IACUC Triennial Reviews

Triennial review is a complete (de novo) IACUC review of the previously approved protocol that is federally required every three years to receive continued approval of ongoing activities on the protocol. The protocol PI, PI Proxy(ies), and Primary Contact receive an email notification when a triennial review is coming due. 

Begin a Triennial Review

To begin a Triennial Review, follow the instructions below:

Click on the link to the protocol workspace from the email OR open the protocol workspace following these steps:

  1. Log in to CATS IACUC (http://iacuc.psu.edu).
  2. Click Submissions in the left sidebar menu.
  3. Click on the Active tab.
  4. Click on the Name of the protocol that is due for triennial review to access the protocol workspace.

Next, select "Create Triennial Review" from the Next Steps menu.

Triennial Review.png


Triennial Review Summary Page

Then complete the Triennial Review Summary Page and include the following:

  • a brief summary of the progress of your research over the past three years
  • an overview of what work remains and explain any changes to your research plans for the next three years of approval
  • an updated animal usage count to date listed under Update Animal Use Count.  Add any animal usage for your currently approved protocol that is not already listed.

Update the Protocol

Click “Continue” to open the protocol form and complete the Triennial Review submission. The image below depicts the "Continue" button in the banner at the top and bottom of the page.

Picture of the Continue button in the top banner


The Triennial Review submission will automatically populate with all responses from the currently approved protocol. All responses must be reviewed and, if needed, updated to reflect the next three years of research/activity with special consideration to the following:

Basic Information

Update the Brief Lay Summary to summarize the next three years of research/activity.


Protocol Team Members

Add or remove personnel from your protocol as needed.


Funding Sources 

Add or remove funding sources from your protocol. If no grant is selected, add your department.


Scientific Aims

Update the Scientific aims and the Significance and benefits of the research to account for the next three years of research/activity.


If an experiment is no longer needed, click the Delete (x) to remove it. Add any new components to the experimental description (experiment question 3). Update the animal numbers in each experiment to reflect the total number of animals needed for the next three years of research (experiment questions 6 and 7).

University Park and Commonwealth campus researchers: If amendment details were added to the end of the experimental description in question 3, incorporate those details into the experimental design for the next three years of approval.



Archived Procedures:

Experiments with outdated (archived) procedures must be updated by removing the outdated procedure and adding the new version (experiment question 5) before the triennial review can be submitted. If the procedure is outdated, you will see the word “Archived” at the end of the procedure name in the Procedures column on the main Experiments page, as depicted in the image below. The triennial review workspace also warns “A procedure associated with this protocol has a newer version. Outdated procedures must be replaced before the next triennial review can be submitted.” 

Picture of an Archived Procedure on the Experiments page

Updating Procedures:

If changes to procedures are needed to reflect the research/activities for the next three years (e.g., addition of new substances), create a new version or copy of the procedure, and make desired changes in the new version/copy. Learn how to create and copy a procedure or watch this video for more guidance. Remove outdated versions/copies of procedures from the experiment(s) and add the new versions to the experiment(s).

Note: The previously approved version(s) of the procedure(s) must continue to be followed on this protocol until the triennial review with updated procedures is approved. If a previously approved version of procedure is listed on other protocols, it must continue to be followed for those protocols until/unless the updated version is added to and approved on those protocols.



Personnel should review their Experience entries and update the entry in their profiles to reflect any experience and training they have received since the last entry update. Review how to update "Experience" entries.


Remove transgenic strains you are no longer using or add strains you intend to use in the next three years. 

Penn State Hershey campus researchers: Listing strains on the protocol is only required if the strains being used present with any clinical signs of concern/phenotype requiring special care that animal care/veterinary staff should be aware of (e.g., immunocompromised strains, prone to spontaneous tumor growth, or brittle bones, etc.).


Animal Justification

Verify that the Animals Identified in Experiments column correctly reflects the number needed for the next three years. If not, updates should be made within the experiments on the Experiments page. If reusing animals across experiments over the next three years, update the Adjusted Animal Count figure for each pain category. If the numbers of animals identified in the experiments will be the same as the numbers of animals actually needed for the experiments, then type the same amount in the Adjusted Animal Count column.

Example: Two experiments require a total of 200 animals. When the protocol team conducts the experiments, they will actually only need 150 animals because they will reuse the 50 animals from experiment 1 (pain category C) in experiment 2 (pain category C).

Animal Justification Help Text.png

If you have not made changes to the Adjusted Animal Count respond “N/A” to question 2.

Update the Justify the number of animals to be involved in this protocol response to justify the number animals that will be used for the next three years. 

If needed, update the source of animals in question 6.



All literature searches for alternatives must be redone at the time of the Triennial Review. Click “Update” to the left of any outdated searches to update the search details.

Housing and Use

Add or remove housing and use locations from your protocol.



Verify that animal disposition indicated is still accurate. Update if needed.

University Park and Commonwealth campus researchers: If animals are transferred to another protocol, verify the protocol information provided in question 2 is still correct. Update if needed.


Review the details of the genotyping procedure(s) listed in question 3; select the genotyping methods you will use. If no longer current, replace the listed procedure with an updated procedure.  

In question 4, check "Yes" if strain(s) listed on the protocol will require delayed weaning per the appropriate institutional guidance (HY: >21 days; UP: >26 days). Refer to the blue Help Text bubble next to question 4 for more information. 


Field Research

  • Update field locations as appropriate.
  • Verify that contingency plan(s) for injured animals are still correct.
  • Given the target species and non-target species that may have been caught/observed in the past three years, review the biological and ecological impacts of the research and update as appropriate.


Update any outdated documents.

  • Penn State Hershey campus researchers: Attach an updated IACUC Protocol Snapshot.
  • All other Penn State researchers: If your protocol includes an Animal/Biohazard form (see the Support Documents page help text for clarification), an updated version to cover the next three years of research/activity is required.


Submit a Triennial Review

Once finished with all changes, click “Save and Exit” to close the protocol and save changes. Click "Submit"in the Next Steps menu.

Picture of Next Steps menu with submit button