Programs & Guidelines
Institutional Biosafety Committee
MSU Institutional Biosafety Committee acts as the institutional review
body for all research activities involving the use of recombinant or
synthetic nucleic acid molecules as required and outlined in the
National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Involving
Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines). The
primary charge of the IBC was to review the research proposals using the
NIH Guidelines as a minimum standard. The purpose of the NIH Guidelines
and the IBC review process was to provide researchers with guidance for
conducting these studies in a manner that minimized exposure risk for
research personnel and the environment at large. As a part of this
review, the committee must determine if the Principal Investigator has
set the appropriate biosafety level (BSL), evaluate the category of
review, methods to be used in the research projects, training records
for personnel involved, and other aspects of the project.
the years, the role of IBCs in the university setting has expanded to
include areas such as research use of human and animal cells, infectious
agents, select agents, and toxins. The role continues to increase as
research evolves to include dual use, stem cells, and more complicated
MSU Institutional Biosafety Committee membership and mission has been
revised to meet the changing needs of the MSU research community. In
addition to recombinant DNA reviews, the committee may provide guidance
and assistance on matters such as animal and plant research containment
facilities, use of infectious agents, accreditation issues, and
IBC meets on a monthly basis to discuss and review current projects.
These meetings are open to the public. If you would like to attend a
meeting, contact Jamie
Willard-Smith, Ph.D. or John Gerlach for more information and a schedule.
Institutional Biosafety Committee Roster
Supervisory Research Geneticist, Avian Disease & Oncology Laboratory
Dr. Cheng is the lead scientist of a research program
focused on identifying the genetic and immunological basis for
resistance to Marek's disease in chickens. His lab develops a
number of genomic reagents as well as recombinant DNA viruses in order
to better understand the virus-host interaction.
Associate Professor, Translation Science & Molecular Medicine
Dr. Counts was recruited to Michigan State University as an Associate Professor of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine (primary) and Family Medicine (secondary) at the Grand Rapids campus. The goal of Dr. Counts’ research is to understand the molecular pathogenic mechanisms of selective neuronal vulnerability in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Associate Professor, Crop & Soil Science
Dr. Douches' areas of specialization are potato genetics
and developing potato varieties specific to Michigan needs. He also
studies potato genetics and breeding for pest resistance.
Frances Pouch Downes
Professor, Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program
Dr. Downes's general research interests are development of
diagnostic tools for emerging infectious diseases and newborn screening;
and development of the evidence basis for practices used in public
health and clinical laboratory practice.
John Gerlach, IBC Chairperson
Associate Professor, Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics
Research interests include studies in the following areas:
the major histocompatibility complexes of man and domestic animal
species, the genetic basis of disease resistance and/or susceptibility,
and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and the use of the dog as an
Sarah Godbehere Roosa, Lab Representative Member
Research Technologist II, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Research Technician in the Amalfitano lab where they study
the host-vector innate and adaptive immune responses to adenovirus.
They use adenovirus as a gene transfer vector in the development of
vaccines for malaria and HIV as well as understanding the pathogenesis
of ankylosing spondylitis.
Adjunct Curator, MSU Entomology Department
Professor Emeritus Gorton has BS and MS degrees in
entomology from Michigan State University. His graduate research focused
on the epidemiology of mosquito-borne La Crosse Encephalitis virus. He
taught molecular biology, microbiology, cell biology and entomology at
Lansing Community College for 37 years. He is now retired from teaching
and serves as the Adjunct Curator of spiders for the A. J. Cook
Arthropod Research Center, Department of Entomology, MSU.
Dr. Grumet studies plant-virus interactions in cucurbits
(cucumbers and melons). She is trying to develop plants that are
resistant to certain diseases as well as understand the genetic
mechanisms that control flower and fruit production.
Associate Professor, Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Dr. András Komáromy is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist and associate professor at the
Michigan State University (MSU). As a clinician-scientist he has a special interest in the study of
molecular and cellular disease mechanisms involved in blinding retinal and optic nerve diseases. He
is involved in the pre-clinical work for a number of viral-mediated ocular gene therapies. Dr.
