A Guide to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
Many people think that the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) exists only to enforce rules and regulations. In reality, the IACUC, which is found at every university involved in federally funded animal research, can be a great resource to investigators by helping them determine the best methods for ensuring animal health and welfare while accomplishing the goals of a study.
Here is what you should know about the IACUC so you consider it an asset in your research.
What is the role of the IACUC?
- Oversee and evaluate the animal research program, including review of individual protocols involving live vertebrate animals and of the overall program
- Provide animal research training and educational programs
- Inspect animal laboratories and facilities
- Maintain compliance with regulations, policies, and guidelines
- Interact with researchers to ensure their ability to complete their research while maintaining compliance
The last role is really important and especially true when a researcher is developing a new methodology or area of study.
For example, there are times when a study would not be possible as initially proposed by the researcher because it would not fully adhere to all of the rules and regulations. The IACUC works with investigators to determine the best way to reach their goals while remaining fully compliant.
Ideally, investigators, the veterinary staff, and the IACUC work together to achieve the desired outcomes.
Who serves on the IACUC?
United States animal welfare regulations require:
- A veterinarian
- A member of the public not affiliated with the institution or its employees
The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which outlines regulations and requirements and is required by the Public Health Service (PHS) for NIH-funded animal research, is also widely accepted as an important reference in international research.
The Guide’s requirements are more extensive and mandate the IACUC have:
- A veterinarian
- At least one scientist involved in animal research
- At least one non-scientist
- At least one member of the public not affiliated with the institution or its employees and also not involved in animal research to represent general community interests
What is the role of the IACUC chair?
- Report on the IACUC’s activities to the Institutional Official (IO), who has the authority to sign the institution’s Assurance that requirements of the PHS policy on oversight of animal research are met
- Oversee the activities of the IACUC
- Assign protocols to the committee members for review
Why should you serve on the IACUC?
- Contribute greatly to the care and welfare of animals, and gain a better understanding of regulations and policies, which can help to shape your own research
- Meet a variety of people from across your institution
- Learn about exciting and interesting animal research, providing you an opportunity to establish new collaborations
The best research only results from studies in which animals are healthy and treated humanely.
Sign up for SfN’s webinar, Changing Animal Rights Tactics and What It Means for Today’s Researcher’s, to learn more about the topic.