|TH E N I H C A T A L Y S T||JU L Y A U G U S T 2008|
Many key questions in the biomedical sciences can be addressed only through studies involving a complete functional organism, making animal research an indispensable tool. Researchers conducting such studies are obligated to ensure the highest standards of animal care and use.
Not only do ethical and legal accountabilities demand proper and respectful handling of laboratory animals, but reliable results can be obtained only under adequate and standardized care, minimizing all potential distress. Thus, it is not surprising that there is a vast amount of information on standards and regulations concerning animal research. A new document now available on the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom) website is designed to make NIH animal use policy more accessible to fellows who may be new either to NIH or to animal research. It provides both the basics of legal/technical issues and links to more in-depth information.
The document was drafted by Jan Gutermuth, the FelCom liaison to the Animal Research Advisory Committee (ARAC), which develops NIH animal care and use program policy. ARAC is administered by the Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU), which oversees the use of animals in the NIH intramural program and ensures compliance with federal laws and regulations, often setting national and international standards.
As a visiting fellow in the laboratory of Stephen Katz (Dermatology Branch, NCI) investigating mechanisms of immune tolerance in a mouse model of autoimmunity, Gutermuth recognized the need for easily accessible information on animal use and policies, especially for international fellows, who might find that the policies and regulations in the United States vary from those in their home countries. The language is unambiguous for researchers whose first language is not English. Gutermuth worked in collaboration with OACU Director Jim Taylor and OIR Deputy Director Richard Wyatt.
As the FelCom liaison on ARAC, Gutermuth serves as both a source of information and a voice for fellows with questions or concerns about animal research policies. Contact him at email@example.com.
"Essential Knowledge on Animal Research in the NIH Intramural Research Program" is available at http://felcom.od.nih.gov/materials/Essentials%20of%20animal%20research%20at%20the%20NIH.pdf.
In-depth information on animal care and use policies and regulations can be found at http://oacu.od.nih.gov.
SPECIAL NOTE: AAALAC, the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, made an accreditation site visit from June 9 to 13. AAALAC's report was glowing, noting that we run a spectacular program. Congratulations to the Office of Animal Care and Use and all NIHers who take animal care and wellbeing seriously.