Safety and Security Hub

Welcome to the 2018 Safety and Security Hub!

iGEM expects all teams to demonstrate to iGEM HQ, the wider community, and to anyone interested how you are working safely and securely. Teams do this by thinking carefully about and managing any risks to yourselves, your colleagues, community, or the environment. You need to continue to think about risks throughout your project and revisit these issue as your plans change. We also want you to think about any risks should your project ever become a product.

We expect everyone involved with iGEM to act responsibly throughout the competition. Please read our Responsibilities page for more information on the roles and responsibilities of team members, instructors, and what you can expect from iGEM's Safety and Security Committee.

To assist in addressing safety and security risks, we have developed clear rules and policies that need to be followed. To help you understand what we are asking you to do and why, we have also developed tools, guidance and support to help you. To make it easier to provide the types of information needed, below you will find the forms to be completed after your planning stage, whenever you want to use something not on our White List, and before the Jamboree. To support you working safely and securely, iGEM has a dedicated Safety and Security Committee made up from experts around the world.

Working Safely and Securely in iGEM


In iGEM, we have clear expectations for teams when it comes to safety and security, including for Project Design, Laboratory Work, and Transfer Practices.

Keep it in the lab

iGEM teams should not release any genetically modified organisms or their products outside the lab (or put them in people). See the Do Not Release policy for more information on complying with laws, being responsible and what constitutes a release.

Safety and Security Rules

  1. Teams must use the Safety and Security Form, to provide information on any safety and security risks from their project and steps taken to manage them.

  2. Teams must complete a Check-In Form before using parts and organisms not on the White List , and submit an animal use request form before using vertebrates.

  3. The Instructor or Primary Contact must sign off the Safety and Security Form and any animal use request form before using vertebrates.

  4. All deadlines for providing safety and security information must be met.

  5. Teams must be in full compliance with iGEM's safety and security policies.

  6. Teams must work in the biosafety level appropriate for their project. If your project involves organisms and parts that can be used safely in a BSL1 lab, you should not work at higher containment levels. If this is not possible an explanation must be provided in the Safety and Security Form

  7. Teams must follow iGEM shipment requirements when submitting samples

  8. Teams must follow all biosafety and biosecurity rules of their institution and all biosafety and biosecurity laws of their country

  9. Teams cannot conduct work with Risk Group 3 or 4 organisms

  10. Teams cannot conduct research in a Safety Level 3 or 4 laboratory

  11. Teams cannot conduct work with parts from a Risk Group 4 organism

  12. Teams cannot release or deploy their project outside of the laboratory (including putting them in people) at any time during the competition or at the Giant Jamboree

  13. If you conduct any experiment with human subjects (including non-invasive experiments, such as surveys), you must comply with all rules of your institution/country that govern experiments with human subjects.


Failure to meet any of these requirements can lead to immediate disqualification from the competition and referral to the Responsible Conduct Committee.

Tools, Guidance, and Support

General guidelines for working in and outside the lab. These resources can help you understand some of iGEM's policies and rules.

Risk Groups

iGEM teams should use BL1 or BL2 organisms. Teams are not allowed to work with BL3 or BL4 organisms. For more information about Risk Groups, click here.

White List

The White List is a list of allowed organisms that teams can use in iGEM, along with organisms that require teams to contact HQ. For the full list, please click here.

Risk assessment tool

iGEM is working with experts from around the world to create a tool to help identify any risks associated with your project and steps you might take to manage them. This tool can help in completing the required safety and security form.

Working with samples from outside the lab

More and more teams are working with samples from the environment, the food industry or other non-traditional suppliers. To help teams work safely and securely with these samples iGEM has compiled guides and good practices.

Exemplary Projects

Over the years, we have seen many iGEM teams take safety and security seriously in their work. Explore how teams have approached safety in their work.

Ask your Instructors!

Your first resource is always your instructors, advisors, and professors. They have experience working in their own lab facilities, and they know how to work with your university to ensure lab safety and securely. If you have any questions or are having issues email us at safety AT iGEM DOT org. We love hearing from teams!

Safety Forms

These forms allow iGEM to know that you are doing your project safely and securely and that you are following all the rules. If you don't tell us, we don't know. If we don’t know, neither will anyone else. Fill out these forms as completely as possible. Include as much information as you can to demonstrate that your work is safe and secure, that you have identified any risks from your project, and what steps you are taking to manage those risks.

There are three forms that you can fill: The Animal Use form, the Check-In form, and the Safety and Security Form.

  • We encourage STUDENTS, instead of instructors, to complete these forms.
  • You will need an Instructor or PI to sign and submit the Safety and Security Form by the second deadline, before the Giant Jamboree.
  • While you type, the forms will automatically save your answers.

Complying with the safety and security requirements is a condition of competing at iGEM - that includes providing all the information in this form by the relevant deadlines. Failure to do so can lead to immediate disqualification from the competition and referral to the Responsible Conduct Committee.

Safety and Security Form

All teams must fill in this form.

June 29
An initial version of this form, with as much information as possible, is to be provided by the team.

September 7
The final version of this form must be signed off by the PI.

Check-In Form

Any team that plans to use any organism/part/activity that is NOT on the White List must use this form to get permission from the Safety and Security Committee before beginning work.

Animal Use Check-In Form

If your team is using any vertebrates (e.g. rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters), or higher order invertebrates (e.g. cuttlefish, octopus, squid, lobster) you will need to complete a Check-in form to tell us about any risks associated with your work and how you will be managing them.