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Statement on Animal Use in Education and Research

American University adheres to the principle that scientific knowledge developed through animal research helps to improve the understanding of human behavior and pathology. The use of animal models provides a way to gain insight into the etiology and possible treatment of the human condition, alleviating pain and suffering, improving human and animal health and saving countless lives. Although the scope of education and research projects involving animal use is small compared with other research universities, AU places a high priority on reducing the number of animals used for instruction and research to situations only when necessary for scientific advancement and only when educational and research objectives cannot be achieved by alternative means. Further, the university insists on humane and ethical treatment of animals used to further these purposes.

AU recognizes its legal and ethical responsibilities to make certain that animals are not used needlessly and are spared all unnecessary pain and distress. To this end, AU adheres to all federal and local laws (including, but not limited to the Animal Welfare Act of 1986, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals) as well as institutional guidelines governing animal research. Applicable regulations are available at the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. AU is committed to these guidelines, laws and regulations and has been since the early 1970's when its animal research program was initiated.

The university's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews, supervises, and coordinates every project proposed to include the use of animals. This committee includes scientists and other scholars, as well as members of the public to encourage representation of diverse viewpoints. The IACUC has the responsibility to approve, to require modification of or to prohibit a project's use of vertebrate animals. Well established procedures, similar to those used to monitor human subject research, are used for reviewing and monitoring animal use in education and research conducted under university auspices. All project and research protocols are submitted to the IACUC and are reviewed and scrutinized. AU's consulting veterinarian ensures that humane use guidelines are followed and that animals receive professional veterinary medical care. Daily health monitoring and monthly inspections (announced and unannounced) by AU's consulting veterinarian maintain adherence to standards. Twice a year, the Animal Care and Use Program and facilities at American University are evaluated and reports are submitted as required by NIH.

AU continues to fulfill its obligation to ensure that professional and technical personnel who work with animals are qualified through training and experience to perform these tasks humanely and in a scientifically appropriate manner. AU provides training to accomplish these purposes. All employees have an obligation to report anything they believe to be a failure to follow or a deviation from AU's laboratory animal care standards. All employees who work with animals are instructed how to make a report and may do so anonymously.

In sum, the scope of education and research using animals is judicious. Only when necessary for legitimate academic work that advances scientific knowledge and human well-being and only when alternative methods are not suitable, the use of animals is scrupulously guided by humane practices that are well established.

Faculty and students interested in using animals in instruction or research at American University should contact for information on procedures and regulations.