GMU Animal Subjects Policy

For specific IACUC policies and Standard Operating Procedures related to animal handling, care, and use please contact ORIA via email at:

  1. George Mason University will comply with all applicable Federal and state regulations governing the conduct of animal research. It is the responsibility of the university to provide facilities, which make such compliance possible. Individual investigators are responsible for compliance with procedures governing the conduct of such research, within facilities limitations of the University. Those procedural requirements are outlined below, abstracted from the NIH Guide to the Care and Use of Animals. Faculty applying for extramural funding must also insure that their procedures are in compliance with the requirements of their particular funding source. Some classroom instruction involving the use of animals also falls within the purview of this committee, and all instructors utilizing animal subjects are encouraged to follow all applicable guidelines.
  2. All animal research at George Mason University must be carried out under the supervision of a GMU faculty member qualified and experienced in the type of work being conducted, who assumes responsibility for the legal and ethical conduct of the work.
  3. All work with nonhuman vertebrates, whether for research or teaching purposes, must be approved by the GMU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to initiation of the work. This board will be composed of at least five persons, including the university veterinarian, a nonscientist who is not otherwise affiliated with the university, and three faculty members. The board shall be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Vice Provost for Research. No member of the board may participate in any action involving his/her own use of animals. The board shall assure that the University complies with all legal requirements for the review of work involving animals, and is authorized by the University to suspend any animal work not in compliance with this policy.Work with “nonhuman vertebrates” includes any work in which live nonhuman vertebrates constitute any part of the protocol. For example, work in which cell cultures are derived from live animals, or organs harvested from live animals, requires review; work in which organs or cells (living or dead) are purchased from non-GMU sources having a valid NIH assurance (and GMU personnel or resources are not involved in any way in the initial harvesting of tissue), does not require review. The chairperson of the GMU IACUC will determine whether a protocol requires review.
  4. Application forms for review are available from the Office of Sponsored Programs. The following, abstracted from Federal regulations, shall constitute the primary, but not necessarily the only, criteria for such review. a. Housing – adequate facilities must be available for housing the subjects, OR funds must be available for construction prior to beginning the work. b. Care – provision must be made for regular and adequate food, water, and sanitation. c. Pain and Distress – this includes surgical procedures, painful stimuli, sacrifice, and any other procedure which may be reasonably judged to include more than slight or momentary pain or distress. Measures to be taken to reduce or avoid pain or distress must be described. These must include suitable anesthesia or analgesia to accompany surgery or sacrifice. Exceptions will be granted only when the investigator can demonstrate that such measures would defeat the purpose of the research, and that the work is sufficiently important to justify allowing it to proceed. Any permanent debilitation of the subject must be similarly justified. d. Additional Training – If any aspect of the experiment requires special training or licensing, such as use of radioactive materials or controlled substances, evidence of such training or licensing will be required before approval. e. Other Animals – If the proposed work involves nonhuman vertebrates other than rats or mice, the following additional information must be provided: 1. A written description of alternatives to painful or distressing procedures that were considered, and the rationale for choosing the procedures contained in the protocol; 2. Written assurance that the proposed work is not unnecessarily duplicative of other work; 3. Plans for veterinary care during the proposed work; 4. Assurance that the investigator has reviewed and will comply with all legal requirements specific to the proposed work (e.g., sterile conditions when surgery is proposed). 5. A description of the training or experience, which qualifies the investigator to carry out the proposed work. For more complete details of requirements, the NIH Guide and USDA requirements are on file in the Office of Research Subject Protections for review, if needed. While the above will constitute the primary criteria of the committee in its consideration of applications, the committee may from time to time amend this policy. Such amendments will apply to applications not yet approved, but not to approved applications.
  5. When nonhuman vertebrates other than rats or mice are to be used, the investigator must, on each anniversary of the approval date for work, which is continuing, reapply for approval of the protocol.
  6. Students engaged in research who have not had adequate training in animal handling must receive such instruction before working with the animals. The animal care supervisor is available to provide such instruction.
  7. To fulfill Federal requirements, each animal holding location at GMU must maintain records of species acquisition and loss, reason for loss, and exposure to painful stimuli. Such inventories shall be limited to species for which Federal or other regulations require written records of use.
  8. Any individual who believes that a project involving animals violates its approved protocol, or applicable regulations or laws may contact the Chairperson of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee who shall investigate the allegation.