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Institutional Policies

Policy RSCH-VP-005

logo of The University of Southern Mississippi  
Responsible University Administrator: Vice President for Research
Responsible Officer: Director of the Office of Research Integrity
Origination Date: N/A
Current Revision Date: 11/10/18
Next Review Date: 11/10/22
End of Policy Date: N/A
Policy Number: RSCH-VP-005
Status: Effective




Policy Statement

Animals are to be used humanely at The University of Southern Mississippi to advance knowledge through well-designed and approved research and education projects. Their usage must comply with sound ethical principles and pertinent laws and regulations. All animal research must also obtain the approval and oversight of the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Reason for Policy/Purpose

The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to the integrity of research, scholarship, and creative activity. As such, it requires that animals used in the University’s research and educational activities are treated in accord with best practices and principles, including those set forth in the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook. Animal research must also abide by all applicable regulations, including those issued by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act. 


The policy and procedures detailed herein are intended to define and describe The University of Southern Mississippi’s expectations with respect to animal use consistent with the University’s obligations under federal regulations, including USDA 1985, 42 USC §289d (APHIS registration number 65-R-0505) and the Public Health Service’s Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS 2002) (OLAW Assurance number A3851-01).

Who Needs to Know This Policy

This policy applies to all members of the University Community involved in animal use: faculty members; teaching and support staff; research coordinators, technicians, and postdoctoral and other fellows; students; and volunteers. All members of the University Community who use animals in their research and teaching are responsible for participating in the University’s Research and Scholarly Integrity Assurance Program and for being well-informed of the relevant best practices for animal research.

Website Address for this Policy



Animal      Any vertebrate animal produced for or used in research, testing, or teaching.
Animal Use
The proper care, use, and humane treatment of animals obtained, produced for, or used in research, testing, or teaching.         
Attending Veterinarian (AV) The University’s designated Veterinarian.
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)  The University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Investigator  Anyone who participates in the design, conduct, or reporting of a research or scholarly project, regardless of discipline, title, or position. 
Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
Administrative Unit at the University of Southern Mississippi with oversight responsibilities for Animal Subjects Research.
Research Any systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. 


1.0      General Principles


1.1   The use of live animals in research, teaching, or testing will occur only after alternatives have been considered, only when the research is not unnecessarily duplicative of previous experiments, and only when animals will not be subjected to unnecessary unrelieved pain and suffering.


1.2   The use of live animals requires prior consideration, review, and approval by the IACUC.


2.0      Oversight


2.1   Animal research at The University of Southern Mississippi falls under the purview of the IACUC, the Animal Resources Manager, and the Office of Research Integrity, all of which report to the Vice President for Research. The IACUC has the authority to review, approve, disapprove and request modifications to all animal subjects research performed under the aegis of the University. Other University officials may review, approve, disapprove proposed or ongoing research, however, these officials do not have the authority to approve animal research that has not been approved by the IACUC or to otherwise override IACUC authority. Consistent with federal regulations, the IACUC does not require review and approval of purely observational activities that do not influence the animals’ environment or activities in any way or that do not potentially impact the health and safety of researchers. Studies involving only the use of archival video, for example, do not require IACUC review. 


2.2   If at any time the IACUC, the AV, or the Vice President for Research determine that research, teaching, or testing with animals puts either the research animals or humans in imminent danger, the relevant activities may be suspended until concerns have been adequately addressed. If at all possible, this suspension will occur only after notification and consultation with the Principal Investigator.  As soon as possible, The IACUCU must convene to discuss the issue, and approved activities may be suspended only by a majority vote of a quorum of the committee.  In consultation with IACUC, the Vice President for Research is to review the reasons for suspensions promptly, take appropriate corrective actions, and report the matter to OLAW with a full and complete explanation. 


2.3   The Attending Veterinarian is authorized to treat or humanely euthanize animals that are found to be experiencing severe pain or distress that cannot be relieved. If at all possible, such actions will occur only after notification and consultation with the Principal Investigator.


2.4   Unapproved use of animals or unauthorized deviation from an approved animal protocol may constitute scholarly misconduct according to the University’s Scholarly Misconduct Policy and thus may result in disciplinary action.


2.5   The Attending Veterinarian and members of the IACUC may perform unannounced inspections and observations of animals and experimental procedures at any time.


2.6   Biohazardous and radiological materials are to be used only after review and approval by the University’s Biosafety officer and the Institutional Biosafety Committee. When pertinent, documentation of their approval must accompany new protocol applications and protocol amendment submissions.  


