For the iGEM competition, most of our activities is hosted by the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology (iSSB), which is a research unit of Université d’Evry-Val-d’Essonne. It is fully equipped for bacterial genetics and molecular biology work in terms of devices and has typical Biosafety Level 1 laboratories.
Before going starting our project, we had a safety training; we learned about: accession to the lab after work hours and weekend, fire risks and its related evacuation programs, biological risks and its waste handling, chemical risks and liquid chemical wastes. We were also informed about the rules regarding IT system security, although we did not use any common cluster.
Joan Herisson (Research engineer Univ. Evry, associate director of iSSB / SI manager / Platform abSYNTH) provided us a safety training meeting. Dominique Zeliszewski (CR1 CNRS, scientific communication & animation, Health & safety officer) provided us information and slides on the safety rules of iSSB.
When manipulating on the wet-lab, there is spreading risk of our engineered microorganism. In order to reduce that risk, we are wearing gloves, using biological trashes that will be incinerated, working under sterilized condition such as under a biological hood which is washed with ethanol 70% before and after each work session, and all the containers contaminated with our microorganism are washed with bleach during several hours.
We are also using some chemicals and reagents that can be dangerous for our lives. In order to reduce this risk, we are wearing adequate protection (gloves, labcoat, masks and protective glasses according to the situation) and when necessary we are working under chemical hood.
Our team is under daily supervision of Cecile Jacry (best advisor ever!!). We receive regular help as well from Prof. Ioana Popescu, engineer and hygiene and security correspondent, assisted by Dr. Dominique Zeliszewski, as well as from Cyrille Pauthenier and Vincent Libis, Ph.D. students working on site. All the iSSB research teams are always around to help and advise us about good laboratory practices.
All the standard molecular biology protocols we used in our experimentations are not dangerous for the researchers. However, our team worked with potentially dangerous substances:
- Midori green: Nucleic acid stain. It is a safer alternative to the traditional Ethidium bromide .
- Ethidium bromide (BET): DNA intercalant needing UVs for detection of DNA
- Methanol: chemical solvent used in HPLC experiment.
Check out our Official Safety form
Link for the guidelines for laboratory biosafety of CNRS: CNRS, Risques Biologiques.
Laboratory Safety manual from the World Health Organization: WHO Lab Safety manual
Link for laws and regulations that govern biosafety in research laboratories in France: Directives of European Union for Laboratories