The use of animals in research, testing and teaching is primarily governed by two federal laws and their associated regulations, policies and guidelines –

  1. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Animal Welfare Act Regulations (AWR)
  2. The Health Research Extension Act (HREA) with the associated Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy; 1985) and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (1963, 2011, 8th ed).

In 1985, the Animal Welfare Act was amended to include a requirement that all research institutions establish an institutional oversight board with specified duties for assuring compliance with the AWA. At about the same time, the Health Research Extension Act required research institutions that receive PHS funding to establish animal care oversight committees. Together, these requirements led to the birth of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or IACUC. While the specific requirements of each law and their associated regulations and policies differ slightly from one another, the overall goals are the same – to ensure the proper care of animals used for teaching and research. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee is instrumental in implementing federal and local policies, and ensuring excellent care for animals.

The composition of the IACUC committee is mandated by the PHS policy and the AWARs to include:

  1. Scientists (faculty researchers/educators)

  2. The attending veterinarian (AV) or a veterinarian with authority to act on behalf of the AV.

  3. Nonscientists (e.g. ethicists, statisticians, etc.)

  4. Individuals (1 or 2) not associated with the Campus

Our practice is to include faculty researchers and educators from all major units that participate in animal research or teaching at the University of Maryland (e.g. Biology, Animal Sciences, Psychology, etc.) so that protocol review is informed by expertise as much as possible.

PIs may wish to view IACUC members from their unit as resources through which the PI may obtain assistance, information, and/or clarification on protocol submission and processing.

Robert Dooling, Professor, Department of Psychology