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Regulatory Charge & Governing Principles of IACUC

Regulatory Charge

Ensuring that animals are used appropriately and cared for humanely is a responsibility borne by both the scientific community and society at large. There are good reasons to use animals in research and in other projects, but respect for life and the duty not to cause unnecessary harm place constraints on those activities.

Upholding the University's responsibility toward its animals is the charge of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), as specified by the current Board of Regents' policy on "Animal Care and Use."

The IACUC oversees all of the University's programs and facilities that either house or use animals. Its primary task is to review proposals for projects that involve animals to ensure that those projects fulfill two general criteria:

  • the benefits of animal use must outweigh the ethical cost; and
  • the welfare of the animals involved must be ensured.

The scope of the IACUC’s responsibility for review covers all animal use at all University of Minnesota campuses and facilities.

The IACUC also regularly inspects each project and facility that uses animals, reevaluates the University's overall animal care and use program semi-annually, and facilitates the training and education of the research community and general public regarding animal care and use.



Governing Principles

The IACUC’s authority is founded in and guided by many sources, including regulatory statutes, institutional policies, ethical canons, and members’ own perceptions of community and professional standards.

While interpretive differences between these governing principles may exist, it should be noted that regulations offering the most stringent guidelines for the protection of animals used in research and teaching are followed. Furthermore, these principles are to be upheld without regard to whether the research is subject to federal regulation, with whom the research is conducted, or the source of support for the research.

At the heart of the federal requirements is the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals in testing, research, and training. This policy provides the core of the operational guidelines for the University of Minnesota Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

In addition, the University's policies on animal use adhere to the following federal requirements:

These policies cover, but are not limited to, the following: the acquisition, care and use of animals; efforts to minimize animal pain and distress; the training of personnel using animals; consideration of alternatives to animal use; methods whereby deficiencies in animal care and treatment are reported; and the charge of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.



About the Regulatory Documents

Animal Welfare Act as Amended (7 USC 2131-2156)

Administered by the USDA, the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966 and its amendments regulate the transportation, purchase, care, and treatment of animals used in research. The Act specifically includes dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, and wild animal species intended for use in research.

It should be noted that birds are currently excluded from the Act, as are rats and mice that are specifically bred for research. Farm animals are now included if they are being used for purposes other than food or fiber production.

The 1985 amendments to the AWA address such issues as exercise for dogs; care of nonhuman primates to ensure their psychological well- being; the composition and duties of the IACUC; responsibilities of the attending veterinarian; and training of all personnel using laboratory animals in experimentation. The amendments also require the IACUC to review all protocols using animals to ensure that they meet criteria listed in the amendments, and to conduct semiannual inspections of all animal study areas and animal facilities.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, oversees compliance with the Act. Research facilities are subject to unannounced inspections by USDA veterinarians, and are required to file an annual report listing the species and numbers of animals used in research, and certify that anesthetic, analgesic, and tranquilizing drugs are used appropriately during research and testing.

go toAnimal Welfare Act Regulations


Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

The PHS Policy requires each institution that receives PHS funds for research involving animals to file an Animal Welfare Assurance statement with OLAW.

This statement commits the institution to compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide), Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training, and other applicable laws and regulations. The statement must describe in detail the institution's program for the care and use of animals (including mice, rats, and birds) and its program for assuring compliance with the PHS Policy.

The PHS Policy requires institutional animal care and use committees to approve the care and use of animals as proposed in PHS grant applications before funds will be awarded. Animal care and use committees also are required to conduct semi-annual assessments of the institution's program for care and use of animals, using the Guide as a basis for evaluation.

go toPHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals


Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-158)

Passed by Congress on November 20, 1985, this law provides the statutory mandate for the PHS Policy.

go toHealth Research Extension Act of 1985


Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training (1985)

Promulgated in 1985 by the Interagency Research Animal Committee and adopted by the U.S. government agencies that either develop requirements for or sponsor procedures involving the use of live vertebrate animals, the Principles were incorporated into the 1986 PHS Policy and provide a framework for research conducted in accordance with the Policy.

go toPrinciples for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals


Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, National Research Council, 1996)

In the United States, many organizations involved in animal research have published their own guidelines related to animal care, use, or specific procedures. The most well known is the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, published by the National Research Council, and most recently revised in 1996.

The Guide is the primary resource used by American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) and is widely recognized throughout the international scientific community.

go toGuide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals


2009 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia

Summarizing contemporary scientific knowledge of euthanasia methods and practices, the Report serves as a workable guideline for the IACUC in determining appropriate proposed methods of euthanasia when evaluating proposed research.

go to2007 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia


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