Do You Need IACUC Review?
Federal animal welfare regulations, U.S. Public Health Service Policy, and UCI Policy require that all activities involving the use of live vertebrate animals in research, research training, teaching, experimentation, biological testing or related purposes be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The scope of university research and teaching activities that involve animals is potentially wide-ranging. Sometimes the need for IACUC review isn’t clear and will depend on several variables.
Example activities that do or do not require IACUC review and approval:
Animal tissues / products collected from dead animals
There are three options for researchers to obtain animal tissues and products (blood, plasma, serum, cells, platelets, etc.) for their research/teaching activities:
- Sharing between labs,
- Purchasing from reputable vendors, or
- Submitting a UCI-IACUC protocol to be reviewed and approved for “sac-and-harvest” (live animals can then be purchased and euthanized prior to tissue harvest).
Sharing of animal tissues between collaborating labs is highly encouraged, as this replaces the use of live animals and represents a good application of the 3 R’s alternatives.
- Obtaining tissues from animals that are already euthanized for another lab’s research/teaching purpose (under their approved IACUC protocol) does not require additional IACUC oversight – The collaborating lab can be at either UCI or another institution. To assess potential availability of animal tissues from other UCI animal labs, contact ULAR Veterinarians
- If euthanasia/procedures are performed on another lab’s animal specifically for you while it is alive, then this activity requires IACUC oversight.
Animal parts obtained from meat-packing facilities do not require IACUC review and approval, because the animal has been killed prior to collection of the discarded tissues. A business may act as a broker or go-between, procuring such tissues from slaughterhouses or other sources – However, care must be taken when using such services to ensure that live animals are not euthanized specifically to fill your animal tissue order. Animals that are obtained alive and then euthanized for tissue harvest require IACUC oversight to ensure humane treatment.
If you're purchasing "on demand" fresh tissue from a vendor, then you must verify that the company is compliant with federal regulations - which may include any of the following:
- Vendor confirms that the source(s) of their tissues/products come from dead animals that were already killed for other purposes (i.e., NOT killed to fulfill your animal tissue order).
- Vendor has its own animal care program or IACUC oversight and they follow AVMA-approved euthanasia methods, if they are euthanizing live animals to fulfill your animal tissue order.
- Vendor is USDA-registered and/or holds a valid PHS Assurance.
If you're unable to verify a vendor's compliance with federal regulations, then you cannot purchase from that vendor.
Alternatively, you can submit a UCI-IACUC protocol for review and approval, to conduct tissue collection from live animals as a "sac and harvest" animal use protocol at UCI.
View a list of vendors (secure login required)
Production of Custom Antibodies
When an agent (e.g., antigen intended to elicit an immune response) is injected into a living animal (e.g., mouse, rabbit, or guinea pig) and blood or other fluids are later collected from which antibodies are derived. Often such antibodies are purchased from a contract laboratory; in these cases, the contract laboratory typically has its own animal care program/IACUC oversight, so UCI-IACUC oversight is not usually required.
However, if you wish to use a contract laboratory that does NOT have its own IACUC oversight/animal care program, then UCI-IACUC oversight is required and you need to complete the Custom Antibody Production Agreement form and submit to IACUC@uci.edu for review.
For more information, see IACUC Policy for Antibody Production in Live Animals.
Some antibodies, known commonly as “off the shelf” antibodies, are produced using manufacturing methods that do not involve living animals. Purchase of these agents from medical supply vendors does not require IACUC oversight.
Field or wildlife studies
Studies that involve unobtrusive observation of animals in their natural habitats do not require IACUC oversight. If the study has a potential to cause harm or materially alter the behavior of the animals, then IACUC oversight is required.
Invertebrates are animals without a backbone or bony skeleton. Examples include insects, worms, mollusks, etc. The use of invertebrates in research or teaching activities does not require IACUC oversight.
Other uses of animals
- Use of privately-owned pets as models in a live art class – no IACUC oversight required.
- Study of the interaction between people and registered therapy dogs – no IACUC oversight required. However, if data is collected directly from the dogs (e.g., blood samples from the dogs to test stress hormones), then IACUC oversight is required.
- Observational study of insect behavior in the presence or absence of birds – no IACUC oversight is required for the insect work (insects are not vertebrate animals) but any manipulations or data collection conducted on the birds would require IACUC oversight.