Terms of Reference and Guidelines for the UACC at SFU

Revised: September, 2017

Simon Fraser University conducts research, teaching, or testing that involves the use of animals. The Canadain Council on Animal Care (CCAC) Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animal requires the University to establish a University Animal Care Committee (UACC). The functions of the UACC are specified in the following Terms of Reference, as defined by the CACC, but not limited to them. The UACC reports directly to the Vice-President, Research. The UACC shall consider and advise the Vice-President, Research on facilities and practices at Simon Fraser University relating to the care and use of experimental animals in research and teaching. The UACC ensures that the 3R's (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) are considered for every project involving the use of animals and that these principles are upheld to minimize the number of animals used at Simon Fraser University. The UACC also:

1.  Evaluates proposed procedures for the use of experimental animals;

2.  Ensures adequacy of facilities for care of experimental animals;

3.  Develops and implements, as appropriate, policies and standards of the UACC, with the CCAC guidelines as the minimum standards;

4.  Assures that technical staff and others involved in the care and use of experimental animals are adequately trained;

5.  Ensures that the institution works with the UACC to ensure that all animal users and caregivers are informed of, and comply with, institutional animal care use and policies; and

6.  Regularly reviews its Terms of Reference (as per Section 5a) and forewards recommendations of any changes to the V.P. Research Office.

Terms of Reference

 1. Membership

University Animal Care Committee (UACC) members should be appointed for terms of normally no less than two years and normally no more than four years (renewable once, normally) and not to exceed 8 years for non-ex-officio members. The members of the UACC are appointed by the Vice-President, Research (except as noted below) with the advice of the Director of Animal Care. The membership of the committee may be augmented by the Vice-President, Research according to the needs of the University, and includes:

a.  A Chair, appointed by the Associate Vice-President, Research, who should not be directly involved in the management of the University's animal facilities, nor be the consulting veterinarian for SFU, nor preferably be a major user directly involved in the research of animals, in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest;

b.  A minimum of three tenured or tenure-track SFU Faculty members experienced with animal care and use, and who may or may not be actively using animals during their term on the UACC. Normally, this represents one member of each major animal-using department;

c.  Director of Animal Care. The Direcdtor may be qualified to practice as a veterinarian in British Columbia but should undertake continuing education/training opportunities in experimental animal care use. If the Director proposes to conduct a research protocol involving animals, any protocol of his or hers, for which there is concern about animal welfare, will be forwarded to a consulting Veterinarian;

d.  Veterinarian. The Director may be qualified to practice as a Veterinarian in British Columbia, however, if this is not the case, then the UACC must have a consulting Veterinarian as a member;

e.  An SFU institutional member whose normal activities do not depend on or involve animal use;

f.  Not more than two community members, representing interests and concerns of the community, who have no affiliation with the institution and who are not involved in animal use for research or teaching;

g.  At least one laboratory animal technician experienced in the care and use of animals in research, who is being provided with continuing education/training opportunities in experimental animal care and use;

h.  A student member (if available);

i.   A Coordinator, who takes minutes of the meetings;

j.   Chair of Biohazard Committee (or their representative); and

k.  The Animal Care Services (ACS) Manager who oversees the animal facilities. 

Note: Other persons of expertise are included as the need arises, especially for review of projects.

 2. Authority

The UACC, through the Director of Animal Care, has the authority, on behalf of the Association Vice-President, Research at Simon Fraser University, to take any steps necessary for the welfare of an animal. This authority is delegated to the Veterinarian, and may include the following steps, or other measures as deemed necessary:

a.  Stop any procedure if an animal is experiencing unnecessary distress or pain;

b.  Stop immediately any use of animals which deviates from the approved use, any non-approved procedure, or any procedure causing unforeseen distress or pain to animals; and

c.  Euthanize any animal if pain or distress caused to the animal cannot be alleviated.

 3. Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the University Animal Care Committee to:

a.  Ensure that no research project (including field studies), testing project, or teaching program involving animals (defined as vertebrates and higher cephalopods) be commenced without prior UACC approval of a written animal use protocol, and that animals are not acquired before such approval is given by the UACC. This includes internally funded projects. The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for informing their staff of all obligations and the sanctions listed in Section (2) may be applied if failure to do so occurs;

b.  Ensure that no animals be held for display or breeding purposes, or for eventual use in research, teaching or testing projects, without prior UACC approval of a written animal use protocol;

c.  Require all animal users to submit an animal use protocol. The animal use protocol must include the following information, and be presented in terminology that all members of the UACC can readily understand:

i.  project title and descriptive keywords or brief protocol description, as defined in the CCAC Animal Use Data Form;

