Virginia Tech™home

2. Training Requirements

VT-Specific IACUC Training

A multi-level approach will be adopted to provide a variety of training programs for all faculty, staff (teaching, research and/or husbandry), residents, interns and graduate students (M.S., Ph.D.) at Virginia Tech who utilize animals as part of their daily responsibilities, including teaching or research. This training will occur on three levels:

Level I - Basic IACUC Core Compliance Assurance Training (all users)

All researchers and staff using animals in teaching or research and students using animals in research must receive basic uniform compliance training that MUST be completed before animal use may begin (effective 8/1/08).

Note: Occupational Health and Safety Training (including Zoonoses Training) is also mandatory and is available online. It is required of all animal users/handlers listed above, plus non-animal users with significant animal exposure (usually airborne) prior to the start of any animal use.

This training has three components:

  1. Core IACUC training (accomplished online at the AALAS Learning Library website, see below)
  2. VT-Specific IACUC training (usually accomplished online via this course)
  3. Forms/Records training (general topic addressed in this course; species-specific information usually communicated via Animal Care Facilities personnel or the Office of Animal Resources/Office of University Attending Veterinarian)

These training elements will provide:

  • An overview of federal laws, regulations, and guidelines
  • An overview of Virginia Tech policies and procedures
  • An overview of the Virginia Tech animal care and use program
  • An introduction to the Occupational Health and Safety programs at Virginia Tech which are specific to individuals who handle, care for, and use laboratory animals
  • A mechanism for reporting concerns about inappropriate handling, care, or use of animals in teaching and research at Virginia Tech
  • A discussion about ethical issues and societal concerns about the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing
  • Virginia Tech forms and record keeping requirements
  • Provision of adequate veterinary care

The Core IACUC training is available online through the AALAS Learning Library. Instructions for enrolling in this training module and use of the module are available on the main IACUC Training page.

In addition, the Virginia Tech IACUC Orientation and Training hardcopy training manual contains the instructions to enroll in the AALAS Learning Library. Those instructions are located in Appendix 1 and the text in the Core IACUC training course, entitled Working With the IACUC: Non-VA Version, is provided in Appendix 2. Contact the IACUC office for a copy of this manual, if desired. It is not required as all training may be completed online.

The Virginia Tech-Specific IACUC training will be provided online via this tutorial but is occasionally offered live by the University Attending Veterinarian. The slides used in this talk have been included in Appendix 3 of the Virginia Tech IACUC Orientation and Training hardcopy training manual, the text of which was utilized in creating this tutorial.

Animal Record/Forms training is available through the supervisor of your animal care facility, the Attending Veterinarian's office or your Principal Investigator. It is your responsibility to ensure that records are accurately maintained and appropriate to the species. Please seek out this training before any animal use in research or teaching is begun.

Level II - Species Specific Training (users of particular species)

Species-specific training will be provided to researchers and staff on the humane care and use for the species (single or multiple) that they will be using in their teaching, research, or husbandry. This training will include:

  • 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
  • Proper use of anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers (as applicable to the study protocol)
  • Assessment of alternate endpoints for studies involving USDA Pain Category E protocols
  • Acceptable euthanasia methods for the species to be used
  • Necropsy techniques and gross anatomy

Level III - Specialized Procedures (taught as needed by mentor professor and/or training staff for each protocol or animal care procedure)

A third level of training will involve more sophisticated training in anesthesia and surgical techniques if these are required in their teaching labs or research projects. This training will include:

  • 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

Legislative Requirements for Training of Personnel Using Animals in Teaching and Research Training is compulsory for all faculty, staff, and graduate students handling animals during teaching or research as required by a number of legislative acts. These include:

I. Animal Welfare Act Regulations (AWAR) Requirements for Training:

The USDA administers a Federal Law known as the Animal Welfare Act, PL 89-544 and its amendments. Groups that conduct research with animals are subject to regulation by this act. The Animal Welfare Act regulates the use of all warm-blooded vertebrates in research except birds, rats and mice bred exclusively for research. The regulations deal with housing, handling, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, transportation, separation of species and veterinary care for these animals. This act also requires that animal facilities record and total their yearly animal inventory and use and submit this (on an appropriate form) to the USDA.

In order to ensure compliance with these regulations, the USDA periodically sends an inspector to the research facility to conduct an unannounced site visit. The inspector evaluates the animals, facility and animal records of the institution. Any violations are listed on an inspection form and forwarded to the institutional officer for correction. The USDA has the authority to stop research at an institution that does not treat animals in accordance with the law.

Animal Welfare Act Regulations (AWAR) Training Requirements:
Sec. 2.32 (Personnel qualifications) of the AWAR states that:

  1. It shall be the responsibility of the research facility to ensure that all scientists, research technicians, animal technicians, and other personnel involved in animal care, treatment, and use are qualified to perform their duties. This responsibility shall be fulfilled in part through the provision of training and instruction to those personnel.
  2. Training and instruction shall be made available, and the qualifications of personnel reviewed, with sufficient frequency to fulfill the research facility's responsibilities under this section and Sec. 2.31.
  3. Training and instruction of personnel must include guidance in at least the following areas:
    1. Humane methods of animal maintenance and experimentation, including:
      1. The basic needs of each species of animal
      2. Proper handling and care for the various species of animals used by the facility
      3. Proper pre-procedural and post-procedural care of animals, and
      4. Aseptic surgical methods and procedures.
    2. The concept, availability, and use of research or testing methods that limit the use of animals or minimize animal distress
    3. Proper use of anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers for any species of animals
    4. Methods whereby deficiencies in animal care and treatment are reported, including deficiencies in animal care and treatment reported by any employee of the facility. No facility employee, Committee member, or laboratory personnel shall be discriminated against or be subject to any reprisal for reporting violations of any regulation or standards under the Act.
    5. Utilization of services (e.g., National Agricultural Library, National Library of Medicine) available to provide information:
      1. On appropriate methods of animal care and use
      2. On alternatives to the use of live animals in research
      3. That could prevent unintended and unnecessary duplication of research involving animals, and
      4. Regarding the intent and requirements of the Act.

II. Public Health Service (PHS) Policy Requirements for Training

PHS Policy requires the IACUC, when reviewing protocols, to determine that personnel conducting procedures involving animals are appropriately qualified and trained. Institutions are required to include in their NIH/Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare Assurance a "Synopsis of [the] training or instruction in the humane practice of animal care and use, as well as training or instruction in research or testing methods that minimize the number of animals required to obtain a valid results and minimize animal distress, offered a scientist, in all technicians, and other personnel involved in animal care, treatment, or use." PHS policy does not specify any type of species-specific training, but it does require that Assured institutions use the "Guide" as a basis for their animal care and use program.

III. Training Recommendations in the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals"

The "Guide" recommends that individuals who care for or use animals should be properly trained, and that the institution has a responsibility for providing either formal or on-the-job training for personnel. Training of animal care personnel is necessary to implement an effective animal care and use program and to foster humane animal care and use. Investigators and other personnel who perform surgery, administer anesthesia, or perform other manipulations must be properly trained to accomplish these tasks in a humane and scientifically acceptable manner.