University of Texas at Austin’s Commitment to Responsible Use of Animals in Research
The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is committed to the humane care and use of animals in our research. Not only has animal research benefited humans by increasing our understanding of disease, it also has advanced veterinary care that benefits our pets. For researchers to build on scientific achievements of the past and continue to find new answers for society’s biggest problems, animal research remains a vital component of research. Researchers at UT understand that good science goes hand-in-hand with good animal welfare. The UT research community shares the public interest in the humane and ethical treatment of animals in research and have developed a comprehensive program to promote this interest.
UT invests substantial resources to ensure that the welfare of animals, used in its research programs, remains a priority. UT has been voluntarily accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) since 2001. This accreditation organization helps UT’s animal research program to meet and exceed national standards for the care and use of animals.
When considering any use of animals in research, UT utilizes three important concepts known widely as the “Three R’s”: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. The purpose of these concepts is to minimize animal use and pain or distress, while achieving critical scientific objectives leading to advances that directly impact human health and medical care.
- Reduction stipulates using the least number of animals possible to achieve the research objective.
- Replacement involves requiring evidence that a non-animal model is not available and/or that the identified species is justified.
- Refinement ensures that any pain or distress that the animal might experience is alleviated or minimized as much as possible.
Federal laws and other regulations regarding animal research are created to address public and scientific concern for the humane care and use of animals. Animal research at UT is conducted humanely according to the highest legal and ethical standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (Animal Welfare Act and Regulations) and National Institutes of Health (Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Policies and Laws).
The UT program supporting the humane care and use of animals includes the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and the Animal Resources Center (ARC). The IACUC approves and provides continued oversight of animal research, teaching, and testing activities. Members of the committee evaluate animal use proposals to ensure that the use of animals is justified, adheres to the “Three R’s,” including requiring researchers to have a plan that prevents or minimizes any pain or distress the animals may experience during the course of the study. The IACUC is comprised of veterinarians, scientists, non-scientists, community representatives, and animal care professionals. The ARC employs veterinarians specialized in laboratory animal care. Specially trained veterinary technicians and animal caretakers ensure that all animals are observed daily and are provided the care needed to ensure optimal welfare. The animals receive clean housing, fresh water, nutritious diets, and species-appropriate enrichment.
The use of animals in research is a privilege, carrying with it a professional and ethical obligation to ensure that animals are treated humanely. UT is committed to this concept along with the advancement of scientific research that benefits the care and wellbeing of both humans and animals. We encourage you to read about UT’s discoveries on how we are achieving these objectives.
Dr. Alison Preston
Interim Vice President for Research
Learn about animal care and oversight at UT Austin, top myths about animal research, and discoveries made at UT Austin using animals on our Why Animal Research Matters website.