The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is dedicated to the task of facilitating and assisting faculty in the conduct of research, teaching and other activities involving the use of laboratory animals. The committee consists of a minimum of 5 voting members from the faculty, administration, and community, and must include a scientist, a non-scientist, and a person unaffiliated with the university and its animal care program. The IACUC is responsible for assuring that all animal use complies with the Animal Welfare Act, Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and all other applicable regulations, policies and procedures. Any use of animals at Augusta University without IACUC approval is a violation of Augusta University policy and federal law.
Responsibility for animal welfare at Augusta University ultimately lies with the University President. These responsibilities are formally delegated as follows:
No member may participate in the IACUC review or approval of a protocol in which the member has a conflicting interest or is personally involved in the project. A member with a conflict of interest may provide information requested by the IACUC, but may not participate in the discussion or vote. The conflicted member will be excused during the discussion and vote and their attendance will not be counted towards a quorum. If a member of the IACUC is excused because of conflict of interest, and a quorum is no longer present, a decision on the protocol will be deferred until the next meeting. The Chair or an IACUC committee member may request that a member be excused from committee deliberations on a specific protocol because of possible or perceived conflict of interest.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces Augusta University compliance with the Animal Welfare Act by conducting at least one unannounced inspection tours each year. IACUC records and the animal use facilities are examined. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) enforces the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. OLAW makes announced inspections of animal care and use procedures at Augusta University. Either agency can request suspension of federal support for Augusta University's research efforts if the institution is found to be in violation of regulations.
The IACUC has been given oversight responsibility to enforce USDA regulations and the Augusta University Assurance of Compliance with Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals by federal regulatory law. The Animal Use Protocol (AUP) provides the basis for compliance and IACUC approval provides the assurance. Thus, investigators must closely adhere to the AUP for every aspect of animal care and use. Inappropriate animal care or treatment (including deviations from those approved in the AUP) will be investigated by the IACUC. An AUP can be suspended by a majority vote by the IACUC, an action, which by law cannot be reversed by an institutional official. OLAW is notified of such an occurrence whether or not the project is federally funded. The IACUC will notify the investigator of the corrective actions needed to reinstate the AUP.
The Augusta University Animal Care and Use Program is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.