All research conducted by the FSU iGEM team is in accordance with the safety policies and rules from iGEM, Florida State University, and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. Laboratory safety is the number one priority when working in any lab, especially where we did most of our work: the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Cell & Tissue Engineering Laboratory. Understanding the voltatility and hazards associated with trimethylamine was important before we began testing.

Safety in the Laboratory

First, we had a training session with Dr. Arce. Knowing all the risks associated with laboratories, our Biomedical Engineering advisor, Dr. Arce, trained us on the basics of laboratory safety. This includes where all the safety equipment is such as the eyewash station. We also were made to know emergency contacts, the location of the fire alarm, and where all the PPE is to ensure our safety in the lab, as safety is our priority. After this session, we signed a form confirming our clearance to work safely in his laboratory.

After this, we were comfortable and able to proceed with labwork. We adhered to always wearing proper PPE in the lab: Lab coats, gloves, hot hands, pants, and close-toed shoes. We safely disposed of all E. coli samples in biohazard trash containers. We stored TMA and acetonitrile in a flammable cabinet. When aliquoting TMA and acetonitrile, these volatile compounds are flammable and vaporize. Working in a fume hood with these compounds mitigated the risks associated with these vapors. When disposing of TMA or anything that encountered it, we sealed these samples in a biohazard bag and alerted the laboratory staff to clear these biohazard trash containers. These were the main steps taken to ensure safety of all members working in the lab [1].

Patient Safety

With the patients we have encountered, it is vital to make sure their comfort and respect is honored. The HP team ensured we asked for consent to use quotes, dialogue, or any recorded materials from TMAU patients. We always honored the rights nad cares of patients, being sure to demonstrate respect for members of the TMAU community. Many patients we spoke to did not want to be recorded or have their identities known, hence the use of quotes and ensuring those who shared their experience with us are happy with how the FSU 2023 iGEM team portrays their words and the disease [2].

Laboratory Safety Equipment

This is the fume hood used in the lab for handling all TMA, acetonitrile, and FMOC-Chloride related laboratory experiments

These are the waste boxes that we used to contain all of the TMA and the disposable laboratory equipment after sample preparation. This work was placed into biohazard waste bags and then placed into this box.

The above image is the binder with the safety documents we all signed after being trained in the laboratory by Dr. Stephen Arce.

SDS Sheets are the relevant sheets of information for all safety concerns, hazards, and properties of compounds. For TMA, FMOC, and Acetonitrile, we referenced these SDS sheets to understand what precautions to take in the laboratory.


[1] OSHA. (2011, August). Laboratory safety guidance - occupational safety and health administration. OSHA Fact Sheet: Laboratory Safety Biosafety Cabinets (BSCs). https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA3404laboratory-safety-guidance.pdf

[2] Shah, P., Thornton, I., Turrin, D., & Hipskind, J. E. (2023, June 5). Informed consent - statpearls - NCBI bookshelf. Informed Consent. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430827/