All animal research activities must conform to the statutes of the Animal Welfare Act/Regulations, and the requirements of the Public Health Service and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
As outlined in PHS Policy IV.B.1-8, IACUCs must:
- Review and approve animal use protocols, including significant changes to previously approved protocols;
- Monitor the animal care and use program, including conducting semiannual program review and facility inspections, and reporting evaluations to the Institutional Official (IO);
- Review concerns involving the care and use of animals;
- Make recommendations to the IO on the animal program, facilities, or personnel trainining;
- Be authorized to suspend previously approved animal use protocols in instances of noncompliance;
- Evaluate compliance with institutional policies;
- Report annually and notify regulatory bodies of suspensions and instances of serious noncompliance with PHS policy; and
- Ensure that personnel working with animals are appropriately trained and qualified.
The Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) requires PHS-supported institutions maintain an "Animal Welfare Assurance" to carry out any activities involving live, vertebrate animals. This Assurance sets forth the responsibilities and procedures regarding the care and use of animals, and is applicable to all biomedical research, research training, experimentation, biological testing, and related activities involving live, vertebrate animals conducted at Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Harvard School of Dental Medicine (collectively the Harvard Longwood Campus), or at another institution as a consequence of the sub-granting or subcontracting of a PHS-conducted or -supported activity by the university. This document demonstrates institutional compliance with PHS Policy, and ensures an program for animal care and use is in place and an IACUC monitors the program.
Animal Welfare Act
The AWA was passed by the United States Congress in 1966 and amended in 1970, 1976, 1985, and 1990. It defines the minimum standard of care and treatment that must be provided for all covered animals used in research. At this Institution, the goal is to achieve and maintain a maximum standard of care for all vertebrate research animals.
The Harvard Medical Area animal care and use program is accredited by the AAALAC International (previously known as the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care). The program evaluates organizations that use animals in research, teaching, or testing. Those that meet or exceed AAALAC standards are awarded accreditation. The accreditation process includes an extensive internal review conducted by the Institution applying for accreditation. During this review, the Institution creates a comprehensive document called a “Program Description” which describes all aspects of the animal care and use program (policies, animal housing and management, veterinary care, and facilities). The Program Description is then submitted to AAALAC. Evaluators review the Program Description and conduct their own comprehensive on-site assessment. The site visitors’ report is then reviewed by the entire Council on Accreditation and accreditation status is determined. After an institution earns accreditation, it must be re-evaluated every three years in order to maintain its accredited status.