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UI takes steps to ensure humane use of animals in research
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa over the past two years has
continued efforts to improve the quality of its animal care program and
to ensure the humane treatment of animals used in research, UI Vice President
for Research David Skorton said Monday, March 3.
Speaking at an open forum on the use of animals in research, Skorton
also said that UI researchers over the past two years have used fewer animals
in nearly all categories except mice. Those trends mirror both national
and international trends in the use of animals in research, he said.
According to Skorton, these are the initiatives that have been undertaken
* A revision of the UI Animal Care and Use Review Form. The form requires
more detailed information from faculty and scientists to document that
they have fully investigated animal use alternatives in research or teaching.
* Full accreditation of the UI's animal use program by the Association
for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International
(AAALAC International). "We think this accreditation process provides
Iowans and others with objective evidence of the high quality of our veterinary
care program," Skorton said.
* Development of a home page on the World Wide Web for the UI Animal
Care Unit, including educational information on the proper care and handling
of animals, information on federal regulations and UI policy on the use
of animals in research and teaching; alternative methods used in animal
research or teaching, and organizations that provide funding for those
The revised Animal Care and Use Review Form requires researchers to
consider a number of alternatives, such as a reduction in the number of
animals used; the use of a lower mammalian species; use of a non-mammalian
or invertebrate species; or the use of a non-animal system, such as a cell
or tissue culture, computer model or mathematical model.
"We are also placing greater emphasis on the possibility of sharing
animals in order to reduce the total number of animals necessary for research
programs," Skorton said.
The UI Animal Care Unit web site, in addition to information on animal
care, federal regulations and UI policies, also features an "Animal
Alternative Funding List" that provides a description of funding sources
for projects designed to replace animals with non-animal models or to refine
animal use. The UI Office of Sponsored Programs is continually searching
for organizations that provide such funding, and when new opportunities
are found, they are added to the list maintained at the web site.
"As we find new sources of alternate funding, we are making that
information available to the members of our scientific community as well
as the animal activists in our community," Skorton noted.
AAALAC International is a voluntary accreditation organization that
seeks to enhance the quality of research, teaching and testing by promoting
humane, responsible animal care and use. Participating organizations receive
independent assessments of their animal care and use programs. Those that
meet or exceed applicable standards are awarded AAALAC International accreditation.
Many private biomedical organizations, such as the American Heart Association
and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, strongly recommend that grantees be
supported by animal programs with AAALAC International accreditation.
About 90 percent of the top 100 recipients of research grants from the
National Institutes of Health are accredited by AAALAC International.
Skorton also provided the latest statistics on the use of animals in
research, noting that the use of dogs, cats, rabbits and rats has declined
over the past two years. The use of mice has increased at the UI, just
as it has nationally and in many other countries where university-based
biomedical research is conducted.