Overhead drone shot of the Capitol and the Pentacrest

Animal Care

Ethical Review

Before animals are incorporated into research, teaching, or training, the proposed project must undergo an ethical evaluation that balances benefits and harms. This assessment is the responsibility of an institutional animal care and use committee, or IACUC.

IACUC Membership

  1. Veterinarians with extensive training and experience in laboratory animal science and medicine, 
  2. Scientists with experience in research involving animals,
  3. Nonscientists whose primary area of specialty may be law, ethics, religion, libraries, etc.,
  4. Individuals who are not affiliated with the University of Iowa to represent the general community interests.

For researchers to receive approval to use animals, they must demonstrate that they have looked for non-animal alternatives that are scientifically possible. If non-animal alternatives are not available, the researcher must explain and define how they will incorporate the four R’s that govern the ethical use of animals in research: Replacement, Reduction, Refinement and Responsibility.

Once the IACUC approves a project, the institution continues its commitment to provide high-quality care. Veterinarians, animal caretakers, researchers, lab staff, and staff in compliance roles work together to ensure that the research complies with all federal laws and regulations as well as the ethical principles that govern the use of animals in research.


In order to meet our obligations for good stewardship, animals are provided with a carefully-controlled and well-monitored environment that meets their specific needs. This includes food, water, room temperature and humidity settings, size and construction of enclosures, bedding or litter, and environmental enrichment. 

Dedicated animal care staff provide these services with oversight by veterinarians, supervisors, and the IACUC.

Veterinary Care

Animals also need to be examined every day, sometimes more than once, to evaluate the status of their health. Animal care staff, veterinary staff, and research staff conduct this monitoring. The UI uses a medical reporting system to ensure that veterinarians receive prompt notification about all animals that require additional monitoring or medical treatment.

Veterinarians receive training in the medical care of laboratory animals through formal residency training programs and/or through experience working with animals under the guidance of other formally trained and certified laboratory animal veterinarians. The UI has four veterinarians who are board-certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), including the director and associate director of the Office of Animal Resources.

Adherence to Protocol

Next, the university ensures that all animal manipulations or treatments are described in an IACUC-approved animal protocol. Compliance is a shared responsibility of all members of the animal care and use program and is assessed by regular and unannounced visits to animal areas.

Reporting concerns

The humane care and use of animals is of paramount importance to the University of Iowa.  Individuals who have specific concerns about the treatment of animals, including animal husbandry concerns, should report their observations to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for investigation.