Biological Project Registration

Biological Project Registration

The Committee on Microbiological Safety (COMS) is the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) for Harvard University.

COMS requires researchers to register all in vivo and in vitro research involving biological materials, including:

  • Recombinant DNA
  • Wild-type and genetically modified microorganisms
  • Bacterial and viral pathogens
  • Prions
  • Regulated biological toxins
  • Human and non-human primate tissues
  • Cells
  • Cell lines
  • Human gene transfer and xeno-transplantation
  • The creation of transgenic animals and plants

COMS approval is required before Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval will be granted for animal research involving the above mentioned agents. In addition to COMS registration, the use of human embryonic stem cells requires additional approval by the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee (ESCRO). If your research includes human studies, you will also need to contact your school's Institutional Review Board (IRB).

The registration forms must be submitted to your Biosafety Officer (BSO) who will conduct a risk assessment for the proposed work and submits the form with their containment level recommendations to COMS.

Please contact to register a new COMS, amend an existing registration, or if you have any questions about COMS requirements and approval timelines.

Department Contact


Did You Know?

There are safer options to using standard hypodermic needles and scalpels in research. Safer needle devices include retractable and re-sheathing needles, re-sheathing scalpels, needles that can be blunted after use, and many more. Consider if a safer sharp will work for your experiment or if a blunt needle can be substituted. For more information on safer sharps, visit Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Healthcare Wide Hazards Needlestick/Sharps Injuries.