Biological Materials

Anyone who plans to use biological materials for research, teaching or testing purposes at the U of A must enroll in the HSE database. The institutional Biosafety Officer will review your registration to determine if you will be working with regulated biological materials.

Regulated Biological Materials

Regulated biological materials go beyond those that are pathogenic or that can cause other deleterious effects (e.g. bacteria, viruses, prions, biological toxins and pests) to include materials that have the potential to be or to act as a carrier of a biohazardous agent, such as:

  • animal tissues and byproducts.
  • aquatic species.
  • food from foreign sources.
  • human clinical specimens.
  • eukaryotic cell lines.
  • plants and plant derivatives.
  • soil.
  • environmental samples.

Documentation requirements surrounding the shipment of regulated biological materials can be complicated and may involve regulatory permits and forms from commercial suppliers. Do NOT attempt to complete the transfer process yourself. Get help from HSE.

Biotransfers: How to Get Help

Depending on the material you are shipping or ordering, its destination or origin, and which regulators are involved, it can take months to receive proper documentation. To expedite the process:

  1. Register in the HSE database.
  2. Once you have registered, log in to the HSE database , navigate to the homepage of the lab you will be shipping to/from, and "Request a biotransfer." For more information, refer to the database manual.
  3. Participate in the process: Respond to requests for information from the Biosafety Officer quickly.
  4. Keep the Biosafety Officer informed: If anything changes or you have new information about the transfer, notify the Biosafety Officer at as soon as possible.
  5. Be patient: HSE receives requests for transfer assistance each week. Your request will be processed in the order it was received.

Regulators + Regulations

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Polio Global Eradication Initiative

The Polio Global Eradication Initiative

  • Led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Ongoing for decades and now entering its final phase.
  • Requires reporting of work with or storage of Polio potentially infectious materials (PIM):
    • Human fecal samples
    • Human respiratory samples
    • Concentrated sewage samples (or derivatives)
  • University researchers who work with or store Polio PIM must complete an annual reporting form.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Employees, Students


Safety & Security

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