Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

IACUC

What is an IACUC?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee is mandated by federal law to oversee the University's animal care and use programs, facilities, and procedures and to ensure the appropriate care, use and humane treatment of animals being used for research, testing, and education. The IACUC is also responsible for reviewing all animal use protocols, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, inspecting animal facilities and laboratories, and overseeing training and educational programs. The IACUC serves as a resource for faculty, investigators, technicians, students, and staff, providing guidance in planning and conducting all animal use procedures in accordance with the highest scientific, humane, and ethical principles. The members of the University of Virginia IACUC are appointed by the Institutional Official, the Vice President for Research.

Who is on the IACUC?

Federal regulations stipulate that the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee be composed of certain individuals fulfilling specific roles. At a minimum, the IACUC must have a:

  1. Veterinarian: The veterinarian must have direct or delegated program responsibility and have training or experience in laboratory animal medicine or in the species being used.
  2. Scientist: At least one practicing scientist experienced in research involving animals.
  3. Non-Scientist: One member whose primary concerns are in a non-scientific area (e.g. minister, ethicist, lawyer).
  4. Non-Affiliated Member: One member not affiliated in any way with the institution and not a member of the immediate family of a person who is affiliated with the institution. This person is intended to represent general community interests.

A minimum of 5 members is required by PHS Policy and members must be appointed by the Institutional Official. At the University of Virginia the Institutional Official (IO) is the Vice President for Research.

Computer Access

How do I get a password to log in?

Contact ITS to obtain your UVA computing ID and NetBadge authentication: 434.924.4357

Where do I get help for computer problems?

For computer technical assistance, please call your departmental computer support first. If you have a general question about how to use the ACUC protocol system, contact the ACUC Office at 434.924.0405. If you believe the computer program itself has an error, the programmer may be contacted at vck9u@virginia.edu.

Protocols

When do I need an animal use protocol?

Anyone who proposes to use vertebrate animals for research, testing, or teaching must submit a protocol to the ACUC for approval. The protocol must be approved BEFORE animals can be ordered or used.

Where do I get help with protocols?

General information is available on the ACUC website or you can contact the ACUC Office (acuc@virginia.edu or 434.924.0405).  ACUC Office Hours are offered twice a month on the first and third Fridays of the month from 1:30-3:30pm in Pinn Hall room 5315.  This a perfect place to bring your questions. You can also make an appointment with Silvia LaRue, Director of the ACUC Office (sil5t@virgina.edu or 434.243.9429) or with either of the two veterinarians, Dr. Kumari Andarawewa (ka7w@virginia.edu or 434.924.2090) or Dr. Sanford Feldman(shf2b@virginia.edu or 434.924.5058) who will pre-review your protocol and explain what the regulations require in each section of the protocol. A Protocol Writing Workshop is generally offered twice a year. 

Who is permitted to have a protocol?

Only appointed UVA faculty can be the PI on a protocol. See ACUC Policy on Principal Investigator Eligibility.  

Can I save my work and come back to the protocol later?

Yes. Scroll to the bottom of the page and and click on the "Save Data and Continue" button before you exit. You may come back at any time and continue to work on the protocol. When JavaScript is enabled in your web browser, your data will be auto saved at least every 15 minutes, but it is best to “Save and Continue” your work during each session before you stop.  

Can I put more than one species on my protocol?

Yes. If the work performed on each species is closely related, you may put more than one species on your protocol. The work with each species must be described in a separate Species Procedure section.

Can I let someone else complete my animal use protocols?

Principal Investigators are allowed to designate responsible individuals (PI Associates) to write and submit animal use protocols on their behalf provided the PI has authorized the work and is aware of the content. The PI should be aware that the ultimate responsibility remains his/hers regardless of who writes and/or submits the protocol.

Do I need to complete all sections of the animal use protocol?

Yes. You need to answer each question in order to submit the animal use protocol. If you do not answer every question, the system will not allow you to submit the protocol to the ACUC. If a section is incomplete, you will see red (REQUIRED) fields advising you of items you still need to complete. A minimum protocol consists of a completed Protocol Summary section, one Species Procedure, and one Animal Handler. (A protocol may have more than one Species Procedure and more than one Animal Handler.)

What if I can’t answer a question on the form?

First, check out the hyperlink or HELP button for the question. If you still need help, please call the ACUC Office at 434.924.0405.

Can I see a list of my Animal Use Protocols?