ii.  principal investigators and all authorized personnel (post-doctoral fellows, research staff, graduate and undergraduate students: who will handle animals, along with their training and qualifications with respect to animal handling (See Section 3n);

iii.  department affiliation;

iv.  proposed start date and end date;

v.  for research or testing projects, funding source(s) and status of funding approval;

vi.  for research projects, an indication of whether the project has received peer review for scientific merit;

vii.  for teaching programs, a course number and an indication of pedagogical merit;

viii.  for testing projects, an indication that the testing has been planned according to the most current regulatory guidelines, and that the planned animal use does not exceed the requirements of the regulatory authorities; if it does, justification for the additional animal use must be provided;

ix.  lay summary;

x.  indication of the use of biohazard, infectious, biological or chemical or radioactive agents in living animals; and, if so, an indication of institutional approval of this use;

xi.  indication of the CCAC Categories of Invasiveness, and the classification of research based on primary use; as defined in the CCAC Guide and Purpose of Animal Use (PAU) as defined in the CCAC Animal Use Data Form;

xii.  an indication of whether the study is acute or chronic;

xiii.  species and numbers of animals to be used and justification thereof;

xiv.  a description of possible replacement, refinement and/or reduction alternatives, a description of the applicant's efforts to find such alternatives; if alternatives are not used, then justification to support this descision must be provided;

xv.  anesthesia and analgesia, including dosages and route of administration; justification for not using anesthesia or analgesia must be provided;

xvi.  a description detailing the procedures that are carried out on the animals;

xvii.  a description of the endpoint(s) of the experimentation, selected according to the CCAC guidelines on: choosing  an appropriate endpoint in experients using animals for research, teaching and testing, 1998;

xviii.  a description of capture, restraint, transportation and/or housing of animals used in field studies, as well as any other information pertinent to field studies, such as capture or non-target species and potential injuries or mortality during capture or transportation, if relevant;

xix.  method of euthanasia, if used; justification for any physical euthanasia methods, or for any methods taht deviate from those described in the CCAC Guidelines or the AVMA Guidelines for Euthanasia, 2013;

xx.  a description of how the animals will be disposed of if they are not to be euthanized;

xxi.  any other information considered necessary and pertinent, including information or results derived from any relevant previous protocols; and

xxii.  an indication that a current literature search has been done to support the need for the research to be performed.

d.  Ensure that research projects have been peer reviewed for scientific merit. If a peer review is not conducted by an external agency, the UACC will require that one be obtained according to the CCAC Guidelines on: Animal Utilization Protocol Review, 1997 (see also CCAC policy statement on; scientific merit and ethical review of animal-based research, 2013). The office of the Associate Vice-President, Research coordinates and advises the UACC on peer reviews completed in this manner;

e.  Review and assess all animal use protocols, with particular emphasis on the CCAC's Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals, the Ethics of Animal Investigation policy statement and the Guidelines on: Animal Use Protocol Review as well as on all other CCAC guidelines and policy statements and, where necessary, require further supportive information from the investigator or meet with the investigator to ensure that all members of the UACC understand the procedures to be used on the animals. The UACC should ensure that all procedures comply with CCAC guidelines, and if at variance with those guidelines, require justification. This justification will be documented in written form for a permanent record. The UACC both discusses protocols and makes decisions on them during full committee meetings, rather than through individual reviews. The UACC may delegate responsibility for interim approvals to a subcommittee consisting of at least one scientific member, one Veterinarian and one community representative, one of which should be the Chair of the UACC. However, such iterim approvals are subject to discussion and final approval at a full UACC meeting. Facsimile signatures from the community member are considered acceptable provided that a confidential, personal fax line is used and the cover sheet identifies the documentation as confidential;

f.  Review all protocols annually, with the exception of teaching protocols that are reviewed each semester by the entire committee. Annual renewals are reviewed by the subcommittee if no changes in protocols or animal use numbers are indicated. A new application will be required after the third consecutive renewal, along with a progress report detailing the publications, theses completed by graduate students, and justification for continuation. Minor amendments to approved protocols must be approved by the UACC subcommittee before they are implemented. Minor amendments typically include changes to personnel, grant funding sources, and increases in animal numbers that do not exceed 30% of the original protocol. Major amendments must be approved at full UACC meetings, and will typically include substantial increases in animal numbers or changes in the experimental protocol; increases to the Category of Invasiveness; and addition of new species to the protocol. New protocols must be submitted when major amendments involve substantive changes to animal use;

g.  Document all UACC discussions and decisions in the minutes of commitee meetings, and forward decisions to the Principal Investigators (PIs) regarding their applications;