Komáromy received his veterinary degree (1993) and doctorate (1996) at the University of Zurich.
Following his internship in medicine and surgery at MSU (1995/96), he performed his graduate work
(PhD 2002) and residency (2000-03) at the University of Florida. He was a post-doctoral fellow
(2003-04) and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at MSU
L. Karl Olson
Dr. Olson's work is in the area of molecular endocrinology.
Specifically his work centers around the chemical-induced alterations
of the regulation of pancreatic islet B cell physiology and signal
transduction. Educational Background: University of Minnesota, Ph.D.,
Pharmacology, 1991. Dr. Olson holds memberships in the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Diabetes
Association, the Endocrine Society, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Professor, Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Myers-Dunlap Endowed Chair in Canine Health
Research Interests include: Hereditary Eye Disease, Retinal Dystrophies, Therapies for Retinal Dystrophies
Associate Professor, Department of Entomology
Dr. Thiem’s research focuses on viral pathogens of insects. She is interested in understanding the molecular basis of viral pathogenesis. The objective of these studies is to develop new biorational methods for controlling insect pests. These issues are addressed using a baculovirus model system. Specific goals include determining the factors that control the expression of baculovirus genes, identifying and characterizing the genes that are responsible for limiting or extending baculovirus tissue and host range, and characterizing the host response to baculovirus infection.
Patrick Venta, IBC Co-Chairperson
Associate Professor, Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Dr. Venta is trained in human molecular genetics (Ph.D.,
Human Genetics, University of Michigan, 1983). He has experience in the
isolation of mammalian genomic and cDNA recombinant DNA clones since
1980. He also has experience in bacterial and mammalian recombinant DNA
expression systems for normal and mutant mammalian genes.
Professor of Plant Biology
Dr. Walton works on a variety of questions involving plant/pathogen interactions, the biosynthesis of natural products, and enzymes for bioenergy applications. The common theme is the Kingdom Mycota, also known as the Fungi.
Immunogenetics Laboratory Coordinator, Animal Science
Dr. Weber is a member of a research team investigating the
effects of stress on the health and well being of dairy cattle. Her
current research interest focuses on understanding alterations of gene
expression profiles during neutrophil development and maturation.
Jamie Sue Willard
Biological Safety Officer
Select Agent Responsible Official
Dr. Willard, in conjunction with other EHS Bioteam
members, specializes in biosafety and biosecurity for the MSU campus at
large. In terms of recombinant DNA research, she and her team review
all registrations to determine adequacy of containment and other
biosafety/biosecurity related concerns including training, inspections
and exposure response.
Medical Entomologist, Michigan Department of Community Health
Mr. Foster serves as Medical Entomologist for the Michigan
Department of Community Health. He conducts zoonotic and vector-borne
disease investigation, prevention, and control as well as community and
provider outreach, education and training. Focus areas include public
health pests (lice, scabies, bed bugs), and emerging vector-borne
diseases (Lyme disease, West Nile) in Michigan.
Judith Kloss Smith
Laboratory Scientist Specialist, Michigan Department of Community Health
Ms. Smith is the Laboratory Health and Safety Officer for the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Laboratories. Her responsibilities include leading the laboratories Health and Safety program in addition to serving as the Responsible Official for the Tier 1 Select Agent and Toxin Program. In this capacity she has oversight for the laboratories biosafety, biosecurity, chemical and radiological safety.
Kimberly Signs, DVM
Epidemiologist, Michigan Department of Community Health
Dr. Signs conducts public health surveillance for zoonotic
and vector-borne diseases with the Michigan Department of Community
Health. These diseases include West Nile virus, rabies, and Lyme
disease. Her current duties include collaborating with other
state and federal agencies on zoonotic and vector-borne topics,
updating surveillance information on the state’s Emerging Diseases
website, presenting to public health, healthcare provider, student, and
other audiences on the topic of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, and
responding to the public on questions regarding these topics.
Director, Environmental Health and Safety
Assistant Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
Assistant General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
University Physician, Olin Health Center