MIT established the Committee on Assessment of Biohazards (CAB) in January of 1975 in response to public concerns regarding the then new recombinant DNA technology.  The initial charge to the Committee was oversight of research involving recombinant DNA technology and potentially hazardous biological agents.  The CAB has voted to extend its purview twice since 1975. In 1995, the CAB voted to extend its purview to include oversight of research utilizing human materials such as human cells, tissues, blood, and prions.  In 2005, the CAB voted to extend its oversight role to include hES cell based research.  The name of the committee was altered to reflect this new responsibility. The CAB became the Committee on Assessment of Biohazards and Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (CAB/ESCRO). 

The CAB/ESCRO oversight process is based on the requirement that all biological research that falls within the committee’s purview is registered, reviewed and approved on an annual basis at meetings of the CAB/ESCRO. The CAB/ESCRO Review and Approval Process is based on the completion and submission of the Biological Research Registration Form to the EHS Office Biosafety Program. The Biosafety Program provides administrative support to the CAB/ESCRO. The Deputy Director for BSP serves as the Institutional Biosafety Officer and contact person for the CAB/ESCRO.

At MIT, the CAB/ESCRO must give annual approval for the continuation of all biological research involving:

  • recombinant DNA technologies

  • human, animal or plant pathogens including prions

  • primary human cells, tissues or materials

  • established human cell lines

  • human embryonic stem (hES) cells

  • use of biological agents at BL1 or greater including viral vectors

  • nanoparticle-based nucleic acid or drug delivery systems

The Committee has developed policies establishing guidelines for the safe and responsible conduct of biological research in the laboratory and the use of various biological materials in animals. The CAB/ESCRO along with the Biosafety Program work with the MIT Medical Department's Occupational Health Program to determine the necessity for immunizations, medical monitoring, or health surveillance for personnel involved in biological research projects.


Committee on the Assessment of Biohazards (CAB/ESCRO) Policies


  • Research Requiring BL2+ Containment

    • BL2+ Projects: Generic Requirements for BL2+ Laboratory Facility

    • Project-Specific BL2+/BL3 Biosafety Manual

  • Containment Levels for Viral Vectors

  • Guidelines on Containment for Research Involving rDNA and Infectious Agents for Undergraduates, and Younger Visitors to MIT and MIT-affiliated Facilities

  • Policy on Ducting of Biological Safety Cabinets in

    Research and Teaching Laboratories

  • Policy on the Use of Bunsen Burners and Other Heat Sources in Biological Safety Cabinets

  • Policy on Laboratory Moves and Closeouts

  • Policy for Safety Testing of Lentiviral Vector Stocks for Replication Competent Particles

  • Use of Biological Agents in Animals

  • Containment Levels for Use of Viral Vectors in Animals

  • Use of Primary Human Cells in Animals


Please contact BSP for copies of these policies at 2-3477 or email bsp@mit.edu.



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