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Update: Memo from Vice Chancellor Lomax, January 7 2011

“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.” (Animal Welfare Act regulations)

What Qualifications are Necessary?

Necessary qualifications vary with one’s duties. PIs must have qualifications in conducting experimentation in their field of science, including literature search, experimental design, data collection and analysis. Animal care technicians’ qualifications relate to observations for health, proper housing, proper feeds and feeding methods, animal identification, etc. Persons performing animal experimental surgery must have experience and training in the surgical procedures they are to perform, as well as pre-surgical preparation of the animal subject, anesthesia maintenance and monitoring, and postoperative care. Basically, anyone performing any aspect of animal experimentation or husbandry must be sufficiently trained or experienced in the techniques they will perform to assure the resultant welfare of the animals.

Who decides if personnel are qualified?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is legally required by Animal Welfare Act regulations and Public Health Service policy to determine that personnel are qualified to properly (humanely) perform animal-related duties conducted within the committee’s purview. The Application for Vertebrate Animal Use (AVAU; protocol review form) requests, for this purpose, information about relevant experience and training of all personnel who will have responsibility for animal experimental manipulations. In addition, the IACUC requires that the PI provide assurances that they, and personnel under their supervision, will be appropriately trained and qualified. The IACUC reviews the overall institutional program for establishing qualifications of research personnel and animal care staff during its semiannual review of animal care programs.

How are necessary qualifications obtained and documented?

The program described below accomplishes a certain minimal component of the required qualification, by providing instruction in certain topics specified in the AWA regulations,* along with information specific to animal care and use at NC State. Completion of this program is required for all NC State personnel who work unsupervised with experimental animals, prior to performing such work and at least every three years thereafter. All such personnel should be listed on the protocol review form, where their training is described. Documented training and experience are generally not required for personnel who perform animal-related procedures only under the direct (i.e., physically present) supervision of a person who has such qualifications; the PIs commitment to provide training, which is made in signing the protocol review form, generally is sufficient documentation.

Note: In some instances, the IACUC may require, additional appropriate training sufficient to assure humane care and treatment of the animals. When describing personnel qualifications in your application for vertebrate animal use, it is appropriate to list any experimental animal training and experience. Over-qualification of personnel has never been an obstacle to protocol review. PIs are encouraged to maintain training records for each person under their supervision, such as the records required by the Good Laboratory Practice regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

Other options or opportunities for training include:

Please contact the IACUC Office Compliance Coordinators at iacuc_office@ncsu.edu to assist investigators and staff in identifying and accessing training opportunities within the NC State community as well as the AALAS Learning Library. There are many NC State faculty and staff who have skills in experimental animal procedures and are willing to pass them on to others.

The Laboratory Animal Resources division of the College of Veterinary Medicine has a collection of training materials available for viewing, and veterinarians and technicians who are capable of providing training in many general experimental animal procedures. Contact laroffice@ncsu.edu.

NC State Mandatory training

All Principal Investigators (as indicated on the AVAU) must  complete the NC State Web-based Animal Subjects Tutorial before an AVAU can be approved.  PIs must complete the tutorial at least every three years. All NC State personnel who work unsupervised with experimental animals must also complete the tutorial prior to performing animal manipulations and at least every three years thereafter. The process involves logging on to the NC State Tutorial System found as the primary link within the IACUC Training page and completing the Animal Subjects Tutorial. The construct of the tutorial is to provide relevant information and then to present the user with a multiple choice question to evaluate competence on the subject matter. The system will provide instant feedback/reinforcement for your response and if you should answer incorrectly, you will be given an immediate opportunity to review the material and respond to the question again. You can not fail the tutorial and you are encouraged to use it frequently to refresh your knowledge of animal care and use rules, regulations and policies.

Any comments or suggestions about this training should be directed to the IACUC office at iacuc_office@ncsu.edu or to the Director at 919.515.7507.

From the Animal Welfare Act regulations:

  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 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 used by the facility;
    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.