also shall review and approve proposals for working with SAT or other BSL3 organisms in their respective facilities.
  3. The IBC shall review and approve revisions to the laboratory safety/operations manuals, biosecurity plans, and emergency response plans for the SAT/BSL3 laboratories.
  4. The IBC shall make certain that the RO and ARO have the authority to ensure compliance with SAT regulations, and that to this end the RO and ARO conduct annual compliance audits of the laboratories authorized to possess, use, and store SAT.  The IBC shall ensure that any compliance deficiencies are corrected in a timely manner.
  5. The IBC shall ensure at least on an annual basis that the RO or ARO has registered with the U.S. Federal Government all persons working with SAT as required by SAT regulations.
  6. The IBC shall ensure that the RO or ARO shall report immediately the release, loss, or theft of a SAT to the appropriate entities, which may include, but not be limited to the IBC Chair, DHHS, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Johnson County Public Health, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the University Police (if theft is involved) as mandated by the applicable regulations.


  • ARO, Associate Responsible Official
  • BMBL, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories
  • BSL, Biosafety level
  • CCOM, Carver College of Medicine
  • DHHS, Department of Health and Human Services
  • DURC, Dual use research of concern
  • EHS, Environmental Health & Safety Office
  • IBC, Institutional Biosafety Committee
  • IO, Institutional Official
  • NIH Guidelines, NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic DNA Molecules
  • NIH/OSP, NIH/Office of Science Policy
  • NSABB, National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity
  • OVPR, Office of the Vice President for Research
  • RO, Responsible Official
  • SAT,Select agents and toxins
  • SHL, State Hygienic Laboratory
  • USDA, United States Department of Agriculture

S.J. Ryan Arends, Ph.D. - Non-University Representative

Dr. Arends received his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa studying the cell division in the gram-negative bacterium E. coli. In 2009, Dr. Arends joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals where he was promoted to the rank of Research Scientist II and was involved in numerous antimicrobial discovery projects. Since 2016, Dr. Arends has worked at JMI Laboratories, which specializes in monitoring global antimicrobial drug resistance and in conducting antimicrobial drug development studies for biotech and pharmaceutical companies currently as an Associate Director.
Dr. Arends can be reached by email or phone, 319-665-3370 x256.

Adam Clore, Ph.D. - Non-University Representative

Dr. Clore received his Ph.D. at Portland State University studying the evolution and genetics of the Fuselloviruses. After a post-doctoral fellowship researching mechanisms of DNA repair after exposure to genotoxins at Oregon Health and Science University he moved to his current position at Integrated DNA Technologies working as a technical specialist and in the development of products used in synthetic biology. 
Dr. Clore can be reached by email. 

Leonard R. Duncan, Ph.D. - Research Assistant Scientist, Microbiology

Dr. Duncan received his Ph.D. at Harvard studying the process of sporulation in the gram-positive bacterium B. subtilis. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, studying the development of Volvox, he worked for several years as a microbiologist at an antibiotic drug-discovery company in Dallas. In 2006, Dr. Duncan joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals where he was promoted to the rank of Research Fellow I and was project lead or biology lead on numerous antimicrobial discovery projects. Dr. Duncan then served as an Associate Director at JMI Laboratories from 2015 until late 2023, when he joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology Department at the University of Iowa as a Research Assistant Scientist.
Dr. Duncan can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-7622

Hillel Haim, M.D., Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Microbiology

Dr. Haim received his M.D and Ph.D degrees from Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel). As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA) he studied the structure and function of the envelope glycoproteins of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Dr. Haim’s lab combines molecular and computational tools to study the mechanisms that viruses apply to persist in the host. Special attention is given to developing computational strategies to predict changes in structure of virus proteins, for tailoring therapeutics to patients and vaccines to populations.
Dr. Haim can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-9989.

