Safety and Security Hub

iGEM expects all teams to demonstrate to iGEM HQ, the wider community, and to anyone interested how you are working safely and securely. Teams do this by thinking carefully about and managing any risks to yourselves, your colleagues, community, or the environment. You need to continue to think about risks throughout your project and revisit these issue as your plans change.

Video: Introduction to iGEM Safety and Security

The Safety & Security Program

To help your team work safely and securely, we have clear rules and policies you must follow. We've created tools to help you understand what we're asking you to do and why. Our forms make it easy to provide the information we need to review your project, whenever you want to use something not on our White List, and before the Jamboree. We also have a dedicated Safety and Security Committee who can answer your questions.

Safety & Security Grant

$5000 each for up to 5 iGEM teams

This year, we are offering grants to accelerate technical progress in biosafety and biosecurity.

Apply by June 12, 2021!

Coronavirus Update

iGEM teams have a long tradition of addressing local and global challenges. iGEM recognizes that COVID-19 is an ongoing challenge, both global and local, for many in our community. We are keen to help address this disease but do not want to add risk to our teams, their communities, or the world more broadly.

  • Any work using the live SARS-CoV-2 virus (the causative agent of COVID-19) must follow WHO guidance, even if that guidance is stricter than local safety rules, in addition to all local and institutional rules.

  • Teams should not work with high concentrations of live SARS-CoV-2 virus or large volumes of infectious material (including viral propagation). Following WHO guidance, this work requires heighted control (BSL3) and therefore is prohibited within iGEM.

  • Diagnostic, therapeutic or vaccine projects connected to COVID-19, as well as the planned use of any fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are NOT covered by iGEM's White List and you MUST submit a Check-In Form to get permission for this work in advance.

  • Teams must think carefully about in-person interactions, whether between team members or with others in the community. To avoid contributing to the spread of COVID-19, consider your local conditions and always follow local and national public health guidelines.

Failure to follow these directives can lead to your team's immediate disqualification from the competition and referral to the Responsible Conduct Committee.

The Safety and Security Committee and Human Practices Committee, along with iGEM Headquarters, have created a page with additional guidelines on your work in the context of COVID-19:

Safety and Security

We expect everyone involved with iGEM to act responsibly throughout the competition. Considering safety and security is an important component of responsible research and innovation.

Working safely and securely

Find out more about safety and security in project design, laboratory work, and transfer.

Safety and Security Rules

Review the safety and security rules all teams must follow.

Safety and Security Policies

Learn about iGEM's policies on human experimentation, animal use, anti-microbial resistance, gene drives, and more.

Keep it in the lab

Find out more about keeping modified organisms in the lab and how you might take their products outside.

What I have to do

Everyone has a role to play. Find out more what is expected from team members, instructors and our Committee.

Safety and Security Committee

Find out more about the experts from around the world that helps keep iGEM safe and secure.


Guidance and support to help you work safely and securely inside and outside the lab. These resources can help you understand our policies and rules.

Risk Groups

iGEM's rules and policies talk about risk groups and biosafety levels. These are used to help understand what risks might be involved in a project and how they might be managed.

White List

The White List provides details of organisms, parts, and activities teams can use in iGEM, along with those which require prior approval.

Risk assessment tool

iGEM is working with experts from around the world on a tool to help identify and manage any risks associated with a project. This tool can help in complete the safety and security form.

Working with samples from outside the lab

Some teams work with samples from the environment, food industry or non-traditional suppliers. iGEM has guides and good practices to help.

Exemplary Projects

Over the years, we have seen many iGEM teams take safety and security seriously in their work. Explore how teams have won awards and prizes for safety and security.

Ask your Instructors!

Your first resource is always your instructors, advisors, and professors. They have experience working in your lab and know your local rules. If you are having issues email us at safety AT igem DOT org. We love hearing from teams!


These forms are how teams demonstrate they are doing their project safely and securely. Teams must fill out these forms as completely as possible - explaining any risks associated with the project and what steps have been taken to manage them.

  • We encourage STUDENTS, instead of instructors, to complete these forms.
  • An Instructor or PI will need to sign and submit (a) the Safety and Security Form by the second deadline before the Giant Jamboree, and (b) any animal use form.
  • While you type, the forms will automatically save your answers.
Safety Forms note

Complying with the safety and security requirements is a condition of competing at iGEM - that includes providing all the information in this form by the relevant deadlines. Failure to do so can lead to immediate disqualification from the competition and referral to the Responsible Conduct Committee.

Safety Form

All teams are required to fill the Safety Form.

Due Date: June 25, 23:59 EDT
An initial version of this form, with as much information as possible, is to be provided by the team.

Due Date: October 1, 23:59 EDT
A final version of this form must be signed off by the PI.

Check-In Form

There are no deadlines for this form. It can be submitted at any time.

Any team that plans to acquire or use any organism/part that is NOT on the White List must submit a Check-In form first. Once the iGEM Safety Committee has approved your Check-In by email, you may begin your work.

Animal Use Check-In Form

There are no deadlines for this form. It can be submitted at any time.

If your team is using any vertebrates (e.g. rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters), or higher order invertebrates (e.g. cuttlefish, octopus, squid, lobster) you will need to complete a Check-In form to tell us about any risks associated with your work and how you will be managing them.