Anissa Bello
Anissa Bello
Anissa Bello
Helios Scholar
School: McClintock High School
Hometown: Tempe, Arizona
Mentor: Kathleen Kennedy


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Biosafety and the use of viral vectors

While conducting research, safety is always of principal concern. Researchers at TGen routinely use gene editing tools such as adenoviral vectors, lentiviral vectors and a new technology known as CRISPR/Cas9 without a singular training or standard operating procedure (SOP) to refer to for safe handling and disposal of these vectors.

While safe handling SOPs and training materials are available, they are fragmented and difficult to find. The goal was to create one SOP and one required training module for researchers who work with viral vectors. In order to create the training and SOP that was necessary, an extensive literature review was conducted covering the topics of biosafety, viral vectors, and gene editing. Additionally, many viral vector safety protocols were deconstructed, compared, and “benchmarked” to ensure alignment of current best practices in safety.

Once the benchmarking and literature review was completed, a singular SOP for Safe Handling of Viral Vectors was comprised. Using the SOP as a guide, a training module was also created and uploaded to TGen Academy, the interface used for all personnel training at TGen. This training is now mandatory to be completed by anyone who uses or plans to work with the viral vectors mentioned above.

There are 20 people currently enrolled in this training, with more to be enrolled soon, and the SOP is in the process of being approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee that oversees recombinant DNA at TGen. Ultimately, this required training and singular SOP not only improves safe work practices, but provides a common understanding of procedures to follow by all personnel at TGen who conduct work with viral vectors.