Yes. Go to https://researchcompliance.web.virginia.edu/acuc/ and log in with your NetBadge ID and password. Click on PI/PI Associate Access. You will see a list of the PI Associates (those who can modify and submit protocols for the PI) and below that a table of your protocols. Protocols are color coded to indicate status. Green = Approved. Pink = Submitted (not yet approved). White = Not Submitted.

What do I do if I accidentally submit my protocol?

Once you submit a protocol, you no longer have access to it. If you find you have accidentally submitted your protocol, email the ACUC Office at acuc@virginia.edu or call  434.924.0405.

Can I submit a protocol for "expedited review"?

No. "Expedited review" is a term used only by IRBs for human subject protocols. PHS Policy and the Animal Welfare Act recognize only two forms of protocol review: Full Committee Review and Designated Member Review. Full Committee Review requires a convened meeting of a quorum of the IACUC members. Designated Member Review is utilized at UVA primarily for minor modifications to protocols. When a minor modification is submitted, all Committee members are notified of the proposed changes to the protocol and have the opportunity to call for Full Committee Review. If no member calls for Full Committee Review, the chair designates one (or more) qualified Committee member(s) to review the protocol. The designated member may approve the protocol, require modifications in the protocol to secure approval, or request Full Committee Review. For guidance on Minor Modifications, please see ACUC Policy on Review of Minor Modifications of Protocols. 

How can I decide which Pain and Distress Category my experiments are in?

The USDA regulations require the University to report each year on the number of animals used and the pain category of each animal. For this reason, we must ask you to report prospectively on your animal use and category. A brief explanation of the pain and distress categories is provided in the protocol together with common examples and a link to the Guidelines for Allocating Experimental Procedures to Specific USDA Categories. If you have questions, please call the ACUC Office for more help.

Do I need to submit an animal use protocol if I use crayfish, worms, snails, shrimp, fruit flies, or microorganisms in my research or teaching activities?

No. You only need to submit a protocol if you are working with a vertebrate animal. PHS Policy defines an animal as “any live, vertebrate animal used or intended for use in research, research training, experimentation, or biological testing, or for related purposes”. The Animal Welfare Act Regulations (AWAR) define an animal as “any live or dead dog, cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or any other warm-blooded animal, which is being used or is intended for use for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes, or as a pet. This term excludes birds, and rats and mice bred for use in research...” The ACUC ensures that the University’s animal care and use program is in compliance with the AWAR and PHS Policy.

Who should be listed on a protocol?

Everyone with direct animal contact should be listed. New personnel should be added to a protocol prior to their use of laboratory animals. Each person must complete training and occupational health requirements.

May I obtain blood or tissue from another investigator or other source without having to submit my own protocol?

Yes and No. If you obtain blood or tissue from an investigator who has already used an animal for his/her own experiment, you do not need a protocol. If, however, the investigator uses his/her animal for the purpose of providing you with blood or tissue, then you would need to submit a protocol. In order to reduce the overall number of animals used, the ACUC encourages investigators to share unused animal tissue, if possible. Investigators who obtain tissue from slaughterhouses must notify the ACUC Office in writing what tissue(s) they are collecting and the date of collection so that a record can be maintained. Similarly, no protocol is needed for tissue obtained from a slaughterhouse if the animal was slaughtered as part of their routine practice, but if the animal was slaughtered specifically for your purposes, a protocol would be required. If you have any questions about the applicability of this regulation, please call the ACUC Office at 434.924.0405.

How do I...?

How do I get animal facility access?

Contact Krystin Biedler (kah3ry@virginia.edu or 434-243-9390) in the Center for Comparative Medicine.

How do I obtain fiscal information for my grant? I need animal costs and per diems. 

Contact Donna Santos (dsp4q@virginia.edu or 434.924.8064) in the Center for Comparative Medicine. Plan ahead – please allow adequate time for preparation of your fiscal documents!

How do I order animals?

First, you must be listed on an approved protocol. Animals may be ordered online from Comparative Medicine. Call 434.924.2741 for further information.

How do I renew my protocol?

Go to the protocol web site https://researchcompliance.web.virginia.edu/acuc/. Log in with your Netbadge ID and password. After you log in you will have a menu of options. You may use your previously approved protocol as a template for preparing the renewing protocol. Choose First or Second Annual Renewal or Third Year Renewal, as appropriate, for protocol submission type. (See information below about “how long does a protocol last”.)