Bradley D. Jones, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Microbiology

Dr. Jones’s background is in bacterial genetics and pathogenesis. The focus of his research is to identify and characterize the virulence factors of pathogenic Francisella bacteria as well as Salmonella pathogens. His research involves bacterial genetic approaches to create mutants that are defective in various pathogenic mechanisms and then to identify the sites of mutation and characterize how the mutation affects bacterial virulence using in vitro and in vivo techniques. 
Dr. Jones can be reached by emial or phone, 319-353-5457.

Louis V. Kirchhoff, M.D., M.P.H., Chair - Professor, Internal Medicine (Infectious Diseases) & Epidemiology

Dr. Kirchhoff studies the molecular biology of Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease, and uses recombinant and non-recombinant approaches to develop serodiagnostic assays for this illness. 
Dr. Kirchhoff can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-6786.

Maria Martino-Cardona, D.V.M. - Clinical Veterinarian, Office of Animal Resources

Dr. Martino-Cardona received her D.V.M. from Cornell University in 2007. In 2010 she completed a residency in Laboratory Animal Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and became board certified in Laboratory Animal Medicine in 2010. Dr. Martino-Cardona has been employed by the University of Iowa since 2010. 
Dr. Martino-Cardona can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-7985.

Nyree Mortensen, Ph.D., RBP(ABSA)- Biosafety Officer/Select Agent Responsible Official, Environmental Health & Safety

Dr. Mortensen received her Ph.D. from Yale University where she conducted translational research with a main focus on the development of novel gene therapies for flaviviral infections. Prior to that, she received her M.S. from New Mexico State University where she researched the molecular determinants of transmission mode for viruses within the genus Flavivirus. Dr. Mortensen joined the Environmental Health & Safety Office in 2014. 
Dr. Mortensen can be reached by email or phone, 319-353-5679.

James T. Sheets, D.V. M. - Director, Office of Animal Resources

Dr. Sheets received his D.V. M. degree from Iowa State University in 1991 and following a 22 year career in the U.S. Army, joined the University of Iowa's veterinary staff in 2013. As Associate Director for the University's Office of Animal Resources (OAR), Dr. Sheets provides direct support to the OAR Director by assisting with oversight of the animal facility operations, veterinary care and animal husbandry programs, and the University's accreditation through the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC-I). Dr. Sheets also serves as a Council member for the AALAC-I Council on Accreditation. 
Dr. Sheets can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-7985.

Haley W. Sinn, Ph.D., CBSP(ABSA) - Director/Select Agent Alternate Responsible Official - Environmental Health & Safety

Dr. Sinn received her Ph.D. and completed post-doctoral training at the University of Iowa; her research focused on characterizing novel Xin genes in mouse development and utilizing the fibronectin attachment protein of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin as a delivery vehicle for therapeutic drugs in the treatment of superficial bladder cancer, respectively. Dr. Sinn joined the Environmental Health & Safety Office in 2005. 
Dr. Sinn can be reached by email or phone, 319-335-9553.

Jack Stapleton, MD - Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases; Director, Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis

Dr. Stapleton received his M.D. from the University of Kansas, and completed Internal Medicine residency, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology fellowship training at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Stapleton conducts clinical-translational research on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and vaccines, and he conducts laboratory research related to virus-immune interactions using a variety of viral systems including HIV, HCV, vaccinia, and others. 
Dr. Stapleton can be reached by email or phone, 319-356-3168.

Jinhua Xiang, MD - Associate Research Scientist, Department of Internal Medicine 

Dr. Xiang graduated and received his M.D from West-China University of Medical Sciences., Chengdu China. He also received his Master’s degree on Microbiology & Immunology from Peking Union Medical School, Beijing China. Dr. Xiang had been working on Hepatitis A virus vaccine development and Polio vaccine production in the Institute of Medical Biology, Kunming China. He joined the University of Iowa & VA Medical Center in 1996 and works on immune-virus interactions related to GB virus C, Hepatitis C virus, HIV, Yellow Fever virus and other viruses.
Dr. Xiang can be reached by email or phone 319-338-0581 Ext. 7670

IBC Meetings

Meetings are held every other Thursday. For more information regarding meetings, please call or email the Biological Safety Officer - Nyree Mortensen, 319-353-5679.