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Multi-level Approach to Required Training of Personnel Using Animals in Teaching and Research at Virginia Tech

In synthesizing the training requirements set forth elsewhere in this website, it is obvious that a "one size fits all" approach to training would be inappropriate and impractical for such a large and diverse institution as Virginia Tech. For example, a researcher who uses fish does not need to know how to administer anesthesia to a cow, nor does the cattle researcher need to know how to humanely euthanize a fish.

To meet individual researchers' needs, while still providing compliance assurance in the area of training, a multi-level approach to training can and should be used. All researchers and staff using animals in teaching or research, and students using animals in research must receive basic uniform compliance training. This includes IACUC and Occupational Health and Safety related trainings.

Subsets of the faculty, staff and student population should also receive species-specific training in humane care and use for the species (single or multiple) which they will be using.

A third level for an even smaller subset of the faculty, staff and student population would involve more sophisticated training in anesthesia and surgical techniques if that would be required in their teaching labs or research projects.

IT IS IMPERATIVE that all animal handlers and animal users feel comfortable, confident and appropriately trained in the animal procedures and techniques that they are about to perform.

For additional assistance or training resources, please contact the IACUC Office by phone at 1-2166 or email at

Level I - Basic IACUC Core Compliance Assurance Training [all users]

  • overview of federal laws, regulations, and guidelines
  • Virginia Tech policies and procedures
  • overview of the Virginia Tech animal care and use program
  • overview of Occupational Health and Safety programs at Virginia Tech specific to individuals who handle, care for, and use laboratory animals
  • mechanisms for reporting concerns about inappropriate handling, care, or use of animals in teaching and research at Virginia Tech
  • ethical issues and societal concerns about the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing
  • how to conduct a computerized literature search for non-animal alternatives
  • Virginia Tech forms and record keeping requirements

Level II - Species Specific Training [users of particular species]

  • biology and care of the species to be used
  • basic research techniques for the species to be used (handling, restraint, injection techniques, blood collection techniques, euthanasia)
  • observation/health monitoring
  • provision of adequate veterinary care
  • proper use of anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers (as applicable to the study protocol)
  • assessment of alternate endpoints for studies involving "death as an endpoint"
  • acceptable euthanasia methods for the species to be used
  • necropsy techniques and gross anatomy

Level III - Specialized Procedures [taught as needed by mentor professors or veterinary staff for each protocol]

  • proper pre-procedural and post-procedural (usually postoperative) care of animals
  • aseptic surgical methods and procedures
  • proper use of anesthetics and postoperative analgesics
  • special techniques - catheterization, vascular cutdowns, abdominal or thoracic surgical procedures
  • assessing pain/distress