Original Repository: Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. Daniel Nathans Collection
Reproduced with permission of Joanne Nathans.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Guidelines as Topic
Restriction Enzymes and the "New Genetics," 1970-1980
Letter from Paul Berg to Daniel Nathans (June 11, 1973)
July 23, 1973
In response to your letter about guidelines for investigators working with infectious agents and institutional monitoring
committees, I would hope the American Cancer Society could refer to a published set of guidelines from NIH rather than come
up with its own. Such a document is available and is now being revised.
My general view is that ACS should require monitoring by the institution sponsoring research involving agents potentially
hazardous to people, first in regard to procedures for handling the agents, and second, for testing the adequacy of these
procedures. I think it is possible to write down certain procedural principles. For example: 1) potentially hazardous agents
should be in covered containers at all times except when handled in appropriate hoods which can be decontaminated; 2) all
contaminated materials should be autoclaved or otherwise sterilized; 3) mouth pipetting should be avoided; 4) decontamination
procedures should be available in case of accidents; 5) the formation of aerosols should be minimized; 6) only approved personnel
should use rooms where agents are grown or processed. In regard to testing the adequacy of procedures, in many instances periodic
measurement of antibody levels of laboratory personnel would be most suitable.
Obviously these principles are not complete and as I indicated earlier, I would hope we can refer to an NIH document which
would be more complete. However, I think it important to stress that generally we do not know that an agent used in research
is hazardous to people and that the guidelines are intended to reduce the spread of such agents without requiring the very
elaborate precautions needed for proven human pathogens.