UMCES Institutional Policies and Governance for Humane Animal Care and Use

Site Outline

  1. General Introduction
  2. Purpose, Membership, and Activities of the UMCES IACUC
  3. UMCES Occupational Health and Safety Program: Animal Use Concerns
  4. Procedures for Submission and Review Process of Protocol Applications
  5. UMCES Animal Use-Related Documents and Forms
  6. Other Sites of Information
  7. October 5, 2009, Training Class PowerPoint Presentations

Section 1. General Introduction

UMCES, as mandated by the Federal Animal Welfare Act, has an approved Assurance through the Public Health Service (PHS) that regulates how research/ teaching activities involving vertebrates are carried out at UMCES facilities or as part of field programs.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has an institutional program to insure appropriate humane care and use of vertebrate animals at UMCES laboratory facilities or field programs and under any activities carried out as part of UMCES research grants and contracts. This Animal Care and Use Program is based upon and consistent with federal and state animal welfare laws. UMCES has on file with the Public Health Service (PHS) a written Assurance that commits UMCES to following the standards and regulations established by Public Health Service (PHS) Policies and requirements of the Federal Animal Welfare Act. This web page provides information and guidance to UMCES faculty, staff, and students on humane and safe practices that need to be used in handling vertebrates and procedures that must be followed before receiving approval for use in research or instructional work that involves vertebrates.

UMCES' institutional policy does not permit laboratory research on any vertebrates other than fish, amphibians, and reptiles; field studies of birds and mammals are allowed where there is no significant effect on the animals being studied. This limitation forms the basis for developing and tailoring the broader specifics of the UMCES institutional guidelines and policies for the use of animals in research and educational activities. Much of the available literature deals with concerns specific to the humane care and use of mammals and primates. In our protocol guidelines, policies, and procedures we have focused on how best to apply general principles to the more specific problems associated with fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

In the following pages we urge that UMCES faculty, staff, and students, as part of an environmentally conscious community, consider sensible, prudent, and human treatment of all life.

Anyone at UMCES or from the public who would like to report concerns of animal care and use at UMCES should feel free to contact the Chair or any member of UMCES Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) with their confidential concerns. A list of the Committee members is on this website under section 2.b.

Section 2. Purpose, Membership, and Activities of the UMCES IACUC

2.a Purpose of the IACUC

UMCES, in compliance with federal law, has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to insure that all activities are in compliance with the Federal Animal Welfare Act, other applicable federal and state law, and PHS and institutional policy. The IACUC is a federally mandated committee that must oversee all research and teaching at those institutions that receive federal funds for research and/or teaching. Many granting agencies other than federal also require some process and oversight by which proposed research using animals is reviewed, approved, and overseen. The IACUC develops and recommends to UMCES policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures to insure compliance with the various federal and state animal welfare and humane use regulations and policies. All proposed use of vertebrate animals in research and/or teaching needs first to be reviewed and approved by the IACUC. Policy and procedures governing the care and use of vertebrate animals in research at UMCES is contained in the UMCES Assurance.

2.b IACUC Members:

IACUC members are appointed by and report to the President of UMCES. Members of the IACUC include: animal researchers representing each Laboratory of UMCES, a veterinarian with experience in animal care in research situations, an UMCES employee not directly involved in using animals in institutional programs, and a citizen not associated with UMCES who can represent concerns of the community. In addition, there are at each of the three Laboratory sites of UMCES on call local veterinarians who can provide advice and assistance when needed. The IACUC bylaws provide organizational guidelines for carrying out its activities.

2.c IACUC Activities:

The committee serves in the following activities:

Section 3. UMCES Occupational Health and Safety Program: Animal Use Concerns.

An occupational health and safety program to maintain a safe and healthy workplace must be part of the overall animal use and care program. Because this arena of concern is broader than just potential problems to humans associated with using animals, the IACUC defers to the UMCES Safety Committees at the individual Laboratories. The IACUC advises each of the Laboratory Committees of protocols when they are approved so that the Safety Officer at the Laboratory in question is aware of any potential health/safety issues related to impending research/teaching activity.

UMCES personnel hiring procedures call for identifying those new employees who will be working with vertebrates and having them confirm vaccination/testing requirements (UMCES Animal Care and Use: Vaccination/Testing Verification Form)

A notice, Zoonotic Diseases of Fish Origin, should be brought to the attention of the attending physician or other health services provider by any employee working in close contact with fishes.

