Safe project design

We have been working with antibiotic resistant bacteria with selective markers for ampicillin and chloramphenicol resistance respectively.  In order to minimize the risks associated with handling antibiotic resistant organisms we followed the guidelines of WHO Laboratory biosafety manual as well as the rules set by the the Department of Chemistry at Lund University related to safe laboratory practices [1] [2].

We did not test our constructs outside the laboratory. Every experiment was conducted according to set safety protocols to minimize the possibility of transferring the bacteria outside the lab, e.g. keeping the white coat inside the laboratory, sanitize every utilized laboratory space with antimicrobial agents, and so on. As we did not intend to use our devices outside the controlled laboratory environment, we did not incorporate a kill-switch unit into our design.

Safe lab work

While most “dos and don’ts” could be reduced to common sense, the nature of some practices may be more ambiguous. To add to the potential confusion, what was once considered acceptable laboratory practice might change with time and new information. Mouth pipetting is surely an artifact of the olden days, but the case of drinking your morning coffee in the laboratory if it is not classified as bio-hazardous might not be as evident. Clearly, one could run into a multitude of crossroads if one does not establish a set of stringent rules and boundaries to adhere to in the laboratory setting. Not only could the research be affected by poorly defined procedures but it would put the safety of everyone working in the laboratory at risk.

Good Laboratory Practice

There are many aspects that should be taken into account to ultimately prevent any mishaps. One set of principles that has been developed to tackle this is that of Good Laboratory practice (GLP). GLP is a quality control system developed by the OECD to ensure a safe working environment in laboratories performing chemical non-clinical tests [3]. It consists of information on topics such as safety education,  project construction, result presentation and proper information storage. While the quality system covered many topics that were not directly related to the design and construction of our project, we reviewed and evaluated the sections that could be applied.

Before entering the laboratory

Prior to entering the laboratory to start the wet-lab work, we constructed an overarching plan with a full set of risk assessments for each procedure and chemical that would be used during the project. The risk assessments were all signed off on by faculty members at the Division of Pure and Applied Biochemistry at Lund University. Upon entering the laboratory, we were given a thorough introduction to the workstation, how to operate available tools, proper storage of chemicals and a rundown of safety precautions and available safety equipment. The staff allowed us to subsequently discuss the various safety protocols and answered related questions (perhaps not so shockingly, they would neither allow us to drink coffee at the workstation nor practice mouth pipetting).

In the laboratory

For the sake of both personal safety and acquiring desired results, carefully crafted protocols were always followed to minimize the risk of mishaps during wet-lab work. Each protocol mapped the experimental from the beginning to end in detail in a step-by-step fashion. Proper safety equipment was worn at all times and all chemicals that were used were assessed for potential hazardous effect.

Safe shipment

We did not encounter any specific security problems while shipping.


  1. [1] World Health Organization, (2004), ‘Laboratory biosafety manual. – 3rd ed.’, [online] [accessed 10 oct. 2017]
  2. [2] Lund University, (2012) ‘Lab safety instructions and procedures’, [online] [accessed 12 oct. 2017]
  3. [3] OECD Environmental Health and Safety Publications, (1997), ‘Series on Principles of Good Laboratory Practice and Compliance Monitoring - OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice’, [online] [accessed 10 oct. 2017]