Animal Use FAQs

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has the responsibility for ensuring that all animals used in research, education, or testing activities at the Pennsylvania State University are treated humanely and in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws and policies. These activities are coordinated through the Office for Research Protections (ORP), which is located in The 330 Building, Suite 205.

Concerns or questions related to projects involving animals conducted at or under the auspices of The Pennsylvania State University can be directed to the Director of Research Protections (Telephone: (814) 865-1775; Fax: (814) 863-8699; The matter will be referred to the IACUC chairperson and the attending veterinarian, and if appropriate, the IACUC. These concerns or questions will be handled confidentially. Federal law prohibits the discrimination against persons that bring forth legitimate concerns for investigation.

Concerns may also be directed to the Penn State Ethics and Compliance Hotline at 1-800-560-1637. FFor more information on reporting concerns anonymously, please see the Office of the Vice President for Research page on reporting suspected wrongdoing.

The Animal Resource Program (ARP) can be contacted at 865-1495 regarding purchasing laboratory animals.

Contact the following facility coordinators: Jennifer Kuhns at 814-865-1495 (small laboratory animals); Randy Swope at 814-863-3658 (livestock); Lester Griel, Jr. at 814-865-7696 (Mastitis); Dirk Wise at 814-863-0510 (poultry).

Please refer to the animal numbers memo included in every new approval letter and annual review approval letter.  Between annual reviews, the PRAMS Animal Subject Census feature provides more current animal numbers as it includes animals added via modification, ordered from the Animal Resource Program, and reported as transferred to other protocols.

According to the Animal Welfare Act, Policy 12, animal procedures that may cause pain or distress require a literature search for alternatives.

A minimal written narrative must include:

  • databases searched or other sources consulted;
  • the date the search was conducted;
  • the years covered by the search;
  • the keywords and/or search strategy used, and;
  • a brief statement summarizing the outcome of your search stating that no acceptable alternatives were found or why potential alternatives cannot be used.

The narrative should be such that the IACUC can readily assess whether the search topics were appropriate and whether the search was sufficiently thorough.

An MTA outlines the terms of use of tangible research materials. While terms may vary from one agreement to the next, the most commonly negotiated elements include: rights and ownership of intellectual property and data, publication rights, liability and governance. MTAs cover a wide array of materials, including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data. MTAs allow researchers to share tangible materials as well as receive tangible materials without necessarily having to purchase them.

An MTA is required when:

  1. Penn State owned tangible research materials including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data are being sent to another academic institution, research institution or company.
  2.  A Penn State researcher will receive tangible research materials including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data from another academic institution, research institution or company.  If the materials are being shipped to Penn State, Penn State often uses the company/institution’s agreement.

For all University locations other than the Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine:

Penn State’s Office of Technology Management (OTM) processes all MTAs for materials being shipped from Penn State and materials being shipped to Penn State from another academic institution, research institution or company.   

Many of Penn State’s Colleges also have their own checklist completion requirements and/or other approval requirements for MTAs.  Researchers should consult with their College’s Research Office regarding any additional MTA requirements or may contact the OTM for additional information. 

If biological materials are being sent or received, the Uniform Biological Materials Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) can be used if the other institution/company has signed the Master UBMTA. You can check the list of entities that have signed the Master UBMTA as well as download the UBMTA for completing. The UBMTA should still be sent through the OTM for execution on behalf of Penn State.

The OTM coordinates with Penn State's Office for Research Protections (ORP) to verify that all necessary research oversight committee (i.e. IRB, IACUC, IBC and UIC) approvals are in place for all materials listed on the MTA. If materials are being received from or shipped outside of the United States, the OTM also completes an export review to ensure that there is no export control on the materials.

The OTM will prepare and forward the MTA for appropriate signatures by the other company/institution and/or PSU. Once the agreement is fully executed, a signed copy will be sent to the other institution/company and the OTM will notify the Penn State researcher and the College so that arrangements can be made to send/receive the materials. (Please note: All incoming and outgoing animal shipments must be coordinated through Penn State’s Animal Resource Program.  When shipping hazardous materials, researchers must adhere to Penn State Policy SY34, Hazardous Material Shipping.) 

The MTA execution process can sometimes take one to two weeks to complete.

Any questions regarding an MTA should be directed to the OTM (814-865-6277 or