Animal Care and Use

Charge to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Last Reviewed/Revised: November 2023

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to assess and oversee the institution’s animal care and use program, facilities, and policies to assure that all animals are provided optimal care and treatment while undergoing valid research studies. The IACUC is responsible for assuring that all scientists, research technicians, animal technicians, and other personnel involved in animal care, treatment, and use are qualified to perform their duties in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and all applicable federal laws and regulations, particularly the Animal Welfare Act. The Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) has been designated, by the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs, to serve as the Institutional Official (IO) and endorse the independence and authority of the IACUC. The IO has the authority to allocate organizational resources to ensure the program’s overall effectiveness, based on the recommendations and advice received from the IACUC, the Attending Veterinarian, and the IACUC Office, and is responsible for ensuring the alignment of program goals of quality animal care and use with the institution’s mission.


Membership terms are for an initial three years. Shorter periods may be deemed appropriate under some conditions. Members may be asked to serve additional terms. The IO appoints the members and chair of the IACUC.

The IACUC is composed of:

  • At least one Veterinarian and one alternate
  • One lay person not affiliated with WashU
  • One non-scientific member
  • Minimum of 5 scientists familiar with the use of animals in research, but no more than three of the scientific members may be from the same administrative unit
  • A Vice Chair to officiate when the IACUC Chair is not available or due to a conflict of interest

No member may participate in the IACUC review or approval of a protocol in which the member has a conflict of interest (e.g. personally involved in the activity). A member with a conflict of interest may provide information requested by the IACUC, but may not participate in the discussion or vote. The conflicted member will be excused during the discussion and vote and his/her attendance will not be counted towards a quorum for the vote on that protocol.

IACUC Responsibilities

The IACUC’s responsibilities include at the minimum:

1. Protocol Review

The IACUC conducts a thorough and comprehensive review of all new proposals and amendments to existing protocols and ongoing annual reviews. The elements of these reviews include, at a minimum:

  • Rationale and purpose of the proposed use of animals
  • Clear and concise sequential description of the procedures involving the use of animals that is understood by all members of the committee
  • Availability or appropriateness of the use of less invasive procedures, other species, isolated organ preparation, cell or tissue culture, or computer simulation
  • Justification of the species and number of animals proposed; whenever possible, the number of animals and experimental group sizes should be statistically justified (e.g., provision of a power analysis
  • Unnecessary duplication of experiments
  • Nonstandard housing and husbandry requirements
  • Impact of the proposed procedures on the animals’ well-being
  • Appropriate sedation, analgesia, and anesthesia
  • Conduct of surgical procedures, including multiple operative procedures
  • Post-procedural care and observation (e.g., inclusion of post-treatment or postsurgical animal assessment forms)
  • Description and rationale for anticipated or selected endpoints
  • Criteria and process for timely intervention, removal of animals from a study, or euthanasia if painful or stressful outcomes are anticipated
  • Method of euthanasia or disposition of animals, including planning for care of long-lived species after study completion
  • Adequacy of training and experience of personnel in the procedures used, and roles and responsibilities of the personnel involved
  • Use of hazardous materials and provision of a safe working environment

2. Program Reviews and Facility Inspections

The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the United States Department of Agriculture require the IACUC to review the institution’s program for humane care and use of animals and inspect all of the institution’s animal facilities at least once every 6 months in accordance with the IACUC’s Semiannual Program Review Procedures and Semiannual Facility Inspection Procedures.

3. Receiving and Responding to Animal Welfare Concerns

The IACUC is responsible for receiving and responding to all concerns about animal welfare resulting from complaints or reports of non-compliance. The IACUC has the authority to suspend an activity if it determines the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the approved protocol, reference Reporting Unusual or Unexpected Adverse Events and Reporting Animal Welfare Concerns (Whistleblower Policy).

4. Education and Training

  • The IACUC is responsible for assuring that all scientists, research technicians, animal technicians, and other personnel involved in animal care, treatment, and use are appropriate trained in accordance with the IACUC Training and Training Documentation Policy.
  • The IACUC is responsible for ensuring that IACUC members are provided with training opportunities to understand their work and role. Such training includes formal orientation to introduce new members to the institution’s Program; relevant legislation, regulations, guidelines, and policies; animal facilities and laboratories where animal use occurs; and the processes of animal protocol and program review.

5. Recordkeeping

The IACUC is responsible for documenting and maintaining all records of the IACUC’s activities, deliberations, votes, and decisions.