PI Guidelines About Volunteers in Animal Labs

The use of live animals in research is a controversial subject that elicits strong responses from its opponents. Acts of vandalism and intimidation have occurred here at UCI as well as on other UC campuses, and many animal-rights organizations have openly publicized their willingness to infiltrate laboratories and disrupt research.

Individuals who are not directly connected to UCI, including local high school students, often contact campus researchers requesting to volunteer in a laboratory, and it may be difficult to determine their motivation.

Therefore, while opening laboratories to visitors and volunteer research personnel is commendable and consistent with the University's research and teaching missions, it is important for principal investigators and their labs to carefully vet and closely monitor all volunteers who have no formal affiliation with the university.

To ensure the safety and integrity of your laboratory, please consider the following guidelines and recommendations:

  • Talk to the prospective volunteer. Find out what their motives are for volunteering in your lab: Are they interested in pursuing a career in research? Pay attention to their body language in addition to their words.
  • Ask the volunteer for their opinions regarding research involving animals, and whether they would find it difficult or disturbing to work in a lab that includes such activities.
  • Ask the volunteer if they plan to write a report, paper, abstract or make a presentation of any kind that will rely on the data resulting from the research in which they will participate. To whom will it be presented?
  • If the volunteer is under the age of 18, speak to their parents to ensure that they understand what their child will be doing in the lab and secure their written consent (see Volunteer Registration form).
  • Require each volunteer to complete a Volunteer Registration form. This form has been developed especially for use by laboratories that conduct research involving live animals.
  • List each volunteer as Personnel on the laboratory's IACUC protocol(s) even if the volunteer's participation will limited to observation and they will not be physically handling the animals. There may be a time when "observing" turns into "hands-on helping"; having the volunteer listed on the protocol ahead of time prevents such an opportunity from turning into non-compliance.
Safety First

Volunteer Requirements

ALL volunteers that will have any direct contact with live animals in the lab must:

  • Have a sponsored or Guest UCINetID;
  • Complete all training and orientation requirements for working with live animals in laboratories;
  • Enroll in the Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program;
  • Be listed as authorized personnel on all approved IACUC protocols.

To add a volunteer (non-UCI affiliate) to your protocol:

  • Obtain a sponsored UCINetID for the volunteer
    • Sponsored UCINetID requires the authorization of a faculty member or management-level staff and are valid for a limited amount of time.
  • Ensure that the volunteer has completed all required training.
  • Confirm that the volunteer has enrolled in the Laboratory Animal Occupational Health Program (LAOHP).
  • Complete the Volunteer Registration Form
  • Submit a modification request form to the IACUC Office – include a signed copy of the Volunteer Registration Form.