Frequently Asked Questions regarding COVID-19

Q. Is the COMS office operating as usual?

A. Yes. The Harvard COMS offices are fully functional and operating at normal capacity. All COMS staff members are currently working remotely. Meetings requiring more than 20 members are currently being held remotely. Harvard University and Harvard Medical School are closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The health, safety and well-being of our community, on and off campus, is our top priority.

Q. Who is the best contact for questions about my COMS review process?

A. For any questions regarding your COMS applications please reach out to or your institutional biosafety officer.

Q. What is the purpose of the COMS office?

A. COMS serves as the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) for Harvard as well as the Harvard-affiliated medical research institutions listed under our website

Complete closure of the Harvard COMS office would be an extremely rare occurrence as all Harvard COMS office use an electronic submission system, can work remotely, and can hold meetings virtually using ZOOM.

The Office of Biological Safety facilitates the Committee on Microbiological Safety (COMS). COMS is a standing faculty committee that reviews all research involving recombinant DNA as well as work involving biohazards at Harvard and its 10 affiliated institutions. The Office provides the administrative support for the Committee and the technical review of COMS applications. The Office also supports the biosafety programs at these institutions by providing additional risk assessment as well as establishing policies and procedures.


The Committee on Microbiological Safety (COMS), along with the affiliated Institutional Biosafety Officers, is pleased to announce that the electronic research management system to streamline COMS processes. e-COMS is now live and accepting electronic registrations! The system should greatly smooth the COMS application and renewal process and will now allow you to submit, maintain and renew your COMS registration(s) online. Effective today, all new registrations and amendments must be submitted through the new online system. COMS has developed a quick reference guide and e-COMS fundamentals training to help Principal Investigators and other laboratory staff navigate through the new electronic submission process.

Log in to e-COMS at

BSO-hosted training will be available at all of the affiliated institutions on a regular basis. For further details, contact your BSO.

To consolidate user log-ins across university-wide, eCOMS will be utilizing the HarvardKey for system access. If you do not have a HarvardKey you can obtain one by filling out an application.



Other announcements:

  • COMS has created a frequently asked questions document regarding Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules.
  • The latest version of the NIH Guidelines can be found here.