Medical Research and Education using Animal Models

At Texas A&M University, our investigators involve animals in their research only when necessary. Investigators are first required to search for viable alternatives. Furthermore, we are committed to the care and welfare of the animals that aid in the advancement of scientific and medical research.

Such research offers countless opportunities to expand knowledge, improve human and animal health, ease pain and suffering, and save lives. Animal models allow researchers to study complex biological systems with a higher level of success that other models have yet to approach. Our research programs must comply fully with a complex network of laws, regulations, and guidelines established by our state and federal governments, and our investigators also must adhere to strict standards to maintain accreditation of our programs for animal care and use.

With this in mind, Texas A&M advocates and applies the principles known as the Three R’s:

  •  Reduce the number of animals to the minimum required for a successful study.
  •  Refine all experiments to minimize distress to research animals.
  •  Replace animals with less sentient or non-animal models whenever possible.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Research Compliance’s Animal Welfare Office supports Texas A&M’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), through which all faculty, staff, and students using animals, regardless of location or funding, must obtain approval before activities begin. Texas A&M’s IACUC meets all federal requirements, as defined in the Animal Welfare Act, the Public Health Service Policy, and the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The IACUC is responsible for the oversight, evaluation, and assurance of compliance for the institution’s animal care and use program and A&M System components as outlined in the Public Health Service Policy, the Animal Welfare Act, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Committee decisions and guidelines are regularly posted to the IACUC site.

 

Animal Facility Inspections

Animal research programs are operated in careful compliance with oversight from federal agencies—often with multiple agencies exerting overlapping authority on a single study—and a mass of legislation and regulation.

  • The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act that regulates animal research. USDA veterinarians visit at least once each year to review in person all aspects of our animal research programs.
  • The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) is a private voluntary organization that conducts on-site inspections to evaluate how well an animal care and use program meets or exceeds criteria of the “Guide.” AAALAC’s accreditation program indicates programmatic excellence and includes a thorough in-person evaluation every three years. Texas A&M is an AAALAC accredited institution.
  • The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare monitors compliance with NIH policies on the treatment of animals in NIH-funded research, which include site visits as well as required review and approval of the university’s commitment to proper record-keeping, committee oversight, and adherence to the federal government’s principles on care and use of vertebrate animals.
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) requires a DoD veterinarian who is trained or experienced in laboratory animal science and medicine to conduct an initial site visit to evaluate animal care and use programs at contracted facilities conducting DoD-sponsored research.
  • Texas A&M University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) conducts semi-annual inspections to ensure that all animal housing facilities are managed and maintained according to the polices of the US Public Health Service, US Department of Agriculture, and Texas A&M.

Any project sponsor (generally a pharmaceutical company) may conduct its own inspections at any time.

 

CMP Laboratory Animal Care and Use Training Program

Lab ratThe Comparative Medicine Program (CMP) Animal Care and Use Training Program at Texas A&M provides training, instruction, and information about laboratory animal care and use to teaching and research personnel. The program is available to Texas A&M’s faculty, instructors, scientists, technicians, graduate students, undergraduate students, and other personnel involved in animal care and use.