The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) ensures that all vertebrate animals involved in teaching or research under the direction of Washington State University receive ethical and humane care and treatment. Washington State University is an AAALAC accredited institution that operates under the USDA Registration 91-R-0002 and PHS Assurance D16-00303 (A3485-01).
What the IACUC does
Oversight to protect animals
The IACUC reviews all WSU research and teaching activities involving live vertebrate animals. These studies must have the IACUC’s approval before they can begin.
The committee has the authority to approve, require changes in order to secure approval, or withhold approval of proposed studies. The IACUC also has the authority to suspend, active studies that fail to meet rigorous standards set forth by University policies and federal regulations.
It also has the responsibility to do the following:
- Inspect animal housing facilities
- Evaluate the University’s animal care and use program and make recommendations
- Prepare and submit reports of the IACUC’s evaluations to University officials, regulatory bodies, and accreditation agencies
- Review and if warranted, investigate animal welfare concerns.
In compliance with federal regulations, the IACUC provides training to all individuals working with live vertebrate animals at WSU. Training is required for researchers as well as animal care and husbandry personnel.
The IACUC supplies informational resources to investigators, animal managers, and students to guide them in their research and teaching activities involving animals. The Animal Welfare Program (AWP) Office provides support staff to the IACUC and is a resource for all faculty, staff and students working with animals in their research and teaching endeavors. Please visit the Contacts Page for information on how to reach the AWP staff.
Why the IACUC strictly monitors WSU animals
Washington State University takes the responsibility of animal care very seriously. Working in concert with the Office of the Campus Veterinarian and federal regulatory agencies, the IACUC strictly enforces the law and regulations to ensure that humane animal treatment is uncompromised. If you are a researcher, protocol deviations and noncompliance can affect continued support from your funding agency.
IACUC oversight helps researchers conduct safe and ethically sound investigations. It ensures that animals receive the best possible care.
When you need IACUC approval
You must seek IACUC approval if:
- You are doing research, teaching, or breeding that involves live vertebrate animals, and
- You are working under the auspices of Washington State University
If your project meets both of these criteria, it must undergo IACUC review regardless of your funding source or species studied.
How To Seek IACUC Review
Submitting a Protocol for Review
- On the WSU MyResearch database , complete the Animal Subject Approval Form (ASAF) and submit it when complete.
The ASAF describes in detail the use of animals in your research and/or teaching activities. The IACUC reviews this document for compliance with federal regulations and university policies. Be advised: The ASAF is very complex and comprehensive in the information required. If you need help completing the form, email the Animal Welfare Program or visit the Forms page. Instructions may also be accessed here.
- All ASAFs must be submitted via the online system for review and approval, but PDF or Word Document variants of the ASAF can be provided for planning purposes upon request. Please email the Animal Welfare Program for a copy.
- Once received by the Animal Welfare Program, the protocol will be pre-reviewed by the Animal Welfare Program Staff.
Pre-review suggestions are intended to help ensure the protocol is complete prior to submitting it for IACUC review. Please view WSU IACUC Policy #2 for additional information. It is recommended to submit protocols early in the week to allow adequate time for pre-review.
- After pre-review is complete, a protocol will be sent out to the IACUC to be reviewed by either a sub-committee of IACUC members via Designated Member Review (DMR) or by Full Committee Review (FCR) at a convened meeting. Allow ample time for review. The average turn-around time is approximately 30 days, however it can be longer depending on the complexity of your protocol and if FCR is requested.
- Designated Member Review (DMR): Protocols are sent to all committee members for initial assessment and opportunity to request FCR. If there are no requests for FCR, a sub-committee of IACUC members are assigned to conduct the official review. Submitted ASAFs are sent out to the committee twice per week, typically on Tuesdays and Fridays. The DMR team can approve the protocol or request modifications/clarifications in order to secure approval.
- Any questions that reviewers may have will be sent to the Principal Investigator and all Co-investigators on the protocol.
The PI or Co-I are responsible for responding to the questions posed by the committee and revising the form. Once complete, the PI or Co-I submit the revised form, and any responses or questions can be emailed to the Animal Welfare Program.
- Full Committee Review (FCR): At any time during the review process, a protocol or amendment may be requested by any IACUC member to be discussed at a convened IACUC committee meeting. A protocol may be requested for FCR for any number of reasons, but the most common are to review exceptions to The Guide or IACUC Policies. Examples of procedures that may trigger full committee review include but are not limited to food and water deprivation, disruption in circadian rhythm, multiple major survival surgeries, extensions to cage/pen cleaning intervals, or use of enclosures that do not meet the size requirements.
- If you are submitting a protocol with an exception to The Guide, it is highly recommended to submit it for IACUC review early in the month so that it can be discussed at that month’s convened meeting. Monthly meetings are typically held the last Wednesday of the Month with the exception of November and December which are held the week prior to the university scheduled holidays. The meeting dates for the year can be found here.
- Once all reviewers have recorded their approvals, then the approval process may proceed.
* The IACUC has the authority to withhold approval of proposed activities or significant changes. A decision to withhold approval must occur at a convened IACUC meeting. Investigators will be notified of the IACUC’s decision in writing and provided an opportunity to address any IACUC concerns.
Continuing Review of Approved Activities
- All approved protocols are required to be resubmitted for full IACUC review every 3 years. Please refer to WSU IACUC Policy #2. for more details. Instructions on how to resubmit a protocol for a three-year review can be found here.
- Making changes to an approved IACUC protocol: To make any changes to an approved IACUC protocol, an amendment must be submitted as per WSU IACUC Policy 24. Instructions on how to submit an amendment can be found here. The IACUC must approve all significant changes before they can be implemented.
Who is on the committee?
The IACUC has 25 members with a range of expertise as scientists and specialists. It also includes members of the public who have no affiliation with WSU. The WSU President has appointed the Vice President for Research as the Institutional Official for the Animal Care and Use program. In this role the VP Research has the responsibility to appoint the IACUC members.
The committee draws upon decades of expertise and a diverse portfolio of knowledge to render impartial, carefully considered decisions to protect the welfare of animals.
The IACUC committee includes the following members:
- A chair who is a full or associate professor at WSU
- Practicing scientists with experience in research involving animals
- Doctors of veterinary medicine
- Community members not affiliated with the university
- Non-Scientist members whose expertise is in a non-scientific area (e.g. lawyer, librarian, ethicist)
- Faculty or staff members with expertise in the care and involvement of animals in instruction or research
The WSU animal care program and facilities have earned AAALAC accreditation. This accreditation demonstrates WSU’s commitment to responsible animal care and use, while supporting advancement of science for human and animal welfare. In addition to complying with local, state, and federal laws that regulate animal research, WSU voluntarily participates in AAALAC’s program.