Mission StatementThe mission of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is to assure the well-being and proper care of all vertebrate animals used for research and educational purposes at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and to serve the public by ensuring institutional compliance with all legal and ethical standards regarding the use of animals in research. In addition, the IACUC is engaged in assisting animal research investigators with their animal-related needs.
Why must we have an IACUC?All institutions that use vertebrate animals for research, teaching, research training and biological testing are required to create an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to oversee and evaluate all aspects of the institution's animal care and use program. The IACUC is a self-regulating body mandated by two Federal agencies and the regulations and policies they are charged with enforcing: 1.) the Animal Welfare Act and its amendments, which are administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and 2.) the Health Research Extension Act and its amendments, which are administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).
Who sits on the IACUC?The IACUC must be comprised of a minimum of five members including a veterinarian with special knowledge of laboratory animal medicine who has prescribed program responsibilities; a scientist experienced in laboratory animal procedures; a non-scientist; and a non-affiliated member (a person who has no affiliation with the university other than being a member of the IACUC and who represents general community interest in proper animal care). The UTSA IACUC consists of 9 voting members possessing the qualifications listed above, and two non-voting members involved in supervisory aspects of the Laboratory Animal Resources Center (LARC). Two alternate members have also been appointed.
What are the responsibilities of the IACUC?The responsibilities of the IACUC include, but are not limited to the following list.
The IACUC will:
1. Inspect all of the animal facilities, including animal study areas and satellite facilities at least once every six months.
2. Review the Animal Care Program for the utilization of animals in research at least once every six months.
3. Review and approve, require modifications to, or withhold approval of animal care and use protocols.
4. Review and investigate legitimate concerns involving the care and use of laboratory animals raised by the public, employees or students.
5. Suspend animal use activities if non-compliance is verified; take corrective action and report both the non-compliance and the corrective action taken to the Institution al Official and funding agencies.
Is the IACUC responsible for judging the scientific merit of proposals?According to OLAW FAQ D.12:
"Peer review of the scientific and technical merit of an application is considered the purview of the NIH Scientific Review Groups (SRGs), which are composed of scientific experts from the extramural research community in a particular area of expertise. However, SRGs also have authority to raise specific animal welfare concerns that can require resolution prior to a grant award.
Although not intended to conduct peer review of research proposals, the IACUC is expected to include consideration of the U.S. Government Principles in its review of protocols. Principle II calls for an evaluation of the relevance of a procedure to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society. Other PHS Policy review criteria refer to sound research design, rationale for involving animals, and scientifically valuable research. Presumably a study that could not meet these basic criteria is inherently unnecessary and wasteful and, therefore, not justifiable.
The primary focus of the SRG is scientific merit and the primary focus of the IACUC is animal welfare. The two bodies have differing constitutions, mandates and functions. However, since it is not entirely possibly to separate scientific value from animal welfare some overlap is inevitable. SRGs may raise concerns about animal welfare and IACUCs may question the scientific rationale or necessity for a procedure. [A1]"