The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Certain kinds of questions can be answered only through animal studies
The University of Miami, like every other major research institution developing treatments and therapies to combat disease, conducts biomedical research involving animals. Health research institutions depend upon animal-based research because they need to understand complex biology and the impacts of new treatments in living systems that mirror human physiology, development, and disease.
Animal studies remain critical in developing treatments for injury and disease in both animals and humans
Animal studies have played essential roles in the development of therapies to combat AIDS, several forms of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, paralysis and other medical conditions. While numerous advances have led to new or improved clinical treatments and prevention strategies, there are many diseases where few, if any therapeutic options exist. These include leukemia, breast and pancreatic cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
A fundamental necessity for continued progress
As health researchers, we believe it is our moral imperative to use the proven and effective research process – which involves animals – to continue to make innovative discoveries that positively impact human lives.
We believe in the “Three R” principles of animal welfare – reduction, refinement, and replacement
We understand the tremendous responsibility that comes with animal-based research. We conduct studies with animals only when necessary and provide them with outstanding care. Substantial effort is made to ensure that all procedures are continually refined to minimize pain and distress to the animals. In addition, the number of experimental animals is reduced to the minimum necessary. The personnel who provide our animal care consider it a privilege to work with animals, and demonstrate this commitment daily by treating them with the utmost care and respect.
Internal and external oversight of our animal studies
The University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee reviews and approves all research protocols and procedures that the animals experience. As additional safeguards to the animals, our research program is inspected annually by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and triennially by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), the highest standard of accreditation for US animal research programs. Oversight of our animal research includes not just routine reviews and reports, but also unannounced visits to research and training units, aiming to ensure that animals are treated humanely and with the utmost care. If there is ever a lapse in any process, it is self-reported, and appropriate and timely corrective actions are taken. Actions taken for any non-compliance can be severe, and range from official warnings to fines being imposed on the institution, with the possibility of suspension of work or the revocation of research licenses
We comply with federal laws and regulations including the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations overseen by the USDA. We also closely follow the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Our country’s comprehensive animal care oversight systems require regular communications between research institutions and federal regulators to ensure that animals are treated well and adjustments take place as needed. This system works rapidly and effectively to ensure that animals are well cared for.
Animal studies at the University of Miami have already led to innovative therapies
Animal-based research at the University of Miami continues to contribute to advances in the treatment of serious human medical conditions—examples include:
- Researchers at UM’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis performed animal studies that led to the demonstration that “therapeutic hypothermia”, a slight lowering of the temperature in areas of the central nervous system, can lessen the severity of deficits suffered by people with neurodegenerative conditions like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury
- Animal studies performed by researchers at UM’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute have led to a novel gene therapy that is highly promising in initial human studies to treat Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy—a previously untreatable disease that causes progressive and devastating loss of vision
- Researchers at UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology performed animal studies that led to development of a unique monoclonal antibody that is now part of a novel drug used successfully to treat cancer
The University of Miami ensures that all faculty and staff comply with federal and state guidelines concerning the use of animals in research and teaching through the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC). Working in conjunction with the Division of Veterinary Resources (DVR), the IACUC is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) and meets monthly to review protocols. IACUC members include participants from all University campuses and the general community.
Reporting Animal Welfare Concerns
Concerns regarding the care and use of laboratory animals at the University of Miami can be anonymously reported to:
- Cane Watch
- IACUC Office: (305) 243-2311
- IACUC Chair: (305) 243-2032
- Office of Research / Institutional Official: (305) 243-9635
- DVR: (305) 243-2310
The IACUC’s Mission
- Review and approve animal use protocols;
- Ensure that investigators and staff are properly trained;
- Ensure that research and teaching activities conform to best practices as defined by The Guide For the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals;
- Inspect animal care and use facilities to ensure compliance with federal regulations and policies;
- Review the animal care and use program semiannually; and
- Investigate concerns raised by faculty and staff regarding the humane care and use of lab animals.
To contact the IACUC, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (305) 243-2311.