Acadia Biosafety Committee

The Acadia University Biosafety Committee (ABC) is appointed by the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies to implement and enforce the biosafety program at Acadia. ABC oversees the acquisition, handling, storage and disposal of biohazardous organisms and materials in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, and the Tri-Council funding agencies.

In the Spring of 2019, the ABC will be compiling a manual that outlines in detail the biosafety program at Acadia, and contains forms that will be used in the certification of laboratories on campus that use potential or realised biohazardous materials.

Terms of Reference


The Biosafety Committee is appointed by and accountable to the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, who will inform and involve the Dean of Pure and Applied Science or the Dean of Professional Studies, as appropriate. The Biosafety Committee supports and supplements the role of the Biosafety Officer.

The Biosafety Officer has the authority to implement and enforce the biosafety program encompassing the acquisition, handling, storage, and disposal of biohazardous materials in accordance with regulatory requirements of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act, and the Tri-Council funding agencies.

All faculty, staff, and students are expected to take individual responsibility for safe work practices and procedures when handling biohazards so as to safeguard their own individual health and well-being, as well as that of their colleagues.

Committee Membership

The Committee shall consist of a minimum of 5 members, including:

  • Biosafety Officer
  • Occupational Health and Safety Officer who is also the Biosafety Coordinator
  • At least three persons engaged in work involving the use of biological agents

A Safety and Security representative may be included on an ad-hoc basis, for committee work involving biosecurity.

Functions of the Biosafety Committee

1.   Establish and annually review a Biosafety Manual, including policies and procedures for the safe use of biohazardous materials.

2.   Assist the Biosafety Officer, where necessary, with the preparation and submission of reports to regulatory agencies.

3.   Establish and review worker-training programs on an annual basis.

4.   Advise the Biosafety Officer, if necessary, on the processing of internal permit applications and approval of space and facilities to be used for projects involving biohazardous materials.

5.   Receive reports of any incidents or accidents involving biohazardous materials, arrange for investigations where warranted, and assist the Biosafety Officer with the required reporting to appropriate bodies.

6.   Advise senior management of the need for additional resources to improve the Biosafety Program.

7.   Maintain written records of meetings, actions, incidents, and unusual occurrences along with recommendations.

Reporting Structure

The Biosafety Committee is accountable to the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. Acadia University’s Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Officer shall advise the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) and the VP Finance and Administration of the Biosafety Committee’s proceedings. The JOHSC and the OH&S Officer may refer matters to the Biosafety Committee for consideration or action.

Membership Term

Committee members will normally be appointed for a three-year term. Members may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms.


The Chairperson shall normally be the Biosafety Officer.


The Biosafety Committee shall meet three times yearly, typically in August, December, and April. Special meetings, however, may be called at any time. The schedule for the year will be established in August, if feasible.


Any member may place items on the agenda for discussion. Items for inclusion on the agenda should be received by the Biosafety Officer at least one week prior to the scheduled meeting to allow time for distribution of relevant documents to committee members.

Conduct of Meeting

Meetings will be conducted by the Chairperson, normally the Biosafety Officer. In the absence of the Chairperson, voting members in attendance will select a member as acting Chairperson.


At all meetings, a quorum will be one half of the membership.


The Committee will normally seek to operate by consensus without the need of formal votes. When a member requests a formal vote, a motion will be carried when supported by a simple majority of members present at the meeting.

Current Membership of ABC

Biosafety Officer:

Dr Todd Smith, Department of Biology (585-1400,


Hélène d’Entremont, Department of Biology (585-1729,
Alanna Maynard, Department of Biology (585-1189,
Janna Wentzell, School of Recreation Management and Kinesiology (585-1797,

Survey of Potential Biohazards

As the first step in implementing the biosafety program at Acadia, the ABC requires information on research projects or teaching laboratories that involve actual or potential biohazardous organisms or materials.  To this end, the ABC has developed a survey designed to identify all researchers or teachers on campus who work with organisms or materials of importance to biosafety.

Note that the ABC is interested not only in identified biohazards, but also requires basic information from all faculty and staff who work with living organisms, including plants, animals, fungi or microbes, as well as cell, tissue or organ cultures, cell lines, DNA or RNA, and recombinant DNA or RNA.  The vast majority of faculty and staff who work with these organisms or materials are at very low risk for biohazards, but it is necessary to identify all potential sources of biohazards to implement the biosafety program.

The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete, although two surveys will be required for each faculty and staff member using the organisms or materials listed above in research and in teaching.  The survey is straightforward, and requests basic information on the types of organisms or materials used in research projects and teaching laboratories on campus, as well as a very brief description of each project or teaching laboratory involving organisms or biological materials.

Thank you for your time and effort in filling out the survey(s).

Enter Survey


To contact the Acadia Biosafety Committee via the Biosafety Officer:

Dr Todd Smith
Biosafety Officer

Horton Hall, Room 214
18 University Avenue
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6
Tel: 902-585-1400
Fax: 902-585-1059