Facility Inspections

The UCI IACUC conducts physical inspections of all areas where live animals are housed or used. These inspections occur every six months. The facility inspection process provides an opportunity for IACUC members to interact with the research community, follow up on issues that may have been discussed during protocol review and answer questions researchers might have about specific protocols.

Preparing for a Successful Facility Inspection

Know when the IACUC will be inspecting your facility:

Arrange for someone from the lab to be present during the time when the IACUC site visit team is scheduled to visit your lab areas. Ideally, this should be the Lead Researcher or lab manager – someone who is familiar with all research in the laboratory and can answer questions the site visitors may have during the visit.

Note:  Vivarium inspections do not require labs to be present for the site visit team unless specifically requested by the IACUC - Our office will reach out to you before the scheduled inspection date to coordinate a meetup time, if this is the case. Although, the site visit team will still welcome meeting with labs during vivarium inspections if you'd like to. Come say hi!

Be sure that all spaces where you work with live animals are clean, neat and orderly (this includes your lab areas and your animal housing/procedure rooms in the vivarium).

  • Empty animal cages should be removed from the lab and returned to the vivarium cage wash area as soon as possible after procedures are completed.
  • Benchtop areas where animal procedures are performed should be cleared of all clutter and debris. 1Reducing clutter is an important part of effective pest management. To allow for easy cleaning and decontamination of work surfaces and spaces, laboratory instruments/materials should be stored when not in use (e.g., in plastic containers, put away in cabinets or drawers, etc.). Use of tape on surfaces (e.g., wall, floor, ceiling, door) should also be minimized, as tape residue can hinder proper sanitation and/or potentially cause damage.
  • Make sure all labels and cage cards are completed and legible. This includes any special designation cards (e.g. biohazard, chemical hazards, food/water restriction, etc.). Cards should list the agents being administered, start/end dates, and contact details.
  • Minimize the use of materials with non-sanitizable, porous surfaces (e.g., cardboard boxes, Styrofoam, etc.) that come into contact with animals or are in animal use areas. When non-sanitizable materials are found in animal use areas by the IACUC site visitors or ULAR personnel, a determination will be made as to the need for repairs or replacement based on the use of the item or material and likelihood of contamination.  These determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis when considering the appropriateness of porous or otherwise non-sanitizable surfaces in animal facilities.

Maintain training records for all members of the laboratory staff, including any training done by other lab members for specific animal procedures that are performed under your approved protocols.  The IACUC has developed a Research Personnel Training Record template and strongly recommends that such records be maintained in the lab for all research staff that use live animals (this template can be customized for your lab).

Designate an area in the lab for rodent survival surgeries (if your lab performs rodent surgeries in the lab area). Animal welfare regulations and IACUC policy require that aseptic techniques must be used, sterile gloves must be worn, and instruments must be sterilized between procedures. Refer to the IACUC Surgery Policy and Guidelines for more information.

Animals that are held in the lab area (outside of ULAR-managed vivarium) for longer than 12 hours, the location must be listed in the approved IACUC protocol. If your location is not listed on your approved protocol, submit a Modification in RMS to request for the location to be added.

Make sure that all Controlled Substances are securely stored. Federal law requires that controlled substances be kept under double lock (e.g., in a locked box that is stored in a locked drawer or cabinet), accessible only to personnel authorized to use them. An updated, complete log of all use of controlled drugs must be kept within the laboratory as well. Refer to the Guidance for the Use of Controlled Substances in Animals for more information.

Make sure that all experimental and therapeutic agents, special/medicated feed, and all medical materials used in animals are within their printed expiration date. Refer to the IACUC Policy on the Use of Expired Drugs and Medical Materials for more information.

  • Most drugs and many medical materials (such as sutures and sterile gloves) have an expiration date printed on them by the manufacturer.
  • Expired drugs - such as anesthetics, sedatives, analgesics, and euthanasia solutions - CANNOT be used for any procedure with live animals, including terminal surgeries. They must either be 1) discarded or 2) appropriately labeled "Not for Use in Live Animals" and stored separately from "in date" materials.
  • Expired medical materials cannot be used in any survival procedures with live animals - these should either be discarded or labeled and stored separately from "in date" materials.
    • Certain expired medical materials such as saline solution, sutures, medical devices, etc., may be used in animals for acute, terminal procedures if their use does not adversely affect the animal’s well-being or compromise the validity of the study - Consult with campus veterinarians for guidance.

Facility Inspection Follow-up

The IACUC may follow up with your lab after the inspection by one of the following ways:

  • An Observation Note will be left in the areas used by your lab - If you receive such a note, please follow any instructions it may contain regarding additional follow-up required by the IACUC.
  • Email correspondence sent to the lab (Lead Researcher, emergency and admin contacts) requesting for additional information or clarification.  Please respond at your earliest convenience.


1Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories – 6th Edition (CDC, 2020) .