Animals in Research — Reviewing Proposed Research

When a researcher decides to initiate a study involving animals, s/he must first secure funding from federal, private or internal funding sources. Applicants submit proposals that include sections where the researcher must detail how the animals would be used.

For example, federal proposals require applicants to provide detailed information explaining why it’s necessary to use an animal model and describing how exactly animals will be used throughout every stage of the study. Each agency has its own requirements. Here is the information that researchers are required to explain in funding proposals to the National Institutes of Health, which invested more than $73 million in medical research at UTMB’s School of Medicine during FY15.

  • A description of the animals to be used including amount used, species, strain, ages and gender
  • Explicit justification for animal use and choice of species and amount
  • An explanation of why the proposed research goals cannot be met using an alternative model that does not involve vertebrate animals
  • A complete description of proposed procedures
  • A description of veterinary care that includes veterinary staff availability, their schedule of animal monitoring, additional monitoring relevant to proposed procedures and indicators for veterinary intervention to alleviate discomfort, distress, or pain
  • A detailed description of the procedures used to minimize discomfort, distress, pain, and injury
  • A description, rationale for and justification of methods of euthanasia

Institutions that contain research laboratories also financially support research. UTMB invested more than $86 million in support of research from 2012 to 2016. To receive and maintain institutional funding, researchers must abide by the rules set forth by the groups on campus that provide oversight of research involving laboratory animals. For more information refer to UTMB’s Campus Oversight webpage.

When a research grant is awarded, the funds cannot be released to the awardee’s institution until the funding sponsor is notified that the institution’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or IACUC, has reviewed and approved the way that research animals will be incorporated into the proposed study.

Reviewing a proposal