Animal Subjects / IACUC

The University of Massachusetts Amherst supports the use of animals for research as an ethical and scientific necessity for the advancement of human and animal well-being, and knowledge and understanding of living systems.

The UMass Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is charged with overseeing the use of vertebrate animals in teaching and research. The IACUC reviews proposed projects using live vertebrate animals, inspects animal care facilities and study areas, submits reports to the Institutional Official (Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement), and investigates concerns. IACUC activities are guided by the U.S. Animal Welfare Act and U.S. Public Health Service Policy.

All projects involving use of live vertebrate animals for research, teaching, training, wildlife studies, experimentation, agricultural studies, biological testing, preparation of custom antibodies, and related purposes MUST have IACUC approval regardless of funding source or lack of funding, before the project starts. This applies to all work that is conducted by UMass employees, UMass students, or anyone with an affiliation with the university; and/or involves use of animals housed in a university facility; and/or is funded through an award to, or processed through, the university.

It is a PI’s responsibility to ensure animal use described in a funded proposal is covered by an approved animal use protocol and continues to be covered for the duration of the award. There is no limit to the number of grants that can be listed on a protocol. A current IACUC approval is required before animals can be purchased or housed. Please note that IACUC approval for proposed animal use is not a guarantee that space for the animals in a UMass animal care facility is always immediately available. Contact Animal Care Services to make the necessary arrangements.

Information that must be included in an animal use protocol reviewed by IACUC:

Essential information includes the following:

  • an overview of the animal use and an explanation of the reasons for and benefits from the use of animals in the proposed research
  • assurance that the proposed work does not duplicate previous research and that no alternative to the use of live animals is available
  • a list of species, strains, or types of animals to be used; the source of the animals; the numbers needed
  • justifications for the species and numbers
  • description of specialized housing or care for the animals needed for the studies
  • detailed technical description of how the animals will be used, including any medications or materials administered to them 
  • anesthetics and analgesics that will be use
  • explanations if analgesics cannot be used (for a procedure during or after which the animals would normally be given analgesics) because of interference with the data collected during the study 
  • a clear description of the endpoints of the studies
  • descriptions of the euthanasia procedures in accordance with standards published by the American Veterinary Medical Association 
  • identification of personnel involved in the work and descriptions of their training and qualifications to use the animals

UMass Amherst is registered as a research facility (#14-R-0036) with the United States Department of Agriculture and has an approved Animal Welfare Assurance (#A3551-01) on file with the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Guidance on Clarification on the Roles of NIH Scientific Review Groups (SRG) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) in Review of Vertebrate Animal Research has been published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on September 1, 2010, NOT-OD-10-128 which includes the following:

Institutional Responsibilities

  • “An institution that elects to proceed according to “just-in-time” procedures for IACUC approval bears the responsibility for supporting the decisions of the IACUC”.
  • “Under no circumstances may an IACUC be pressured to approve a protocol or be overruled on its decision to withhold approval”.
  • “The PHS Policy requires that modifications required by the IACUC be submitted to the NIH with the verification of IACUC approval, and it is the responsibility of institutions to communicate any IACUC-imposed changes to NIH staff”.

Investigator Responsibilities

  • “It is incumbent upon investigators to be totally forthcoming and timely in conveying to the IACUC any modifications related to project scope and animal usage that may result from the NIH review and award processes”.
  • “Should an institution find that one of its investigators disregards his/her responsibilities, the institution may, for example, determine that all animal protocols from that investigator be subject to IACUC approval prior to allowing that investigator to submit an application”.

Concerns and complaints regarding animal care and use at UMass Amherst can be submitted through the IACUC office preferably submitted in writing, and signed by the person filing the complaint. To report an anonymous concern, please call 413-545-6256. Anonymously-reported concerns and complaints are also investigated. Persons filing a complaint are protected from reprisals by MA “Whistle-blower” statutes.