Team:SDSZ China/Safety0

iGem SDSZ_China 2018

Safety is always the most important issue in every experiment. While we were doing our experiment, we took safety as the first thing we need to consider in our design. We considered safety in several different aspects: safety in the lab, safety during operation, and biosafety throughout the whole process. In order to ensure the safety in every step, we did a lot of investigation on the Internet and made sure that we understand the principles of biosafety and biosecurity.


We did all of our experiments in Watson Click lab, the most advanced biology lab in SDSZ. We made sure that we do not use any toxic chemicals that may harm the environment after leakage to conduct our experiment.

Safety during Experiment

While working on the synthesis of a certain enzyme to transfer chitin into chitosan, we used a few chemicals. While doing electrophoresis, we avoided anything that can be unsafe. Instead, we used Gelstain to dye, which is vey safe. We also used E. coli (BL21/DE3). They are not able to survive outside. Thus, even if a leakage happens, the environment will not be harmed. In addition 4-Nitroacetanilide is another chemical we used that is totally safe.

We are under strict training before being allowed to go into the lab and do experiment. Our instructor, Caifeng Chen, gave every student a thorough instruction video made by herself to help with the operations, including electrophoresis, spectrophotometer, and PCR. Students need to pass a test before entering the lab. When doing experiment that involves dangerous equipment, we are required to put on necessary gloves and goggles. Also, we are not allowed to eat or drink in the lab, which protects a clean and safe environment in the lab.


We are doing the experiments under the supervision of at least one other teammate, and the waste are collected as a whole and follow the school's biology department's waste treatment procedures exactly. Please give details of any steps you have taken to manage any risks identified. This might include things you deliberately didn't do. For example, if you are not conducting any experiments, especially on grounds of safety, security or as a responsible scientist / engineer, please note this. Examples might include, making sure you only use non-pathogenic strains of an organism, deciding that animal use experiments are not yet warranted, or avoiding plant infection experiments because the affected plant is found in your country.

Firstly, the safety issues of the experiment equipment. There are lots of safety issues regarding the experiment equipments. Therefore, we undergone lots of training and practices before starting our experiments. For instance, when we are doing the experiments in the sterile operation area, we are not allowed to open the device when the ultraviolet light is on. When we are using the burner to finish sterile operation, we make sure to practice the operation with the flame in a proper distance, at which the environment is sterile and the flame will not hurt us. When we are using the autoclave, we are asked to follow the instructions strictly so that we need to wait until the warning light turn off and the pressure is released, since it is dangerous in such a high pressure and high temperature state. After finishing those training and practice, we even had an exam to test our operation skills. During the test, we need to know how to deal with emergency. For instance, if we happen to turn down a burner, we need to cover the flame with wet towel immediately, and do further management. The tests are scored and everyone strengthens the operation of the equipment.
Secondly, the safety issues of reagents. For instance, TEMED, which has strong neurotoxicity, serves as a coagulant when making SDS-PAGE gel. To avoid the harm of TEMED during the experiments, we are asked to finish making SDS-PAGE gel in the fuming cupboard, where air system can expel the volatilized TEMED. We are also asked to seal the bottle of TEMED as soon as we get it. The GelStain, which is slightly radioactive and toxic, is used as a gel in the electrophoresis. When we are adding GelStain into the gel, we are asked to wear special gloves, which are only used in the specific step, to finish the operation.

The culture solution, which is used to culture bacteria for protein translation, needs to be dealt after we finish the experiment. We collect the culture solution and store it in a jar. We inactivate the waste culture solution in a high pressure and temperature condition. After those operations, we store the solution in a sealed jar. In addition, those waste liquid are well sealed in special large jars, which are treated by biological companies in charge.


Potential Risks?

We are only exposed to safe organisms, and we handle mostly nonhazardous chemicals like agarose, LB and SOB medium. But We also use the neurotoxic chemical polyacrylamide to run the polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In order to prevent any potential risks, we wear gloves and lab coats in lab, and we perform in a bio safety cabinet when handling toxic chemicals.
After developing into a real product, the software, if malfunctioned, can cause threat to the workers since the solution might be over heated and produce hot steam. But the other elements in the machine will not cause security or ethical risks.

How do our PIs supervise us during the experiment?

Our two PIs are all doctors in genetic engineering and they will oversee the entire part of the experiment.
The lab teachers and our faculty advisors are responsible for the safety and security issues of biology labs. For the biosafety officers, they evaluate our experiment design and point out any safety issues in our design. If there are any safety issues, they help us modify our design. Before starting our experiment, they gave us instructions and lots of training to help us finish the operation safely. During the experiment, they stay in the office and give us help as soon as we encounter any problems. Since they have lots of experience in genetic experiments, they can deal with problems effectively.