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Recombinant DNA/Viral Vectors


What are rDNA materials?

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) was originally created by cutting DNA segments with restriction enzymes, then re-combining them in a ligation reaction. Today, rDNA is commonly generated by PCR, de novo synthesis, or other methods. The NIH guidelines cover both rDNA and RNA that is derived from rDNA. The Duke Institutional Biosafety Committee considers the following as rDNA materials:

  • Plasmids and viral vectors
  • Any synthetic DNA or RNA
  • Any RNA produced from rDNA, including messenger RNA (mRNA), small interfering RNA (siRNA), micro RNA (miRNA), etc.
  • Genetically-modified organisms (animals, plants, bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.)

Researchers Responsibilities for Handling rDNA materials

Regardless of funding source, all recombinant DNA (rDNA) research at Duke University must comply with the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research. Each investigator working with rDNA is responsible for understanding and following the NIH guidelines.

All non-exempt research with rDNA materials must be registered with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) before it is initiated. This includes work with rDNA materials obtained from other scientists or from commercial sources.

Duke has developed a rDNA Survey Tool to assist researchers with determination of the exempt status of their rDNA work.

How do you register rDNA materials with the IBC?

Non-exempt research is registered by completing the Recombinant DNA Registration form and sending this document via e-mail to the Duke University Biosafety Office ( Other information may be required depending on the research involved and biocontainment level. Refer to documents under Duke Links on this page.