Policy Number: 314

Policy Suffix:

I. Policy

Rice University is committed to the humane care and use of animals in research, testing, education and training. This policy describes the shared responsibilities for fulfilling that commitment, with primary duties held by the Rice University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Attending Veterinarian (AV), Animal Resources Facility (ARF) staff, and research community.

All activities involving vertebrate animals must have advanced written approval from the Rice University IACUC. All research, testing, education, and training activities involving animals will be conducted in accordance with University Policy and the following federal regulations, guidelines and references (which will be referenced by letter throughout this policy):

(a) Animal Welfare Act - Public Law 89-544 as amended;
(b) Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use Laboratory Animals by Awardee Institutions (Revised 2015);
(c) Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Academies Press, 2011); and
(d) Assurance of Compliance with Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, Animal Welfare Assurance number A3010-01.

This policy guarantees that any reported concerns regarding the care and use of animals are investigated and addressed in a timely and professional manner. The University will not retaliate against or permit retaliation against a person who, in good faith, reports a suspected violation of any of the above-listed regulations or standards.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

Humane care and use of animals in research is the responsibility of all faculty, staff and students involved with research animals. All personnel involved with research animals must comply with University policies, and relevant federal, state, and local regulations.

A. Personnel with Animal Care Responsibilities

Individual staff, faculty, or researchers assigned to care for animals must ensure that animals: are checked daily; have appropriate species-specific housing and environmental conditions; are provided palatable feed and potable water; and have adequate health care as prescribed by the Attending Veterinarian (AV). This includes those individuals at IACUC-approved satellite or off campus facilities and their laboratory personnel.

Animal care personnel must: (1) allow the AV access to examine animals and animal medical records and (2) follow any care and treatment instructions provided by the AV. Animal care personnel are responsible for infection control within the facility, including proper sanitation of caging equipment, rooms, and corridors.

B. Attending Veterinarian (AV)

The AV is the authority designated to manage Rice University’s program of animal care, which includes unrestricted access to all animals, records, and resources impacting animal care. The AV provides regular and continuing instruction, counsel, and advice concerning the care and use of animals for research, testing, education, and training. Specific duties include the following:

  1. Serve as a member of the IACUC;
  2. Examine animals and animal medical records to evaluate health;
  3. Be available for emergencies and implement immediate action to protect animal welfare as needed;
  4. Advise investigators and instructors regarding the humane care and use of animals, with particular attention to reducing or eliminating pain and distress;
  5. Establish and maintain a training program for animal researchers to support proper care standards and procedural techniques;
  6. Consult with departments, schools, centers, and institutes on services available to support potential faculty hires and new or expanded research programs;
  7. Review and approve renovation and construction projects within established vivaria and animal housing or use areas prior to project start; and
  8. Give immediate notice to the IACUC Chair and Executive Vice President for Research for any deficiencies in the care or treatment of animals.

C. Principal Investigators, Students, and Laboratory Assistants/Staff

It is the responsibility of each faculty member under whose authority, responsibility, or cognizance animals are used for research, testing, education, or training to ensure that persons performing anesthesia, surgery, or other experimental manipulations are qualified through appropriate training or experience to accomplish these tasks in a humane and scientifically acceptable manner and in accordance with the approved animal protocol.

If animal research activities involving Rice faculty, staff, or students are conducted at domestic sites other than Rice University, then the IACUC must determine that appropriate animal care and use policies are being followed. The IACUC, at its discretion and depending on the nature of the animal and the roles of Rice faculty, staff, or students, shall choose one of the four (4) options to ensure appropriate oversight of the project including:

  1. Accept the host entity’s IACUC approval, as long as the host entity holds a current Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) Assurance;
  2. Conduct its own review of the protocol in the host institution’s protocol format (i.e., not require the Rice PI to write a second protocol for review);
  3. Conduct its own review of a Rice protocol; or
  4. Determine that no formal IACUC review is required.

With all four options, the Rice IACUC requires a formal agreement (e.g., a contract or Memorandum of Understanding) to clarify each entity’s roles and responsibilities for the project, including protocol review, approval, training, oversight, inspections, animal care services, and emergency care.

If animal research activities involving Rice faculty, staff, or students are conducted at sites outside of the U.S., the Rice University IACUC must review the protocol and certify that the activity meets Rice University standards for animal care and use, regardless of the acceptance of the foreign entity’s IACUC (or similar oversight body) review and approval. Foreign entities must complete the OLAW Foreign Assurance and follow International Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals.

D. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

An IACUC-approved protocol is required prior to the use of animals (live or dead in certain circumstances), and before implementing any changes to an existing IACUC-approved protocol. The IACUC’s oversight functions include:

  1. review and approve proposed vertebrate animal use through protocol reviews and proposed changes to animal use;
  2. regular inspection of facilities and animal use areas;
  3. regular review of the Animal Care Program;
  4. ongoing assessment of animal care and use; and
  5. establishment of a mechanism for receipt and review of concerns involving the care and use of animals at the institution.(c)

The IACUC is the final authority for issues or concerns related to proposed or approved animal protocols (unless the issue or concern is related to the care or welfare of animals), and has the authority to suspend any activity involving animals or Approved Animal Protocols if it determines that the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the protocol, university policy, or relevant statutes and regulations.

