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.
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The Invaluable Role of Animal Research
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine highlights the invaluable role of animal research.
It has been awarded jointly to William Kaelin of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Peter Ratcliffe of the University of Oxford and the Francis Crick Institute, and Gregg Semenza of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”
Medical Advances and Animal Research
Throughout the world people enjoy a better quality of life because of advances made possible through medical research, and the development of new medicines and treatments. A small but vital part of that work involves the use of animals.
Medical Advances and Animal Research
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 and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Additionally, the College Station IACUC meets the requirements for committee membership described in the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (Ag Guide). 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 including the Health Research Extension Act and US Government Principles, the Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the Ag Guide and the AVMA Guidelines for Euthanasia.
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.
- AAALAC International is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals through voluntary accreditation. The triennial on-site assessment allows representatives of AAALAC to evaluate in-person how well the animal care and use program meets or exceeds the standards established in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide) and the Ag Guide, as applicable to the species and activities performed. Participation in AAALAC’s accreditation program by Texas A&M indicates an institutional commitment to animal welfare by achieving and maintaining high standards for animal care and use. 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 the US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, NIH, National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration-funded research, which includes 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 with nonhuman primates, dogs, cats, or marine mammals. Additionally, this veterinarian will perform site visits to any institution conducting DOD-sponsored research using animals where research procedures, program, or facility conditions necessitate.
- Texas A&M University’s IACUC conducts semi-annual inspections to ensure that all animal housing and satellite facilities, as well as locations where surgery is performed, are managed and maintained according to the polices of the US Public Health Service, US Department of Agriculture, and Texas A&M, and meet the standards of the Animal Welfare Regulations, Guide and/or Ag Guide, as applicable.
Any project sponsor (generally a pharmaceutical company) may conduct its own inspections at any time.
CMP Laboratory Animal Care and Use Training Program
The 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.