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.  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 research 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 (BRR) Form to the EHS Biosafety Program (BSP).  BSP provides administrative support to the CAB/ESCRO.  The EHS Associate Director for BSP serves as the Institutional Biosafety Officer, Executive Secretary, and contact person for the CAB/ESCRO.


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

  • Research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid (rDNA or SNA) technologies (including viral vectors)
  • All uses of microorganisms
  • Human, animal or plant pathogens including prions
  • Human and non-human primate (NHP) materials, cells, and tissues
  • Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)
  • Nanoparticle-based gene or drug delivery systems
  • Use of any of the biological materials listed above in animals or humans
  • All academic courses with laboratory components that utilize any of the biological materials listed above

The CAB/ESCRO along with the EHS 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.