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Recombinant DNA

Cambridge is a global center for biotechnology research and manufacturing, with more than 50 biotechnology and pharmaceutical laboratories located within city limits.

In 1977, Cambridge became the first city in the world to regulate the manipulation of genetic material.  The Cambridge Recombinant DNA Technology Ordinance establishes strict oversight of university and commercial laboratories that engage in recombinant DNA research.  The requirements set forth in the city ordinance are based on the widely employed National Institutes of Health (NIH) Guidelines for Research Involving DNA Molecules.

Enforcement of the city’s Recombinant DNA Technology Ordinance is carried out by the Cambridge  Biosafety Committee. The committee is comprised of Cambridge residents with no ties to the industry and it is staffed by the Cambridge Public Health Department. The committee strives to quickly guide Cambridge laboratories through the regulatory process. 

Permits are issued year-round, and are renewed every January.


For more information about recombinant DNA permits, please contact:

Sam Lipson, REHS
Director of Environmental Health
Cambridge Public Health Department


Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

Hours: Monday-Friday:
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
After Hours

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Derrick Neal
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