Biological Safety Training

Training needs will vary based upon what a person works with in the lab. Use the biosafety training guide to determine what training requirements apply and how to satisfy those requirements. Additionally, lab-specific biosafety training is needed for all new lab members. At this time, a biosafety training checklist/record is available and strongly recommended for all short term lab members (i.e., rotating graduate students, research for credit students, interns, visiting scientists, etc.). A similar checklist specifically for staff and longer term appointment positions is forthcoming, but the checklist posted here may be modified and used for those personnel as well.

If you have specific questions regarding biosafety training needs, please send an email to biosafety@vumc.org and use “training inquiry” in the subject line. A VEHS Biosafety Team member will respond within 3 business days.


Biosafety 101: Standard Microbiological Practices

Target Audience:   All research personnel who will be working with biological materials and/or recombinant DNA molecules.  It is also an essential informational primer for all Principal Investigators whose research involves the use of biological materials.

Class Description:  Basic description of biological hazards and regulated biological materials; overview of biosafety levels, and standard microbiological practices including:

  • biohazardous waste segregation, handling and disposal,
  • hygiene practices to enhance lab safety and minimize potential cross-contamination,
  • spill and exposure prevention practices.

Class Length:  45 minutes

Class Schedule/Location:  Available online.  To enroll, log into the University or Medical Center Learning Exchange. When you have completed the lesson, keep a copy of your training certificate or confirmation email for your own records.  Then, forward a copy to your PI or supervisor for their records.

Principles & Practices of Biosafety
course schedule

NOTE: For courses held after February 13th, 2017, you must submit a copy of your Learning Exchange transcript or certificate of completion reflecting your completion of Biosafety 101: Standard Microbiological Practices along with your desired class date to biosafety@vumc.org in order to get registered for this course. (Please put “Biosafety training request” in the email subject line.) You will receive a confirmation from the RATE registration regarding your enrollment or will be contacted by the instructor. 

Target Audience:  Investigators and research staff members who handle biological materials that require BSL-2 containment. Such materials include:

  • Agents infectious to humans, animals or plants
  • Toxins of a biological origin
  • Human or non-human primate derived materials including blood, body fluids, unfixed tissues and cells (including immortalized cell lines).

Class Description:  This course builds on the information covered in the Biosafety 101: Standard Microbiological Practices course. This course includes and emphasizes the following topics:

  • routes of exposure and lab-acquired infections
  • personal protective equipment selection and use
  • biological safety cabinet best practices
  • sharps selection, handling and disposal considerations
  • special equipment hazards
  • exposure and spill response actions

Class Length:  2 hours (plus an additional 30 minutes if also completing Working Safely with Human Derived Materials in the Lab in conjunction with this session)

Class Schedule/Location:  See Course Schedule.

Bloodborne Pathogens

Required by:  Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, OSHA 1910.1030

Frequency:  Initial with annual retraining

Target Audience:  Any staff/faculty exposed to human blood, body fluids, tissues or cells, or exposure to one of these viruses: HIV, HBV or HCV.

Class Description:  Training covers the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, transmission for bloodborne pathogens, biohazard labeling requirements, personal protective equipment, available VUMC engineering controls and appropriate disposal of linens and waste.

Class Schedule/Location:  

  • VUMC faculty & staff with exposure to human bloodborne pathogens in the hospitals or clinics receive this training online in VUMC Learning Exchange.   School of Medicine (SOM) faculty receive this training online through the SOM Faculty Orientation and Training Office's learning management system. 
  • VU and VUMC personnel who work with human materials in a laboratory setting, should complete the online lesson by searching for "Working Safely with Human-Derived Materials in the Lab" in the University or Medical Center Learning Exchange.
  • VU faculty and staff who need Bloodborne Pathogens training and are not working in a laboratory setting, should contact Robin Trundy at 2-0927.

Working Safely with Human-Derived Materials in the Lab

Required by:  Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, OSHA 1910.1030

Frequency:  Initial with annual retraining

NOTE:  New personnel should complete this training via an instructor led course if at all possible.

Target Audience:  Any staff/faculty exposed to human blood, body fluids, tissues or cells, or exposure to one of these viruses: HIV, HBV or HCV in a laboratory setting.

Class Length:  Self-paced if completed online; 30 minutes if completed as part of an instructor-led training session.

Class Schedule/Location:   Online in University or Medical Center Learning Exchange.  This training is also provided in an instructor-led session in conjunction with the Principles & Practices of Biosafety training.

  • VU and VUMC staff receive this training online in the Learning Exchange. It is available as a self-assigned course.  It is also assigned by administrators to certain groups, such as those working in medical research laboratories. 
  • VUMC School of Medicine faculty receive this training based on responses to the VUMC SOM Faculty Compliance Training Profile.

Annual Biosafety Refresher
​course schedule

Target Audience:  Investigators and research staff members who have previously completed either Biosafety 101: Standard Microbiological Practices or Principles & Practices of Biosafety. Refresher training is offered by VEHS Biosafety in the Fall only. All biomaterials researchers are encouraged to complete refresher training in the Fall regardless of their last training completion in order to stay “on cycle” with meeting annual training requirements.

Class Description:  This session will provide a review of biocontainment and infectious agent exposure control principles, using findings from recent lab visits to demonstrate concepts. Topics will change from year to year.

