The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) ensures that all vertebrate animals involved in teaching or research at Washington State University receive ethical and humane care and treatment.
What the IACUC does
Oversight to protect animals
The IACUC reviews all WSU research and teaching protocols that involve live vertebrate animals. These studies must have the IACUC’s approval before they can begin.
The committee has the authority to amend, disapprove, suspend, and terminate studies that fail to meet rigorous standards set forth by University policies and federal regulations.
It also has the authority 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
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.
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 so that humane animal treatment is uncompromised. If you are a researcher, even minor violations may 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
- On the WSU MyResearch database, complete the Animal Subject Approval Form (ASAF) and submit it when complete.
The ASAF details the protocol you will follow to care for any WSU-owned animal. The IACUC reviews this document for compliance with federal regulations and university policies. Be advised: The ASAF is very complex and comprehensive. If you need help completing the form, email the Animal Welfare Program or visit the Forms page.
- Once received by the Animal Welfare Program, the protocol will be pre-reviewed. Corrections are to be made prior to sending the protocol to reviewers.
Allow ample time for review. Depending upon the complexity of your protocol, the average turn-around time is approximately 30 days, but can be longer. Protocols are sent to all committee members for initial assessment. They are assigned to selected IACUC members for review (Designated Member Review, aka DMR).
- 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 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.
- Once all reviewers have recorded their approvals, then the approval process can proceed.
*At all times, the IACUC has the power to categorically reject a proposed study due to various reasons. IACUC acts independently in this regard.
Continuing review of approved activities
Once a protocol has been approved, it is renewed annually.
If you are an investigator, you must submit an annual renewal form if the protocol is approved in the old PDF system. If in the online form system, the PI will be notified to access MyResearch and follow the “Annual Renewal” button that appears next to the approved form. After two annual renewals, the entire protocol and all supporting documents must be rereviewed by the IACUC as a 3-year resubmission.
To make any changes to an approved IACUC protocol, an amendment must be submitted. IACUC must approve that amendment before any changes can be implemented.
For full details on the IACUC review process, consult the WSU Handbook for IACUC (pdf).
Who is on the committee?
The IACUC has 20-30 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 appoints IACUC members on the recommendation of the Vice President for Research.
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.
IACUC members include the following:
- Chair who is a full or associate professor at WSU
- Practicing scientist with experience in research involving animals
- Doctor of veterinary medicine
- Community member not affiliated with the university
- Expert in a non-scientific area
- Faculty or staff member 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.