Employees working with amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds should also advise their attending physician or health services provider.

The IACUC does recommend general hygienic procedures when dealing with vertebrates (e.g., the use of laboratory clothing, gloves, hand washing) and recommends that personnel advise their health care personnel of any potential exposure associated with handling of fish, amphibians, and reptiles or birds/mammals in the field; to facilitate that awareness by employees and their health care providers the IACUC issues with each protocol a short description of potential exposures that should be given by the Principal Investigator to every laboratory personnel that comes in contact with vertebrates. The Principal Investigator is responsible if there is a potential health hazard to define hygienic protocols to be used in her/his laboratory facilities or in the field. These protocols will depend on the facility, research activities, hazards, and animal species.

Section 4. Procedures for Submission and Review Process of Protocol Applications.

Investigators submitting research proposals to their Laboratory Director must indicate whether vertebrate animals (limited to fish, amphibians, and reptiles in laboratory research) will be used in the proposed research. If so, the proposal will be processed by UMCES but granting agencies may require specific forms providing such information, at least advising the funding agency that the Principal Investigator of the Proposal is processing an application within her/his institution to insure the humane care and use of vertebrate animals associated with the proposal. Initiation of federal agency funding is contingent on having proposed research protocols approved BEFORE research funds are awarded. Agencies inquire from UMCES Grants Administration for verification of Protocol award.

The Principal Investigator is responsible for immediately submitting proposed research plans to the IACUC on the UMCES Protocol Form for Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research and Education. This form should be filled out, an electronic copy sent to the IACUC office, and a paper copy printed to obtain appropriate signatures (Principal Investigator of the grant and appropriate Laboratory Director). (The Laboratory Director will send the final signed copy onto the IACUC office.)

The following information should be considered in filling out the application. Protocol review is based upon the summary document, Principles for the Use of Animals in Research, Teaching, and Testing developed by the U.S. Interagency Research Animal Committee. According to these principles protocols need to:

  1. justify the use of animals by the value and nature of the proposed research as opposed to any suffering, pain or death that the animals will endure; (for a discussion of how to approach this question please see the paper by Bateson 1986. When to experiment on animals. New Scientist 20:30-32);
  2. provide a scientific rationale for the particular animal being used and the possibility and reasons pro and con of any alternative animal or mathematical models;
  3. justify the number of animals being used; i.e., that field sampling techniques and procedures and laboratory/field research activities attempts to use the minimum number of animals while insuring an adequate experimental design to answer the scientific question;
  4. describe procedures for appropriate and humane animal care and use;
  5. identify and describe procedures, or the need to withhold, appropriate use of anesthetics and analgesics and tranquilizers that will minimize stress, suffering, and pain, and criteria and methods for euthanasia.

Protocol applications need to be SUBMITTED AT LEAST TWO MONTHS, and earlier if possible in case there are some problems with the application, before anticipated use of animals. Animal use may not begin until the research protocol is approved. Protocols are reviewed and approved /approved with suggested modifications /additional information sought before approval /withhold approval.

All approved applications are assigned a protocol number. This number should be used in all correspondence and used on experimental tanks for identification purposes.

Please note that according to federal regulations, Animal Use Protocols may only be approved for up to three years. If you continue your project beyond three years, you will be out of compliance with public Health Service policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Principal Investigators are responsible for insuring, at least two months before an approved protocol expires on a continuing grant that a new (De Novo) application is submitted for review. The IACUC reviews annually all existing protocols and should be made aware if there are any significant changes that would affect the approved care and use of vertebrate animals.

After completing the above IACUC forms, please save them using your word processor. To submit these forms for review, please use the IACUC Upload Form.

After submitting your protocol form please submit original with original signatures to the Chair of IACUC, for the files.

For further information on the IACUC please contact the Chair of the IACUC , J. Edward Gates, at:

Section 5. UMCES Animal Use-Related Documents and Forms.

Section 6. Other Sites of Information

Section 7. October 5, 2009 Training Class Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations.

(Click on documents below to view presentations)

  1. IACUC - Amphibians & Reptiles
  2. IACUC - Field Studies
  3. IACUC - General Information
  4. IACUC - Veterinarian