Class Length:  75 minutes

Class Schedule/Location: Classes for 2018 will be offered in November.  Watch for dates in RATE

Animal Biosafety Principles for Researchers

Target Audience: 

Investigators and research staff members who will be carrying out animal studies that require animal biosafety level 2 (ABSL-2) containment. (These studies typically involve the administration of an agent infectious to humans in an animal model.)

Class Description:  This training course provides an overview of animal biosafety levels and general containment practices applicable to the lab animal research setting. The training focus is adhering to ABSL-2 principles while conducting common procedures including challenge, sample collection, cage change and terminal procedures. This class is only open to personnel who have been added to an ABSL-2 IACUC protocol or who are in the process of being added to such a protocol.

Class Length:  1.5 hours

Class Schedule/Location: Training requests must be submitted by the PI or their research contact to Robin Trundy by email or phone (322-0927).  Requests should include the trainee’s name and the applicable animal protocol number, and date they were added to the protocol.

Shipping Biological Substances - USDOT and IATA 
course schedule

ATTENTION!  Due to a combination of increased demand and other factors, VEHS will be discontinuing live biological materials shipping training and moving to an online option in 2019. The class on December 13th will be the last live session offered.  Registration is required. See instructions below.

To support the VUMC clinical research community, VEHS is developing an online training module that will be a limited certification to ship human patient samples as part of clinical research activities that specify shipment of these samples as UN3373 Category B Biological Substances. This module will be available for self-assignment in the VUMC Learning Exchange on or shortly after February 15, 2019. For those in need of this training before that date, you will need to acquire training through your study sponsor or from an outside vendor (such as Saf-T-Pak).

Basic researchers who need to ship biological materials but are not currently certified to ship these in accordance with hazardous materials/dangerous goods regulations should contact Richard DiTullio at richard.ditullio@vumc.org for assistance.

Required by:  U.S. Department of Transportation 49 CFR 172.700 - 172.704, and 
 International Air Transport Association Dangerous Goods Regulations

Frequency:  Initial with refresher at least every two years; Refresher training is required more frequently when there are significant regulatory changes.

Target Audience:  This training is for Vanderbilt employees whose job requires them to:

  • Package or ship any biological materials on Dry Ice (or prepare the paperwork for such packages).
  • Package or ship human or animal clinical specimens or tissues.
  • Package or ship any human or animal clinical specimens as part of a study where the sponsor has designated these materials as Category B biological substances (or prepare paperwork for such packages).
  • Package or ship any materials that may contain an agent infectious to humans or animals (i.e., microbiological cultures).

Class Description:  Topics include Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods Awareness; identification and preparation of biological substances and Dry Ice for shipment; safety, incident response and security considerations for shipments of biological substances; and other Issues; to receive certification, participants must successfully demonstrate understanding of these elements through testing .

NOTE:   A separate refresher course is not being offered at this time. If you have previously completed this training, you should plan to complete the training again within 24 months of your previous training date.

Class Length:  2.5 hours plus test completion time.

Class Schedule/Location:   See Course Schedule.

Dry Ice Shipping Training - USDOT and IATA

Required by: U.S. Department of Transportation 49 CFR 172.700 - 172.704, and International Air Transport Association Dangerous Goods Regulations

Frequency: Initial with refresher at least every two years; Refresher training is required more frequently when there are significant regulatory changes.

Target Audience: This training is for Vanderbilt employees whose job requires them to package or ship temperature-sensitive, non-hazardous materials on Dry Ice (or prepare the paperwork for such packages).

Class Description: Topics include the general requirements of the Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods regulations, the standard triple packaging system, and the regulations specific to dry ice; To receive certification, participants must successfully demonstrate understanding of these elements through testing.

Length: 30 minutes plus test completion time.

Class Schedule/Location:  Online.  To enroll in this course, log into the University or Medical Center Learning Exchange. Once you have completed this course, send a copy of the Learning Exchange certificate to Richard DiTullio (richard.ditullio@vumc.org).  A certificate with required USDOT information will be sent to you in return.

Regulated Medical Waste Shipping Training for Lab Researchers - USDOT Training

Required by: U.S. Department of Transportation 49 CFR 172.700 - 172.704

Frequency: Initial with refresher at least every three years; Refresher training is required more frequently when there are significant regulatory changes.

Target Audience: This training is for Vanderbilt University employees whose lab-related job tasks require them to prepare Regulated Medical Waste shipments or sign for Regulated Medical Waste pick-ups from VU labs serviced by Stericycle or BioWaste, LLC.

Class Description: Topics include the general requirements of the Hazardous Materials regulations, and the regulations specific to regulated medical waste; To receive certification, participants must successfully demonstrate understanding of these elements through testing.

Length: 30 minutes plus test completion time.

Prerequisite Course: Biosafety 101: Standard Microbiological Practices

Class Schedule/Location: Online. To enroll in this course, log into the University Learning Exchange. Once you have completed this course, send a copy of the Learning Exchange certificate to biosafety@vumc.org. A certificate with required USDOT information will be sent to you in return.

Attention VUMC personnel: If you are classified as Medical Center personnel and cannot access the VU Learning Exchange, you can take the Regulated Medical Waste Shipping Training for Lab Researchers in VU Buildings in the Medical Center Learning Exchange. However, you cannot self-assign the module.  (Do not take the clinical regulated medical waste training in the VUMC Learning Exchange which is available for self-assignment, as it is NOT the correct course.) Please send a request to biosafety@vumc.org and VEHS Biosafety will assign you the course. Include the title of the course, the name of your PI and your lab location in the request.