Institutional Biosafety Committee

List of Committee Members

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Terms of Reference

The University of Toronto Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC} is charged with ensuring that all activities conducted at the University of Toronto involving biological agents are conducted in a safe manner and in conformity with the national, provincial, local and University standards. Within the terms of the Committee, biological agents include but are not limited to: viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions, toxins, viral vectors, recombinant DNA (rDNA), synthetic DNA (sDNA), genome editing, microorganisms, human/animal tissues, cell lines and cell cultures, and blood and bodily fluids from humans and animals. The committee also oversees research conducted with parasites (e.g. protozoa, helminths), and invasive flora and fauna.

All research carried out under the auspices of the University and/or in University-controlled facilities must comply with the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and Regulations, the Canadian Biosafety Standards, the Canadian Biosafety Handbook, the Health of Animals Act, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Acts and Standards, and federal and provincial Environmental Protection Acts and Standards and Regulations for Invasive Species. These requirements apply regardless of the research funding source.

The IBC must review and approve the biosafety and biosecurity risk assessments of proposed work with biological agents, parasites and invasive species. The IBC further serves as an educational resource to members of the University community.

The University affirms that the primary responsibility for the regulatory compliance, safety and security of staff, students and the public lies with the Principal Investigator using or authorizing the use of such agents. In addition, the University (through the members of the Governing Council and senior administrators) acknowledges a responsibility to provide a policy and procedural framework designed to ensure that work with biohazards is being conducted safely and in conformity with the relevant Acts and Regulations.


The Vice-President, Research and Innovation has delegated to the Institutional Biosafety Committee the following functions, powers and duties:

  1. Developing and promulgating safety standards for the conduct of research and teaching involving biological agents;
  2. Specifying training requirements and promoting_the training of all personnel working with biological agents;
  3. Taking all reasonable steps to ensure that research and teaching activities of members of the University involving infectious biological agents are following procedures that are in compliance with the requirements of the University and any relevant guidelines, standards, or legislation;
  4. Advising the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, who holds the licence for the University under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, on the needs of the University community for biosafety and biosecurity facilities, policies and programmes;
  5. Approving and issuing Biosafety Permit(s), at the appropriate biocontainment level(s), for all uses of biological agents within the University, and withdrawing the Biosafety Permit(s) related to any work that is considered to pose an undue biosafety or biosecurity risk;
  6. Reconsidering decisions concerning the refusal to grant a biosafety permit or the withdrawal of a biosafety permit by the Chair or his/her designate or the stoppage of research work considered to pose an undue biosafety or biosecurity risk by the University Senior Biosafety Officer.
  7. Appointing subcommittee members to assist in carrying out the mandate of the Committee;
  8. Submitting, on behalf of the IBC, by April 30 of each year, an annual report to the Vice-President, Research and Innovation on the activities of the Chair and the Committee, for transmittal to the Senior Management Committee on Health and Safety.


Academic members are appointed to the IBC for terms of not less than two years and not more than four years
(renewable) by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. Academic members are selected on the basis of their experience and expertise in working with biological agents and their geographic area, and at least one member will be appointed from each of the following:

  • UTM
  • UTSC
  • Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Faculty of Medicine (MSB building)
  • Faculty of Medicine (MaRS building)
  • Faculty of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Dentistry

Academic members are also appointed as Chairs of the IBC subcommittees, with authority over specific geographical regions of the University or special areas of concern. Responsibilities of the IBC Subcommittee Chairs include ascertaining that all teaching and research programmes within their jurisdiction and field of expertise meet the required biosafety standards of the University and approving Biosafety Permits. To avoid conflicts of interest, the Chair and Subcommittee Chairs do not approve their own Biosafety Permits or, when applicable, those of their collaborators.

The IBC Chair is appointed by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation for a 4-year term (renewable). The Chair shall have extensive experience in working with biological agents. The duties of the Chair shall include: presiding at meetings, reviewing Committee minutes before distribution and preparing meeting agendas, ensuring that the Committee carries out its functions as set out in all applicable Regulations and these Terms of Reference, ensuring that new members understand their duties, powers and responsibilities as prescribed in the Regulations and in these Terms of Reference, and maintaining accurate records of the activities of the Committee. The Chair shall be an ex officio member of the Senior Management Committee on Health and Safety. The Chair acts on behalf of the IBC for the purposes of conducting routine business between scheduled meetings.

The IBC Vice-Chair is appointed by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation on the recommendation of the IBC, and should be chosen from within the academic members of the IBC. The Vice-Chair performs the duties of the Chair when necessary.

The following University staff members shall sit on the IBC as voting ex-officio members:

  1. the Director, Research Safety and Compliance
  2. the University Senior Biosafety Officer
  3. the University Occupational Health Nurse
  4. the Director, Division of Comparative Medicine
  5. the Director, CL3 Facilities
  6. the University Regulatory Veterinarian
  7. the Director, Human Research Ethics
  8. the Manager, Research Oversight and Compliance

As the University administers NIH funding, the Committee shall also contain at least one member whose work is completely unaffected by considerations of biosafety. This stipulation is met by the appointment of Community Member(s).

In complement to the University IBC, there are also local Biosafety subcommittees (L-BSC). Membership on the L­BSCs includes the one IBC member acting as Chair, a minimum of 2 academic staff, and one Health and Safety Officer from EHS. The primary responsibilities of these subcommittees are to review and approve Biosafety permit applications and amendments. The L-BSCs generally meet monthly. The list of subcommittees is presented in Appendix 1.

Resource People and Experts

The IBC and L-BSC may call upon external or internal experts when necessary, e.g. Occupational Health Physician, experts in the field of viral vector, genome editing, plant pests, plant pathogens. These individuals may be called upon to attend meetings but do not have voting privileges.


The Committee shall meet at least twice per year and Minutes of the meetings shall be taken and kept on file

Reconsideration of Decisions

In the event that new information can be provided that may affect a previous decision of the Committee, a Principal Investigator may request that the Committee reconsider the previous decision. In such circumstances, the Principal Investigator shall notify the Chair in writing, providing all relevant documentation and the detailed basis for the request. The Chair will provide the materials submitted by the Principal Investigator to the IBC members, and he/she shall convene a special meeting of the IBC to review the request. This meeting shall normally take place within 30 days of receipt of materials from the Principal Investigator. The decision of the IBC regarding the reconsideration request is final.


A quorum shall be a majority of the members.

Updates to the Terms of Reference

The Committee may recommend changes to these Terms of Reference at any time. All changes to these Terms of Reference must be approved by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

Appendix 1

IBC subcommittees

  1. UTM
  2. UTSC
  3. Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  4. Medical Science Building/CCBR
  5. MaRS
  6. CCBR/Dentistry/Gage/Pharmacy/KDTthe Director, Research Safety and Compliance

Version – March, 2018