Policy on the Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals for Research, Training, and Teaching Purposes


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on the Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals for Research, Training, and Teaching Purposes



This policy provides those involved in animal care and use at the University with the resources needed to enhance animal well-being, the quality of research, and the advancement of scientific knowledge that is relevant to both humans and animal and to remain in compliance with all animal welfare regulations. A list of regulations and guidance documents are included in this policy to ensure that the audience is provided access to the requirements for use of animals at the University.

Each regulatory document is intended to protect the welfare of animals, as well as the humans that work with them. Non-compliance can have a direct negative impact on the health and welfare of the animals utilized by the University.

Dependent upon the funding source and animal species, the potential impact for non-compliance with this policy may result in external reporting to Federal regulatory agencies (USDA, OLAW), accrediting bodies (AAALACi), reimbursement of research funds, and suspension of animal work.

Scope of Applicability

All persons involved with the care and/or use of animals in research and/or teaching at the University including, but not limited to Principal Investigators, researchers, Animal Handlers, and students.


Policy Statement

This policy defines the expectations of the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) with regard to adherence to federal regulations, state and University standards and other guidance documents.

Compliance & Exceptions

The UNC-CH IACUC expects that anyone involved in animal work at the University will comply with the following:

  • Federal Regulations (PHS policy, Animal Welfare Act, etc. – See list and links in External Regulations and Consequences section)
  • The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
  • University Standards (formerly referred to as IACUC Policies/Guidelines)
  • IACUC Animal Protocols, as approved by the IACUC

Requests for exceptions to any of the above must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


IACUC: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee: Responsible for oversight of the animal care and use program and its components as described in the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Its oversight functions include an ongoing assessment of animal care and use.

DCM: Division of Comparative Medicine: Responsible for the care of all vertebrate animals on the UNC-CH campus. DCM is committed to programs of excellence in veterinary care and laboratory animal management practices for all species used in UNC-CH research endeavors.

USDA (APHIS): United States Department of Agriculture (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service): Responsible for upholding and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The Animal Welfare Act and its associated regulations require that federally established standards of care and treatment be provided for certain warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public.

OLAW: Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare: Implements the PHS Policy. OLAW's responsibility for laboratory animal welfare extends beyond National Institutes of Health to all PHS supported activities involving animals including, implementation, interpretation and evaluation of compliance with the PHS Policy; negotiation of Animal Welfare Assurances; and education of institutions and investigators receiving PHS support.

AAALACi: Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International: A private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. UNC maintains voluntary accreditation through compliance with all federal regulations and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, as evaluated by AAALACi during triennial site visits.

Guide: The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals assist institutions in caring for and using animals in ways judged to be scientifically, technically, and humanely appropriate. The Guide is also intended to assist investigators in fulfilling their obligation to plan and conduct animal experiments in accord with the highest scientific, humane, and ethical principles.

Exception: The IACUC requires that a Principal Investigator (PI) formally apply for an ‘exception’ when wishing to deviate from Federal regulations or Guide and University standards. All requests for exceptions must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC and the PI must receive written approval prior to implementation.

Performance Standard: Engineering standards for physical space help to determine the basic framework for how laboratory animals should be cared for and used, but they cannot take into account all the potential situations one might find in a diverse research environment. In contrast, performance standards focus on goals or expected results of ethical review rather than the process used to achieve the results.

University Standard: The minimum acceptable limits or rules used to achieve Policy implementation, enforceable by the IACUC.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contacts
Subject Contact Telephone Email

IACUC Policy/Procedure

OACU Training and Compliance

(919) 966-5569




(919) 966-5569


Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: December 2, 2016; IACUC
  • Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: NA

Approved by: UNC-CH IACUC


Article ID: 132183
Thu 4/8/21 9:25 PM
Wed 2/14/24 11:39 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
06/03/2019 12:13 PM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
10/18/2023 12:13 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
06/03/2019 12:13 PM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
10/18/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
06/03/2019 12:13 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee