Biosecurity: am I doing everything I can?

Biosafety Month 2022  

Wait! What IS Biosecurity?

If the thoughts “wait, what is biosecurity?” or “am I doing everything I can?” have ever crossed your mind in regards to biosecurity, you probably could be doing more. 

First, let’s start with what “biosecurity” means. Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to prevent the loss, theft or intentional misuse of biological agents. If you are part of a bio lab on campus, you’ve heard of biosafety and likely have had a lab visit from someone in the Office of Biological Safety. During the lab visit, biosecurity was likely a topic and, depending on your biosafety level, your biosecurity concerns may have been addressed at the same time. 

The general rule for biosecurity is: the higher the biosafety level, the more security you should incorporate. Additionally, if you have combined use of plants or animals in your biological research, be sure the measures taken when working with microbes in this context are adequate to prevent the microbes from leaving your lab. 

Putting it simply: biosecurity means that you are taking measures to prevent your biological materials from getting out of your lab.   

Best Practices

Here are some biosecurity best practices:   

  • Everyone has a role in maintaining a secure environment—ensure staff are properly trained.
  • Security also includes your data—ensure you have proper cybersecurity measures in place.
  • Safeguard your goods!  Keep doors to laboratories and freezers/refrigerators locked 
  • Know who belongs and who doesn’t— train and empower staff to recognize and acknowledge strangers loitering suspiciously.
  • If you see someone or something suspicious, report it: 
    • Non-emergency situations can be reported to the UW Police Department by calling the non-emergency dispatch number at 608-264-2677. 
    • If you feel unsafe, call 911. 

If you would like more information on biosecurity, or if you have any questions related to your lab’s biosecurity: please contact the Office of Biological Safety by calling 608-263-2037 or via email: 


colorful illustration with stick figure people and colorful shapes representing biological safety concepts with lines connected and gray world continents map in backgroundIt’s Biosafety and Biosecurity Month 2022! Learn about the latest biological safety updates that impact labs like yours on the UW–Madison campus, and get the flyer to help spread the word.

The UW-Madison Office of Biological Safety is a proud member of the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA).