We chose to work with a common chassis, E. coli W3110 and DH5alpha, which has been well characterized for safe use within the lab. Our biobricks are used in combination with a plasmid-based recombination system to knock-out target genes. Both our chassis and our parts are nonpathogenic and therefore fall under BSL 1.
Before beginning lab work, all members were required to complete the Texas Tech Laboratory Safety Courses which included general lab safety, safety awareness, lab biological safety, and lab hazard communication training before being allowed to access the lab. These online modules explained standard safety procedures, handling of biological and chemical reagents, waste disposal procedures, and emergency preparedness. These modules ensured that our members understand the appropriate behavior and procedures to be followed in a research laboratory. In addition, senior members and advisors provided hands on training for laboratory practices, which included a tour of the lab and detailed instructions regarding standard procedures in a BSL 1 laboratory setting. The specific topics discussed were hand-washing before and after work in the lab, proper labelling procedures, prohibiting food and drink, proper disposal of sharp and biological waste, wearing PPE when appropriate, sterile technique, safe use of equipment, and following proper decontamination/clean-up procedures.