High risk project approvals

Our biosafety policies and procedures are designed to protect the health and safety of people and the environment from Biological Risk Group Agents used in teaching and research.

Biological Risk Group Agents

A Biological Risk Agent is a biological agent which may provoke infection, allergy or toxicity in humans, animals or plants, including:

  • microorganisms (eg bacteria, yeast and viruses)
  • material which contains microorganisms (eg plant, insect and animal cell cultures, tissue samples, blood samples, soil samples, sewage samples etc)
  • toxins derived from biological sources (eg Botulin, Cholera and Tetanus toxin)
  • genetically modified organisms.

Australian Standards 2243.3 classifies microorganisms into Risk Groups 1 to 4, based on:

  • pathogenicity
  • infectivity
  • ease of transmissibility
  • resultant effect
  • host range
  • availability of vaccines or effective treatment.

Uncertain about the classification of your biological – visit the Biosafety Intranet site (VU login required off-campus) or contact the Biosafety Manager.

Project approval

Project approval is not required for Risk Group 1 agents, unless they are Genetically Modified Organisms.

Project approval is not required for Risk Group 2 agents, unless they:

  • are cultured in large volumes (>10 Litres)
  • have special precautions associated with their use as highlighted in AS 2243.3
  • are Genetically Modified Organisms.

Project approval is required when using:

  • Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Genetically Modified Animals and Plants
  • Gene Technologies (including Gene editing e.g. CRISPR/Cas9)
  • Any work with Biological Risk Group Agents that does not meet AS 2243.3
  • Risk Group 3 or 4 agents
  • Procedures that might give rise to Risk Group 3-4 microorganisms
  • Infectious / potentially infectious animals (e.g. bats)
  • Poisonous or venomous animals and plants (e.g. snakes, spiders, mushrooms)
  • Biological agents and toxins on the Defence Strategic Goods List
  • Security Sensitive Biological Material
  • Imported goods that require the use of a Quarantine Approved Premise.

If project approval is required, work cannot commence without prior written approval from the VU Institutional Biosafety Committee.

For a copy of the forms and detail on the application process, please visit the IBC approvals and forms site.