Personal tools
Share this page: |
Document Actions

Laws & Regulations

Animal Use Guidelines and Regulations Governing the Use of Animals in Research, Teaching and Testing

The PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is the most important law regulating the use of Laboratory Animals in NIH funded research. The PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

"sets forth the requirements that are applicable to all research, research training, biological testing, and related activities involving animals that are supported or conducted by agencies of the PHS. The Policy is mandated by the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (Public law 99-158), and implements the U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training. Included in the Policy are institutional responsibilities for Animal Welfare Assurances, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs), review of projects, programmatic evaluations, facility inspections, record keeping and reporting. Specific criteria for IACUC review of projects, and frequency and methods of review are described. The information required by the PHS in applications or proposals when animals are to be involved, and PHS responsibilities for implementing the Policy, are also included."

The Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare at the National Institutes of Health has responsibility for the general administration and coordination of the Policy on behalf of the PHS. Guidance and information concerning PHS Policy is available at

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

The Guide is accepted by the scientific community as the main resource on laboratory animal care and use. The Guide is also recognized as the standard reference on laboratory animal care and use programs by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, the Public Health Service, and other private organizations and federal agencies. Its guidelines are based on established scientific principles, expert opinion, and experience with methods and practices consistent with high-quality, humane animal care. Copies of the Guide may be obtained from the National Academy Press or read online at

Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare act contains provisions to ensure that animals used in research receive humane care. The law provides for regulating the transport, purchase, sale, housing, care, handling and treatment of covered animals. Currently mice of the genus Mus, rats of the genus Rattus and birds bred for research are not covered by the act. However, interested groups have petitioned the USDA to include these species in the Animal Welfare Act. It is possible that these species will be included in the future.

The text of the Animal Welfare Act may be found at

Penn State Policy on the Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals

Penn State Policy RA15 is designed to provide the following assurances with respect to University projects involving the use of vertebrate animals at all University locations, excluding the College of Medicine at Hershey, which maintains a separate animal welfare assurance to OLAW.

  • Vertebrate animals involved in any University activity shall receive humane care and treatment.
  • Investigators involved in animal research shall be provided with a well-controlled animal research environment.
  • Concerns regarding the care and use of vertebrate animals at the University shall be acted upon in a responsible manner.
  • Research involving the use of vertebrate animals shall be performed in an ethical manner with minimized pain and suffering, and in compliance with applicable federal and state regulations.

Read the entire text of Policy RA15.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) are required by federal law to oversee the humane care and treatment of animals used in research, education and testing. Penn State's IACUC is comprised of appointed members with specific backgrounds including research scientists, nonscientists, veterinarians and community members (who represent the public's interest). One of the primary responsibilities of the Penn State IACUC is to review and approve all proposed animal use activities by Penn State employees or students. In addition, the IACUC must evaluate all aspects of the University's animal care program semiannually. This is accomplished through inspections of animal husbandry, environment and facilities, and review of records, IACUC functions, veterinary care, training and safety programs. The IACUC is also responsible for reviewing and responding to any reported concerns involving the care and use of animals at the University.

The Penn State IACUC is responsible for the University Park campus and all outlying campuses except the Penn State Hershey campus, which has it's own IACUC. The IACUC reports directly to the Office of the Vice President for Research, who is the designated Institutional Official responsible for oversight of all programs involving the care and use of animals. The Office for Research Protections coordinates IACUC activities, provides online IACUC training and is the office from which appropriate animal use application forms may be obtained.