Who do I call if I have a question about animal anesthetics, analgesia, surgery, monitoring, or training in procedures?

Please call the ACUC Office at 434.924.0405. We will be glad to answer your question or direct you to the appropriate office.

Who can I call with a question that is not on these FAQs?

Please call the ACUC Office at 434.924.0405. We will be glad to answer your question or direct you to the appropriate office.

Who should I contact if my project involves hazardous biological agents or radioactive material?

For information on biohazardous biological agents, see the Institutional Biosafety Committee website for further details. For information about using Chemical Hazards or radioisotopes at UVA, see the respective EHS websites.

Do I need to participate in the Occupational Health Program and annual medical surveillance?

Yes. At least once per year all users must complete a Health Assessment.  Health Assessments must be completed online or "face-to-face" with a Health Care Professional from WorkMed or Student Health. Please bring Occupational Health Assessment forms with you to your appointment.

How will I know when I need my annual occupational health assessment?

You will receive a courtesy email reminder from the ACUC Office several weeks before you are due.

When?

How long does my protocol approval last?

It depends. All protocols require ACUC review every three years. Protocols with DoD or VA funding or those with USDA regulated species require annual review while protocols having funding from the NIH, UVA departmental or industryand describe the use of laboratory rodents, birds, fish or frogs are reviewed every three years. If your animal use protocol contains BOTH USDA and non-USDA regulated species, or is funded by BOTH NIH and DoD or VA, the protocol will require annual review. Separate protocols can be written, i.e., USDA regulated in one, and non-USDA regulated in another or NIH funding in one and DoD or VA funding in another.  

Do not write your protocol to match the duration of your grant. Every third year you will be required to provide a Progress Report which contains 3 parts: Summary, Direct Outcomes and Research Plans on what was accomplished or learned from the animals for which you had been approved and the research plans going forward.

How will I know the disposition of my protocol?

You will receive preliminary notification by email. When approved, a letter of approval will be mailed to you together with a copy of your approved protocol and all ACUC policies related to your research.

How long does it take to review my protocol before I get approval?

It depends. You should allow at least 3 weeks, and more, if the Committee determines that your protocol requires modification before it can be approved. The sooner you submit the required modifications, the sooner they can be reviewed and approved.

What happens to the protocol after it is submitted?

All protocols receive administrative review by the ACUC Office staff to ensure that all information is complete. The Office verifies whether requirements have been met for the use of radioisotopes, chemical hazards and biohazardous materials and if training and occupational health requirements have been completed. Protocols are reviewed for Conflict of Interest (COI) and whether they need additional review by curriculum committees (educational protocols) or Hospital Epidemiology (patient care area protocols). 

One IACUC member is appointed as the "Primary Reviewer" for a particular protocol. If the Primary Reviewer has questions not previously addressed in pre-review, veterinary or administrative review, he or she may contact the PI directly for clarification. At the monthly meeting of the IACUC, the Primary Reviewer presents the protocol, and his/her recommendations, for discussion. The IACUC will vote to either: Approve, Require Modifications, or Table the protocol. If modifications are needed, the PI is notified of the required revisions and the Primary Reviewer serves as his liaison to the Committee. When the revisions are completed as directed by the Committee, the protocol can be approved. Tabled protocols require significant work to be approvable and must be reviewed again by the full Committee.

Will I be notified of the expiration and renewal dates of my animal use protocol?

It is the responsibility of each Principal Investigator to track the expiration dates of each protocol. You will receive a courtesy notice from the ACUC Office notifying you of the renewal date for your protocol and the date by which it must be submitted. If you do not respond by the deadline for renewal, your protocol will expire and you cannot purchase or use animals. Federal regulations prohibit administrative extension of protocol approval.

What are the meeting dates and submission deadlines for the IACUC?

Find the meetings schedule and submission deadlines on the ACUC website.

When should I report changes or modifications to my protocol?

Every change or modification to your protocol must be approved by the ACUC before you begin. Your grant funding agency will also need to be notified of any substantive changes to your protocol.

If I received word that my protocol was approved, when can I start my protocol?

If your approval letter states full approval, you may begin work immediately.

Can I order animals before I have an approved protocol?

No.

Where?

Where can I find information about Training?

Visit the Office of Animal Welfare website.

Where can I find information on the Occupational Health Program?

The IACUC website has information on the occupational health program.

Where can I find information on the Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM)?

Visit the CCM website