Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee

  • The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) is a standing committee of Duke University & Duke University Medical Center.


  • The composition and responsibilities if the IACUC are mandated by the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 98-198).


  • By law, the IACUC must be composed of, at a minimum, three members: a Chairperson, a veterinarian with training or experience in laboratory animal medicine, and a non-affiliated member.  A Committee of this size would not be able to accomplish the numerous regulatory tasks required of the Committee.  To share the responsibility as well as the work load of the Committee, the Duke IACUC is composed of 29 voting members, plus alternates, for each of the following roles:


  • Scientists
  • Veterinarians
  • Community representatives
  • Statisticians
  • Research technicians


  • The IACUC utilizes consultants, when required, for specific protocol review or committee advice.  The consultant may offer opinions and advice, but may not vote on any application or use.


  • According to the 9th Code of Federal Regulations, it is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer of the Institution (in our case, the Chancellor) to appoint all members of the IACUC, and the Institutional Official (IO).  IACUC minutes and reports are reviewed by the Institutional Official of our program.


  • As a decision making body, the IACUC ensures that all animals in experimental research are used appropriately and are treated in accordance with the highest standards of humane care.  The IACUC has empowered the Office of Animal Welfare Assurance (OAWA) to investigate and review concerns with animal use activities, provide training for researchers and their staff, assist researchers with meeting the expectations of the IACUC, and facilitate interactions with regulatory agencies.


  • The IACUC represents society's concerns regarding the welfare of animal subjects used... and is expected to be the conscience for the institute on animal welfare concerns.


  • The IACUC is responsible for keeping abreast of changes in animal use legislation and guidelines and recommending modifications to the institution's program to ensure that research and the animal use program fully comply with the letter and the spirit of the law.


  • The IACUC is not a scientific review group, per se.  All projects receive mission related and scientifically sound reviews prior to reaching the IACUC.  However, humane treatment and scientific methodology are closely related and often inseparable concepts.  Therefore, the Committee may discuss and review science as it related specifically to animal use.


  • While the IACUC has numerous responsibilities in terms of program oversight, the duty most identified with the IACUC is protocol review.  The IACUC conducts a thorough and comprehensive review of all new proposals and amendments to existing protocols.


  • All continuing protocols also receive annual review to ensure that no significant deviations from established and approved procedures have occurred.  All principal investigators are required to complete an annual review report as part of this process.


  • When reviewing protocols, the IACUC ensures that:


  • all procedures involving animals will avoid or minimize pain and distress to the animal (s);
  • the principal investigator has considered alternatives to procedures that cause more than momentary pain or distress to the animals;
  • the principal investigator has provided written assurance that the protocol proposed does not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments;
  • appropriate anesthetics and analgesics are used when necessary;
  • personnel are properly trained to  perform the proposed procedures;
  • activities that involve surgery provide for appropriate pre-operative and post-operative care and that aseptic practices are followed;
  • that methods of euthanasia are consistent with methods set forth by the "American Veterinary Medical Association's Panel on Euthanasia.


  • The IACUC is required to inspect, at least once every six months, the research institute's animal facilities, including animal study areas, which are defines as any area in which animal work is performed.  Not only is the physical facility inspected, such as animal housing and facility maintenance, but the entire animal program is reviewed.  This involves reviewing animal health records, observing surgery, reviewing post-operative records, and reviewing the biosafety, chemical safety, radiation safety, and occupational health program, as well as all USDA inspections, AAALAC program reviews and assessments, deficiencies, if noted, and responses to those deficiencies in order to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.


  • The IACUC makes a written report of its findings, which must be signed by a majority of committee members and must include any minority views, if these views are expressed during the program inspection.  This report is submitted to the IO for review.  The results of the IACUC inspections are transmitted to individual Care Faculty Managers with recommendations or suggestions for improvement or corrections of noted, and time frames for response.  Problem areas not satisfactory resolved by this communication mechanism are subsequently transmitted (with recommendations) to the IO for ultimate resolution.


  • The IACUC reviews and investigates, if necessary, any concerns involving the care and use of animals at the research institute resulting from complaints or reports of noncompliance.  The IACUC has the authority to suspend an activity that previously approved if it determines that the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the description provided by the investigator in his/her protocol.


  • To send comments to the IACUC, you can use IACUC@duke.edu