Policy Steward:  Associate Vice President for Research, Director of the Office for Research Protections


  • Purpose
  • Policy
  • Applicability
  • Exclusions
  • Definitions
  • Submission Procedure
  • Biohazardous Agents and Radioisotopes in Animals
  • Further Information
  • Cross References


    This policy provides the following assurances:

    1. Vertebrate animals involved in any research, testing or teaching procedures receive humane care and treatment.
    2. Animal research is conducted in a well-controlled research environment.
    3. Concerns regarding the care and use of vertebrate animals at the University are addressed in a professional and responsible manner.
    4. Research involving the use of live animals is performed in an ethical manner, designed to minimize pain and distress, and comply with applicable federal and state regulations.

    This policy enacts certain necessary provisions of the University's "Assurance of Compliance with Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals," an agreement with the Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which provides eligibility for receipt by University investigators of funding from various federal agencies.


    Approval by the University's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is required prior to the actual involvement of a vertebrate animal in any University research, testing or teaching procedures. Any such project involving an external sponsor must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC before funding is accepted.

    IACUC records are subject to regular unannounced inspections by representatives of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA inspection reports describe any institutional deficiencies or apparent IACUC record violations, and are accessible to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. For this reason, all IACUC submissions must be carefully prepared and detailed; a written memo must document all submission supplements or clarifications. The Office for Research Protections (ORP) in The 330 Building, Suite 205 (865-1775), is responsible for coordinating IACUC reviews and approvals.

    Concerns regarding the proper care and use of vertebrate animals in a University project are to be reported to the ORP, investigated by the IACUC and resolved in a timely manner.


    This policy is applicable to all research, testing or teaching activities involving vertebrate animals (live or dead*) or animal parts except as excluded below, conducted under the auspices of the University and applies to all University locations, excluding the College of Medicine at Hershey which maintains a separate animal welfare assurance with OLAW. University projects involving the use of vertebrate animals at other institutions must receive IACUC approvals from both the cooperating institution and Penn State University . The College of Medicine at Hershey Medical Center will serve as the cooperating institution during a collaborative effort between the College of Medicine at Hershey Medical Center and any other University location.

    * The IACUC reviews the use of dead animals to verify that they originate from a reputable source and are disposed of appropriately.


    The following materials are excluded from this policy and are exempt from IACUC review:

    1. Animal tissues or parts collected from animals euthanized under an approved IACUC protocol.

    2. Animal tissues or parts collected from USDA inspected slaughter houses.

    3. Established cell lines, as well as biological fluids and foods available as standard inventory from a conventional commercial supplier


    Vertebrate Animal --
    Penn State University defines an animal as being any non-human organism possessing a well-developed nervous system as characterized by the presence of a dorsal notochord protected by a vertebral column. This policy applies to non-human vertebrate animals, live or dead.

    IACUC--the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee --
    This committee is appointed to review all proposed research, testing or teaching activities involving vertebrate animals to be conducted under the auspices of the University. Projects are reviewed for compliance with the principals of humane animal care and use as set forth by policies and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Public Health Service. The membership of this committee provides for a balanced review of all submitted activities by inclusion of veterinarians, faculty, staff, and local community representatives.


    Submission forms can be obtained from the ORP WEB site. Completed forms should be returned to the ORP, The 330 Building, Suite 205, University Park, PA 16802. Copies of submissions received by ORP will be circulated to IACUC committee members.

    The IACUC has final authority to disapprove or suspend indefinitely an activity involving the use of vertebrate animals.

    Appeals will be heard by the IACUC; however, by federal law the IACUC has final authority and disapprovals cannot be overruled by any administrator at the University.


    Any IACUC submission involving a biohazardous agent or radioisotope also will require prior approval by the Institutional Biosafety Committee or the University Isotopes Committee, respectively. The investigator is to include, in the IACUC submission, a safety protocol describing procedures for work with biohazardous materials used with animals. The University Biosafety Officer, in consultation with animal care personnel, will aid investigators in designing appropriate safety protocols for the handling and disposal of animals contaminated with biohazardous materials. The University Health Physicist will advise investigators in the development of safety protocols involving the use of radioisotopes.

    Approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee on March 22, 2004


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Associate Vice President for Research, Director of the Office for Research Protections.


    Other Policies should also be referenced, especially:

    SY20 - Hazardous Waste Disposal, and

    SY24 - Use of Biohazardous Materials in Research and Instruction.

    Effective Date: June 8, 2015
    Date Approved: June 4, 2015
    Date Published: June 8, 2015

    Most recent changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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