While research is an integral part of academic life, we have an obligation to perform it using our best available safety practices, in close compliance with laws and regulations. Research is highly regulated by state and federal laws which must be obeyed. Please make sure that visitors, students, post docs, and others in your area who perform research are aware of compliance requirements and accept their obligation to perform research using the best available safety practices.
Under Federal Regulations, certain classes of activity require formal review before they may be undertaken by employees or students of the university. This is true whether or not these regulated activities are funded by external money, whether or not they are performed as part of normal instruction in a classroom, lab, or practicum, whether or not they are performed on the university's grounds, and regardless of whether they are part of a formal research program or simply the result of academic curiosity on the part of a Professor or Student.
These classes of work include:
- work involving living human subjects (including survey research or questionnaires);
- work that uses or produces radioactive materials;
- work that involves the use and care of vertebrate animals; and
- work that involves recombinant DNA, or infectious agents, or direct or indirect contact with wild-caught animals that may harbor infectious agents, or any human fluid or tissue. Please note: It has been determined by W&M that oversight of Select Agents falls under the purview of the Environmental Health and Safety Office. See a complete list of Select Agents and Toxins (pdf). Questions in regard to Select Agents should be directed to [[tbelback,Teresa Belback]], Director of EHS.
By law, reviews of work in any of the four categories above must be performed by duly constituted committees appointed by, and reporting to, senior administrators of the university. To enable these reviews, investigators must submit proposals to perform work involving these regulated activities. The proposals must describe the detailed, step-by-step protocols and procedures that will be used in the performance of the work. These protocols must be updated once each year to permit continuation of the work (annual renewals are not automatic). Also, any changes in the authorized proposal must undergo additional review during the period of approval. Additionally, please note that this sort of review is required for survey work that may be done year-after-year in scheduled classes or laboratories.
Login to submit and manage protocols. Read detailed descriptions of the compliance committees, along with guidance for investigators:
- Animal Subjects (IACUC)
- Biosafety & Recombinant DNA (IBC)
- Human Subjects (PHSC)
- Radiation Safety (IRSC)
We want to emphasize that W&M policy mandates that those individuals who will perform, or intend to perform, a particular activity involving these regulated areas may not judge for themselves whether that activity is exempt from formal review. Therefore, whenever you have any doubt about whether your work might require review, the correct approaches are either to submit that work through the Protocol and Compliance Management electronic submission program or to contact a Committee Chair to discuss it.