Institutional Biosafety & Biosecurity Committee (IBBC)
Terms of Reference
The University of Toronto Institutional Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee (IBBC) is charged with ensuring that all activities conducted at the University of Toronto involving biological agents are conducted in a safe and secure 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 or synthetic nucleic acids, 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. The IBBC further serves as an educational resource to members of the University community.
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 IBBC delegates to the Local Biosafety Committees (LBCs) the review and approval of all biosafety Permit applications and amendments. The LBCs are subcommittees of the IBBC and meet on a regular basis. The list of LBCs is presented in Appendix 1.
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 Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance has delegated to the Institutional Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee the following functions, powers and duties:
- Developing and promulgating safety and security standards for the conduct of research and teaching involving biological agents;
- Specifying training requirements and promoting the training of all personnel working with biological agents, parasites, and invasive flora and fauna;
- Taking all reasonable steps to ensure that research and teaching activities of members of the University involving biological agents, parasites, and invasive flora and fauna are following procedures that are in compliance with the requirements of the University and any relevant guidelines, standards, or legislation;
- Advising the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance, 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;
- Reviewing reconsiderations of LBC decisions regarding the refusal to grant a biosafety permit or the stoppage of research work considered to pose an undue biosafety or biosecurity risk by the University Senior Biosafety Officer;
- Appointing subcommittee members (other than the LBC chairs, who are appointed by the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance) to assist in carrying out the mandate of the Committee;
- Submitting, on behalf of the IBBC, by April 30 of each year, an annual report to the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance 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 IBBC for terms of not less than two years and not more than four years (renewable) by Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance. Fourteen (14) academic members from both research and teaching streams are selected on the basis of their experience and expertise in working with biological agents, parasites, or invasive flora or fauna and their physical location to ensure a good representation of members from across faculties and campuses.
Academic members may also be appointed as Chairs of the LBCs, with authority over specific geographical regions of the University or special areas of concern. To avoid conflicts of interest, the Chair and LBC Chairs do not approve their own Biosafety Permits or, when applicable, those of their collaborators.
The IBBC Chair is appointed by the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance 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 IBBC for the purposes of conducting routine business between scheduled meetings.
The IBBC Vice-Chair is appointed by the Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance on the recommendation of the IBBC, and should be chosen from within the academic members of the IBBC. The Vice-Chair performs the duties of the Chair when necessary.
The following University staff members shall sit on the IBBC as voting ex-officio members:
- the Director, Research Safety and Compliance
- the University Senior Biosafety Officer
- the University Occupational Health Nurse
- the Director, Division of Comparative Medicine
- the Director, CL3 Facilities
- the University Veterinarian and Director, Animal Ethics and Compliance
- the Director, Human Research Ethics
- the Manager, Research Oversight and Compliance
- the University Chief Information Security Officer
- the Director of Campus Police
As the University administers NIH funding, the Committee shall 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).
Resource People and Experts
The IBBC may call upon external or internal experts when necessary, e.g. Occupational Health Physician, cybersecurity and security experts, 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
Where an LBC matter has not been resolved through reconsideration by the LBC of its decision, a Principal Investigator may request that the IBBC review the decision of the LBC. In such circumstances, the Principal Investigator shall notify the Director, Research Safety and Compliance in writing, within one month of the LBC’s notice of the outcome of its review, providing all relevant documentation and a detailed basis for the request. The Director, Research Safety and Compliance shall provide the relevant LBC Chair with an opportunity to respond (within 3 weeks) to the request for reconsideration.
Once the LBC Chair has provided a response, the IBBC Chair shall convene a special meeting of the IBBC to review the Principal Investigator’s request. This meeting shall normally take place within 30 days of receipt of materials from the Principal Investigator. At least one week prior to the meeting the Director, Research Safety and Compliance will provide both the request and the relevant LBC Chair’s response to the IBBC members and the Principal Investigator.
IBBC members who are members of the LBC that made the decision under review shall be recused from deliberation or voting concerning the reconsideration request, and quorum for the IBBC’s special meeting to review the decision shall be adjusted accordingly. The IBBC Chair may request the relevant LBC Chair and the Principal Investigator to address the Committee, and may consult ad hoc with other individuals to provide specific expertise relevant to the matter.
The IBBC may substitute its own decision for the LBC’s decision, modify the LBC’s decision, or send the matter back to the LBC for further review having regard to any concerns noted by the IBBC. The IBBC Chair shall notify the relevant LBC Chair and the Principal Investigator in writing of the IBBC’s decision. The decision of the IBBC 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 Associate Vice-President, Research Oversight and Compliance.
- Faculty of Arts and Sciences
- Medical Science Building
Version – May 19, 2021