The University of Iowa

Vertebrate Animals in Research and Instruction

  1. Introduction
  2. Animal Protocol Review
  3. Animal Protocol Approval and Modification
  4. Animal Procurement, Housing, and Care

a. Intr​oduction

University of Iowa faculty, staff, and/or students conducting research and/or instruction using live, vertebrate animals must conform to the regulations outlined in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Welfare Act, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the National Research Council Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

To ensure compliance with these regulations, the UI's Office of Animal Resources (OAR) manages and administers a centralized program of laboratory animal care. The OAR works to improve the quality of research proposals that utilize animals; to make the animal care and use regulatory process easier for investigators and teachers; and, most importantly, to ensure the welfare of the animals used in research and instruction. The OAR is responsible for a range of service and regulatory responsibilities, including procuring and housing animals and equipment; monitoring compliance with regulatory requirements; providing veterinary and husbandry care; planning animal facilities building and maintenance; program planning and maintenance; cost-accounting and recharging; the utilization of space; providing technical services in support of research; consulting with UI personnel regarding animal care and use; training UI personnel in humane and technical aspects of animal care and use; and providing expertise for undergraduate and graduate courses where presentation of information on use and care of animals is appropriate. The OAR is centrally managed by a staff of trained animal caretakers, veterinary technicians, and veterinarians.

The OAR is also responsible for assisting the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which reviews and approves research protocols involving animals and recommends policies and procedures regarding the care of experimental animals. The IACUC efforts are central to effective regulations and procedures that ensure the welfare of animals used in research and instruction.

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b. Animal Protocol Review

For each protocol involving the care and use of vertebrate animals, the Principal Investigator (PI) must submit an Animal Protocol  (AP) form for review and approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). In order to approve the proposed protocol, the IACUC must determine the proposed animal care and use meets the following requirements:

  • Procedures with animals will avoid or minimize discomfort, distress, and pain to the animals, consistent with sound experimental design.
  • Procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals will be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia, unless the non-use of such agents is justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the investigator.
  • Animals that would otherwise experience severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved will be painlessly killed at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.
  • The living conditions of animals will be appropriate for their species and contribute to their health and comfort.
  • Medical care for animals will be available and provided as necessary by a qualified veterinarian.
  • Personnel conducting procedures on the species being maintained or studied will be appropriately qualified and trained in those procedures.
  • Methods of euthanasia will be consistent with the most recent recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia, unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the investigator.

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c. Animal Protocol Approval and Modification

All protocols involving live, vertebrate animals must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee before they are initiated. It is the Principal Investigator's responsibility to ensure that every animal involved in experimentation is covered by and traceable to an approved protocol. Each proposal is allowed a specific number of animals, which cannot be exceeded without approval from the IACUC. It is therefore important that the investigator correctly specify the approved protocol number when ordering animals.

Approved protocols are considered sponsor- and project-specific. If a project is funded by multiple funders, the PI must modify the AP review form to include all sponsors. Likewise, the PI must notify the IACUC of any significant changes regarding the use of animals in ongoing activities -- e.g., changing the species; using larger numbers of animals; changing the use of pain-relieving drugs; changing post-procedural care; and utilizing more painful procedures -- so the AP can be reviewed and modified accordingly.

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d. Animal Procurement, Housing, and Care

All animals to be used in research or instruction must be procured through the Office of Animal Resources unless specific prior approval has been obtained for a variance from this requirement.

Per University policy, animals may be housed in the laboratory for no more than 12 hours unless previously approved by the IACUC. Due to the structural and physical plant requirements embodied in the regulations, housing animals outside the OAR facilities is not generally permitted.

The OAR provides housing and care for all vertebrate animals on the UI campus. Daily animal care is the responsibility of animal technicians who work for the OAR.

The Office of the IACUC is available to assist with any questions on the Animal Protocol review form requirements and process, encouraging investigators to visit IACUC staff in Room L350 of the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building, call 335-4773, and/or e-mail Additional information is also available on the IACUC website.

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