Working With Animals

Principal Investigators (PIs) who plan to engage in research, training, or teaching that involves live vertebrate animals must obtain approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

To do so, an IACUC application must be submitted online using eIACUC that outlines the:

  • Research value to human or animal health
  • Design of the study
  • Rationale for using animals
  • Choice of animal species
  • Details on specific procedures involving animals
  • Measures you will take to ensure the well-being of your experimental subjects
  • Submission, processing, and review all take place online, using eIACUC.

Training on the eIACUC system is mandatory.  Researchers can sign up for training at > Search > eIACUC remote training as well as search > eIACUC videos.

Who is eligible to be a Principal Investigator for animal research?

In general, only full-time faculty members can serve as PI for IACUC applications. However, we do consider exceptions on a case by case basis, if the project and PI have received approval from the IACUC.

What types of animals does the Medical School support in research?

The IACUC does not restrict your choice of species for research purposes.  However, researchers need to consult with the Center for Comparative Medicine and Surgery (CCMS) Director, Jonathan Cohen, DVM, DipAclam, ensure that the vivaria can accommodate the choice of species. CCMS can also provide information about ordering, transporting, and receiving animals.

What training do you require or recommend?

Mandatory training is required prior to working with laboratory animals. The IACUC requires Principal Investigators to take the Rigor and Reproducibility and Species modules related to their area of study.  Study team members are required to take Species modules related to their PI’s area of study.

The Center for Comparative Medicine and Surgery (CCMS) Training Coordinator (212-241-3008) provides initial and periodic seminars, online courses, and laboratory demonstrations. Topics include animal care and husbandry; experimental techniques (e.g., animal handling, blood collection, and euthanasia); safe working practices; federal and institutional regulations; IACUC policies; facility access and operations; and security.

If you are working on studies that involve hazardous biological, chemical or radioactive substances, Biosafety and Radiation Safety Officers can provide training on safety practices.

How do I obtain and maintain approvals to conduct animal research?

The IACUC grants project approval for animal research after all reviews have been completed, including a safety and risk assessment conducted by the Institutional Biosafety Committee, and all responses to any requests for protocol modifications have been provided.

Approvals are valid for three years. Progress reports are due at the beginning of the second and third years of the triennial approval period. At the end of this period, a new IACUC application must be submitted to continue research.

How do you monitor my research after I receive approval?

Once a protocol has been approved and the research begins, the IACUC oversees the research via review of the annual progress report; monitoring of animal health and well-being; and the progress of protocols that risk morbidity, severe debilitation, or mortality of experimental subjects. This is referred to as the Post-Approval Monitoring program (PAM). The IACUC also conducts federally required semiannual inspections and unannounced laboratory inspections.

What resources and support are available?

The IACUC can provide information on animal care and use; IACUC applications; institutional policies; and federal regulations, and external sources of information, resources, and support.

The International Biosafety Committee can tell you about occupational health and safety, and standard operating procedures for handling hazardous materials.

About Animal Research

At Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, we support the responsible and ethical use of animals in research, which is necessary to achieve a greater understanding of biological process in health and disease and to discover new treatments for chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Animal research plays a vital role in scientific breakthroughs and is an essential part of virtually every medical discovery and the development of virtually every new medical treatment over the past 100 years. The topic of animal research is an important one. Laboratory animals are living creatures that deserve to be treated with respect, care and compassion. This belief is shared by our scientists who adhere to thorough and stringent laws, regulations and established practices in place to ensure the welfare of research animals. Animals provide irreplaceable and invaluable models for human systems and continue to play a crucial part in medical and scientific research aimed at conquering the main diseases of our time including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, drug addiction, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and psychosis, among many others.