The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) is an appointed standing committee at Arkansas Tech University, whose composition and responsibilities are mandated by the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 98-198).
All research at Arkansas Tech University that involves animal subjects must be reviewed and approved in accordance with federal law and university policy. Arkansas Tech University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee is charged with overseeing compliance with these federal regulations.
By law, the IACUC must be composed of, at a minimum, three members: a chairperson, a veterinarian with training or experience in laboratory animal medicine, and a non-affiliated member. A committee of this size would not be able to accomplish the numerous regulatory tasks required of the committee. To share the responsibility, as well as the work-load, the university IACUC is composed a variety of members including:
- Three veterinarians (One is the Chair of the committee)
- A professor who is a Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist
- A community representative
- A professor of Management
IACUC may use consultants, when required, for specific protocol review. The consultant may offer opinions and advice, but may not vote on any application for use.
According to the 9th Code of Federal Regulations (CFR9), it is the responsibility of the chief executive officer (CEO) of the institution (in our case, President Robin Bowen) to appoint all members of IACUC, and the institutional official (IO). The CEO has delegated the authority to appoint IACUC members to the Dean of Graduate College and Research, Dr. Richard Schoephoerster, as the Institutional Official.
As an Arkansas Tech University decision making body, the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) ensures that all animals in experimental research are used appropriately and treated in accordance with the highest standards of humane care.
IACUC represents society’s concerns regarding the welfare of animal subjects used and is expected to be the conscience for the institution on animal welfare concerns.
IACUC is responsible for keeping abreast of changes in animal use legislation and guidelines and recommending modifications to the institution’s program to ensure that research and any animal use program fully comply with the letter and spirit of the law.
IACUC is not a scientific review group, per se. All projects should have received appropriate, mission related and scientifically sound reviews prior to reaching IACUC. However, humane treatment and scientific methodology are closely related and often inseparable concepts. Therefore, the committee may discuss and review science only as it relates specifically to animal use.
While IACUC has numerous responsibilities in terms of program oversight, the duty most identified with IACUC is protocol review. IACUC conducts a thorough and comprehensive review of all new proposals and amendments to existing protocols.
All continuing protocols also receive annual review to ensure that no significant deviations from established and approved procedures have occurred. All principal investigators are required to complete an annual review report as part of this process.
When reviewing protocols, IACUC ensures that:
- All procedures involving animals will avoid or minimize pain and distress to the animal(s).
- The principal investigator has considered alternatives to procedures that cause more than momentary pain or distress to the animals.
- The principal investigator has provided written assurance that the protocol proposed does not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments.
- Appropriate anesthetics and analgesics are used when necessary.
- Personnel are properly trained to perform the proposed procedures.
- Activities that involve surgery provide for appropriate pre-operative and post-operative care and that aseptic practices are followed.
- Methods of euthanasia are consistent with methods set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Panel on Euthanasia.
IACUC is required to inspect, at least once every six months, the research institute’s animal facilities, including animal study areas, which are defined as any area in which animal work is performed. Not only is the physical facility inspected, such as animal housing and facility maintenance, but the entire animal program is reviewed. This involves reviewing animal health records, observing surgery, reviewing post-operative records, and reviewing the biosafety, chemical safety, radiation safety and occupational health program, as well as all USDA inspections; deficiencies, if noted, and responses to those deficiencies in order to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
IACUC makes a written report of its findings, which must be signed by a majority of committee members and must include minority views, if these views are expressed during the program inspection. This report is submitted to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. The results of these reviews are also transmitted to individual animal care faculty manager and researchers with recommendations or suggestions for improvement or corrections of noted deficiencies and a time frame for response for correction are given with each individual review. Problem areas not satisfactorily resolved by this communication mechanism are subsequently transmitted (with recommendations) to the President for ultimate resolution.
IACUC reviews and investigates, if necessary, any concerns involving the care and use of animals at the University resulting from complaints or reports of noncompliance. IACUC has the authority to suspend an activity that it previously approved if it determines that the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the description provided by the investigator in his/her protocol.