The Committee on Assessment of Biohazards and Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight was formed in January of 1975, to ensure the safe and responsible conduct of biological research at MIT. The composition and structure of the CAB/ESCRO conforms to the requirements of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules, and the National Academy of Sciences Guidance on Oversight of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2005).  The scope of the CAB/ESCRO has changed over time to provide a more consistent and cohesive oversight process for a range of biological research and new technologies. 


The CAB/ESCRO oversight process is based on the requirement that all biological that falls within the committee’s purview is registered, reviewed and approved on an annual basis at meetings of the CAB/ESCRO.  The CAB/ESCRO Review and Approval Process is based on the completion and submission of the Biological Research Registration Form to the Biosafety Program.  The Biosafety Program provides administrative support to the CAB/ESCRO.  The Deputy Director for BSP serves as the Institutional Biosafety Officer and contact person for the CAB/ESCRO.


At MIT, the CAB/ESCRO must give annual approval for the continuation of all biological research involving:

  • recombinant DNA technologies
  • human, animal or plant pathogens including prions
  • primary human cells tissues or materials
  • established human cell lines  
  • human embryonic stem (hES) cells  
  • use of biological agents at BL1 or greater including viral vectors
  • nanoparticle-based gene or drug delivery systems

The Committee has also developed policies establishing guidelines for the safe and responsible conduct of biological research in the laboratory and the use of various biological materials in animals. The CAB/ESCRO along with the Biosafety Program work with the MIT Occupational Health Program to determine the necessity for immunizations or health surveillance for personnel involved in biological research projects.