The March issue of Lab Animal contains a “Commentary on Lab Animal Protocol Review” column, and this month’s thought-provoking case study is entitled, “Disagreement between IO and IACUC“. The case states that an IACUC was informed of a ventilation problem in an auxiliary animal housing room, which enabled the ambient temperature to reach unacceptable levels. The animals were moved, and the IACUC submitted a significant deficiency report to the IO (Institutional Official). The IO, after initially agreeing with the report, subsequently reversed his decision after being influenced by the PI whose animals were relevant to the report. The IACUC chairman was unable to convince IO to sign the report, and the membership of the committee differed on the next steps.
Two responses to the case were included. They both state that the IO is ultimately responsible for animal welfare, as defined by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the USDA and PHS. Though the IO is institutionally responsible, they do not have authority over the IACUC. The IACUC found the deviations, reported them through the proper chain, and these should be sent to the relevant governing bodies. Both responses encourage continued dialog between the IO and the IACUC, so that the IO can understand the gravity of the situation, and report the deficiency.
The APHIS and OLAW perspective agrees with the responses. They state that the conditions found qualified for significant deficiencies, and should be reported from the IACUC through the IO to governing bodies. They state “the IACUC must be empowered by the CEO of the institution to perform its duties without undue influence”. They conclude by saying that reporting inquiries are always welcomed.
What would you do?