2.7   Members of the University community and public at large are encouraged to report concerns about noncompliant or unethical treatment of research animals. Concerns may be reported anonymously to the Office of Research Integrity, IACUC or Attending Veterinarian as appropriate. The University will not tolerate retaliation or harassment of those who report actual or possible violations and will make every effort to protect those who in good faith make their concerns known. Upon receiving allegations of noncompliant or unethical animal research, investigations will be conducted promptly, carefully, and discreetly.  All reasonable cautions allowed by federal and state law will be taken to preserve confidentiality and to protect the rights and legitimate interests of both those who raise concerns and those who are subjects of investigations, consistent with the need for comprehensive review of the situation.


3.0      Responsibilities


3.1   IACUC


3.1.1    The IACUC is responsible for ensuring that animal use complies with applicable ethical principles, laws, and regulations. Detailed descriptions of the IACUC’s composition and procedures are maintained in the IACUC Handbook.


3.1.2    The IACUC is responsible for reviewing and monitoring submitted protocols, for continuing review, for regular facilities inspections, and for submitting required reports in a timely fashion. 


3.1.3    The IACUC is responsible for prompt, careful and discreet investigations of all allegations of non-compliant or unethical research involving animal subjects.


3.2    Investigators


3.2.1    Principal Investigators are responsible for submitting accurate and detailed Animal Care and Use Protocols. Prior to ordering or using live vertebrate animals for any purpose, protocols must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC. Retrospective IACUC approval will not be granted under any circumstances. Information contained in IACUC protocols must not materially conflict with or deviate from information provided to extramural funding agencies or other committees. Unapproved protocol deviations or animal research without IACUC approval constitutes possible Scholarly Misconduct (RSCH-VP-02).


3.2.2    Any changes from an approved IACUC protocol, including changes in personnel, species, usage, animal procedures, anesthesia, post-operative care, or biohazard procedures, must be reported to and approved by the IACUC before implementation. Unanticipated adverse events must be promptly reported to the appropriate person.    


3.2.3    Principal Investigators are responsible for submitting annual summaries of their research activities to IACUC for continuing review, along with copies and current licenses and certifications relevant to animal collection and use.      


3.2.4    Investigators must at all times adhere to USM’s Animal Care and Use Handbook, as well as to the policies and procedures of particular animal facilities, including those of research sites both on and off campus, and the IACUC’s Emergency Management Plan.


3.2.5    Investigators are responsible for completing and keeping current the appropriate training and certification of training prior to live animal use. Appropriate training includes attaining hands-on proficiency with experimental techniques, completing the relevant courses in the University’s Research and Scholarly Integrity Assurance Program (both the designated “Common Course” and the Animal Subjects Research Course), and gaining familiarity with IACUC’s Emergency Management Plan. Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that all persons working on their projects are appropriately trained, informed, and proficient.


3.2.6    When required, Principal Investigators must apply for, receive, and adhere to State and Federal permits governing collections, capture, and marking.


3.2.7    Principal Investigators are responsible for ensuring that all personnel working on projects involving non-fish vertebrates (such as mice, birds, rabbits, primates) and  who are handling or exposed to the research animals have completed the appropriate Occupational Safety and Health pre-screening and have been properly informed of relevant health risks, precautions, and emergency medical procedures.  Researchers working with fish are exempted from this requirement. 


3.3    Office of Research Integrity


3.3.1      The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for ensuring that IACUC oversight of animal use at the University is effective and timely, and that problems that arise with respect to animal research are addressed and resolved promptly.


3.3.2      ORI is responsible for administering IACUC submissions, together with the IACUC Chair.


3.3.3      ORI is responsible for insuring that investigations into allegations of noncompliant or unethical research involving animals is conducted promptly, carefully and discreetly. The Director of ORI must also be available for confidential consultations regarding possible inappropriate treatment of animal subjects.


3.3.4      With the advice of the IACUC, ORI is responsible for updating this policy as circumstances require.


3.4       Attending Veterinarian


3.4.1      The AV is responsible for regular inspection, monitoring and care of the animals, and must be available as needed to intercede in emergency situations on the behalf of animals.


3.4.2      At least annually, the AV must review, update and approve the Program of Veterinary Care.


3.5       Animal Resources Manager


3.5.1      The animal resources manager is responsible for ensuring the adequacy and functionality of the animal facilities.


3.5.2    The animal resources manager is responsible for managing and evaluating the animal facilities personnel and staff.


The Director of the Office of Research Integrity is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).


Protocol submission policies and further information can be found at the University’s IACUC website:




Related Information




Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes

02/19/13: Drafted.

04/11/13: Approved by IACUC.

04/23/13: Formatted for template.

06/05/17: Modified.

09/20/17: Modified, clarifying that training certificates need to be kept current (3.2.3, 3.2.5).

11/10/18: Modified, adding information pertinent to new Occupational Health and Safety Program (3.2.7) 

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