E. Institutional Official (IO)

The President designates the Executive Vice President for Research to serve as the IO, bearing ultimate responsibility for the Animal Care Program, including resource planning and ensuring alignment of program goals with the institution’s mission.(c) This responsibility includes signing the University’s Animal Welfare Assurance, appointing IACUC members, reviewing reports from the IACUC, and taking corrective actions as necessary, including reporting to OLAW and AAALAC any serious or continuing noncompliance, as required.

III. Definitions

Animal Care Program - The activities conducted by faculty, staff, and students at the institution that have a direct impact on the well-being of animals. These include husbandry and veterinary care, policies and procedures, personnel and program management and oversight, occupational health and safety, IACUC functions, and animal facility design and management.(c)

Approved Animal Protocol - The animal use protocol is a detailed description of the proposed use of laboratory animals as reviewed and approved by the IACUC.(c)

Attending Veterinarian (AV) - The veterinarian responsible for the health and well-being of all laboratory animals at the institution.(c)

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) - The IACUC is responsible for assessment, approval and oversight of the institution’s Animal Care Program components and facilities.(c) The IACUC shall be comprised of at least five (5) members appointed by the Institutional Official and, at a minimum, they shall perform a review/inspection of the Animal Care Program and facilities at least every six months and provide a report of such review to the IO. All activities involving vertebrate animals must have advanced written approval from the IACUC.

Institutional Official (IO) - The designated individual responsible for committing, on behalf of Rice University, to meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and who signs the University’s Animal Welfare Assurance with the government.(a,b)

Principal Investigator (PI) - The person, usually a faculty member, who has precise knowledge of both the objectives of the study and the proposed model stated in the Approved Animal Protocol. The PI is ultimately responsible and accountable for activities undertaken under the Approved Animal Protocol. Please see University Policy 301, Submission and Administration of Sponsored Projects, for PI eligibility and responsibilities.

Vertebrate Animals - This term includes all animals with a backbone, including all mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

A. Assurance of Animal Welfare

All care and utilization of research animals will be performed in adherence to the Animal Welfare Assurance, as filed with the U.S. Public Health Service Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), the Animal Welfare Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementing regulations, and all other applicable federal, state and local regulations and guidelines governing the use of animals in research at Rice University. As an accredited facility, Rice is also committed to following AAALAC International’s Rules of Accreditation.

B. Monitoring, Care and Use of Animals

A health check of all animals will be performed every day, including weekends and holidays, by a member of the animal care staff in the central facility, or by personnel trained and experienced in the species being cared for in satellite facilities. The AV is responsible for the health and well-being of all animals used at Rice for research, testing, education, and training purposes.

C. Purchase of Live Vertebrate Research Animals

Vertebrate animals to be purchased or acquired for use in research, testing, education or training may only be purchased or acquired through the Rice University Animal Resources Facility or with prior approval of the Animal Resources Facility Assistant Director of Operations or the AV on an Approved Animal Protocol. Animal vendors will only accept orders received by designated personnel of the Animal Resources Facility. No animals shall be delivered to individual investigators or their laboratories without prior approval of the Animal Resources Facility Assistant Director of Operations and the AV.

D. Occupational Health and Safety of Personnel

An occupational health program is essential for personnel who work in laboratory animal facilities, or personnel who through their work may have intermittent contact with animals. The program should be tailored to individuals according to the risks they will encounter and their medical history. All personnel who work in or have access to the animal resources facilities and/or are identified on an Approved Animal Protocol must have an initial risk assessment based upon the research activities, hazards, and animal species involved as documented by the IACUC’s approved protocol. Re-evaluation should be done periodically and whenever there are changes in the health status of the individual, amount of animal exposure, the type of activity/hazard, and/or the type/species of animal.

Risk assessment levels are defined as a general guide and used to determine the scope of the health and safety requirements, including training and education, and may include some or all of the following: completion of a medical questionnaire, medical examination, and vaccinations.

V. Cross References to Related Policies

Policy No. 301, Policy for the Submission and Administration of Sponsored Projects
Policy No. 313, Laboratory Safety Policy
Policy No. 324, Research Integrity
Policy No. 805, Environmental Health and Occupational Safety Program
Policy No. 814, Procurement Policy

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation

Responsible Official: Executive Vice President for Research

Other Key Offices: Office of Research Integrity; Animal Resources Facility; Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; Office of Sponsored Projects; Environmental Health and Safety

VII. Procedures and Forms

  1. Emergency Number for Animal Welfare Concerns
    (713) 348-4038
  2. Rice Office of Research Integrity IACUC site.
  3. Rice University Animal Resource Facility
  4. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th Ed.


Reginald DesRoches, President

Policy History


May 15, 2024; August 1, 2016; May 4, 1990; March 16, 1987

Clerical Changes

April 11, 2023

August 15, 2023


December 2, 1985