Laboratory Animals Used for Teaching and Research

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

The experimental use of laboratory animals plays an essential role in University research and education efforts. The University recognizes and accepts its legal and ethical obligations for the humane treatment of animals used in its classrooms and laboratories. To meet these obligations, the University has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC, appointed by the Institutional Official, is recognized as the principal point of communication about laboratory animal and use issues for the University.

I. Background

The use of animals is essential to the teaching and research missions of UNC Charlotte and the University is committed to their judicious and humane use.  Significant benefits to the health and welfare of both animals and humans have resulted from animal use in research, and continued use is crucial to future advancements.  Moreover, without the use of animals, adequate instruction of students in the life sciences would be impossible.  However, those who use animals are morally and legally obligated to care for them properly and use them humanely.  In support of this obligation, the University has sought and obtained full accreditation of its Animal Care and Use Program from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALACi).  The University is committed to maintaining that accreditation, and each faculty member, staff member, or student involved in the use of animals is responsible for protecting their welfare and for knowing, understanding, and complying with applicable laws.

II. Policy

To meet its ethical and legal obligations, the University has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to oversee the University's animal care and use programs, facilities, and procedures and ensure the appropriate care, use, and humane treatment of animals being used for research and teaching. The Committee and its chair are appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research for 3-year staggered terms, and must have at least five (5) members including a veterinarian, a scientist, a non-scientist and a community representative not otherwise affiliated with the University.

Vertebrate animals will be used for research and teaching only when no other appropriate means are available, and when every effort has been made to minimize animal pain and discomfort.  The number of animals used for a research project will be the minimum number necessary to produce scientifically valid results, and, where possible, animal research will be replaced by alternative methods.

The housing, care, feeding and observation of all animals must be supervised by individuals trained in such matters.  Managers of animal care facilities are expected to meet the guidelines set forth in the Animal Care & Use Policies & Guidelines or other guides as adopted by the IACUC.

Animal use shall be planned and conducted so as to avoid or minimize pain and distress to the animals. Procedures involving animals must be performed by, or be closely supervised by a faculty or staff member who is skilled in the procedure.  Students taking part in such procedures must be appropriately instructed and supervised.  If any experimental or demonstrative procedure, or its consequences, has the potential to induce significant and/or lasting pain, distress or suffering, appropriate methods of tranquilization, anesthesia and analgesia must be used.  Any painful or distressful procedure, regardless of whether it can or cannot be obviated, must be reviewed and approved in advance by the IACUC.

Procedures for euthanasia must be performed in a manner consistent with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s latest recommendations and guidelines and all proposed methods must be approved in advance by the University Veterinarian and the IACUC.

III. Responsibilities

Vice Chancellor for Research

The University’s animal care and use program is the ultimate responsibility of the Chancellor, who has delegated responsibility for the program to the Vice Chancellor for Research. The Vice Chancellor for Research serves as the Institutional Official (IO), a position defined by federal law and PHS Policy, and is responsible for signing the PHS Assurance and for committing University resources to ensure that the requirements of the PHS Policy and the Animal Welfare Act are met.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

The IACUC assures that animal care and use are in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations as well as University policy and assurances.  The basis of compliance is determined by the Animal Welfare Act (U.S.C., Title 7, Sections 2131-2156), the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, accrediting agency guidelines, and accepted standards of best practice.  The IACUC reviews all requests for approval to use live vertebrate animals, performs inspections of all areas and laboratories where animals are housed and used, and oversees training and educational programs.  The IACUC serves as a resource to faculty, staff, and students, providing guidance in fulfilling the obligation to plan and conduct all animal use procedures with the highest scientific, humane, and ethical principles, and has the authority to negotiate modifications and suspend or terminate animal activities deemed not in compliance with regulations and best practice.

Investigators and Research Personnel

Faculty members or University staff who plan to use live vertebrate animals in their research and/or teaching are responsible for knowing and understanding this Policy and IACUC procedures, for obtaining IACUC approval for the use of animals, and for adherence to all federal, state, and local laws.  In addition, faculty investigators are responsible for completing periodic training to remain current on federal, state, and local regulations, University policies and procedures, and animal care and use technology.  Faculty investigators are also responsible for ensuring that all associated lab personnel receive the appropriate level of training and proficiency in animal handling and manipulation and are knowledgeable about the procedures and techniques they will be using, as well as lab safety issues and precautions when working with live animals.

Office of Research Compliance

The Office of Research Compliance provides administrative support to the IACUC, including coordination of submission of animal care/use protocols and protocol amendments, maintenance of support documentation related to the program, and submission of reports to the various Federal and professional accreditation entities which oversee the University’s compliance with applicable Federal laws governing humane animal care and use.  In addition, the Office of Research Compliance serves as a liaison between the University Vivarium, the Attending Veterinarian, the Institutional Official, the Student Health Center, and the Environmental Health and Safety Office, as well as government agencies, in the implementation of the animal care and use program.  Finally, in collaboration with the IACUC, the Office of Research Compliance establishes and publishes procedures for the implementation of this Policy.  These procedures will be consistent and current with all applicable Federal, state, and local laws related to the humane care and use of live animals.

Revision History: 
  • Initially approved June 3, 1994
  • Updated October 29, 2004
  • Revised November 29, 2011
  • Updated November 16, 2022
  • Updated Responsible Office December 19, 2023

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Division of Research

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