h.  Define an appeal mechanism that can be used by the Principal Investigator (PI) if a protocol is not approved by the UACC. If the UACC does not approve a protocol, the PI will be asked to provide more information or to submit a modified protocol for consideration by the committee. If these measures fail to lead to approval of the protocol, the Chair of the UACC shall provide the PI with a written statement of reasons why the protocol was not approved and forward this statement to the Vice-President, Research. The PI can appeal the decision to the Vice-President, Research. The CCAC may be called upon for information purposes; however, appeals cannot be directed to the CCAC. This provison supersedes all previous CCAC policies on appeals;

i.  Ensure that all animal users have the opportunity to become familiar with the CCAC's Guide and Ethics statement and all other CCAC guidelines and policy statments, federal, provincial or municipal statutes that may apply as well as University policies regarding the use of animals;

j.  Ensure that animal users update their protocols with any modifications they intend to make;

k.  Ensure that animal users report any unanticipated problems or complications, as well as the steps that they have taken to address the problems, to the UACC;

l.  Ensure appropriate care of animals in all stages of their life and in all experimental situations. Veterinary care must be available from either a trained individual at the University or consulting veterinarian;

m.  Establish procedures, commensurate with current veterinary standards, to ensure that:

i.  unnecessary pain or distress to animals are avoided;

ii.  anesthesia and analgesia are propperly and effectively used; the only exception to this may be when agents must be withheld as a scientifically-justified requirement of the study, and that this has been approved by the UACC. Painful studies requiring exemption from the use of either anesthetics or analgesia, are subject to particular scrutiny, not only prior to approval, but also during the experiment;

iii.  post-opperative care commensurate with current veterinary standards is provided; and

iv.  all due consideration is given to animal welfare, including environmental enrichment.

n.  Ensure that policies to provide for a system of animal care that meet the needs of the University are established and implemented, and include:

i.  the requirement that all animal care and animal experimentation are conducted  according to CCAC guidelines and policies, and to any federal, provincial, and University regulations that may be in effect;

ii.  ensuring adequate animal care management of animal facilities; in particular by verifying that there is a person clearly designated to be in charge of animal care and management of the animal facilities, who should be a member of the UACC and who should keep the other UACC members updated on the activities within the animal facilities; including a report on any animal health issues to be presented at each UACC meeting;

iii.  the training and qualifications of animal users and animal care personnel; animal users should receive appropriate training according to the CCAC Guidelines on: Institutional Animal User Training, 1999, either within the institution or through the programs of other institutions;

iv.  standards of husbandry, facilities, and equipment;

v.  stardard operating procedures for all activities and procedures that involve animals; and

vi.  procedures for euthanasia.

o.  Encourage the use of pilot studies with few animals when new approaches, methods or products are being tried, before approving new large-scale protocols;

p.  In the case of projects involving proprietary or patentable research or testing, insist on close monitoring of animals in order to respect the elements in Section 3(m); and

q.  Encouraging Principal Investigators (PIs) to fill in the form "Use of Invertebrates in Research and Teaching".

r.  Ensure that a comprehensive post-approval monitoring program exists for assessing adherence to approved protocols (see SOP R1: Post Approval Review (PAR) Program).

 4. Meetings

The Simon Fraser UACC meets at least once each semester (usually monthly) and as often as necessary to fulfill the Terms of Reference and be satisfied that all animal use within the jurisdiction of SFU is in compliance with the CCAC guidelines, University policies, and withi municipal, federal, and provincial regulations. Attendance may be in person or via teleconference. Decisions of the UACC are reached by consensus decision, or if a vote is requested by a UACC member, then by majority vote by members in attendance, with the Chair having one vote. In case of a tie vote, a motion for approval fails. A quorum comprises a simple majority, which must include the community representative and veterinarian. Minutes detailing UACC discussions, decisions, and modifications to protocols must be produced for each meeting.

The UACC will conduct a site visit of all facilities and experimental laboratories at least once a year, either as one group or divided into smaller groups. All members of the UACC will participate in some of the facility visits on an annual basis. These site visits will be documented in the committee minutes. Those responsible for the animal facilities should respond to any UACC recommendations in writing. Members of the UACC will also participate in a post-approval monitoring proigram that includes site visits.

 5. General

The UACC:

a.  Must regularly review, at least every 3 years:

i.  its Terms of Reference to meet new CCAC policies and guidelines and changing standards withing the University, the scientific community, the animal welfare community and society as a whole, and expand its Terms of Reference to meet the requirements of the University;

ii.  the security of the animals and research facilities;

iii.  standard operating procedures and institutional animal care and use policies; and

iv.  policies and procedures for monitoring animal care and experimental procedures within the University.

b.  Must maintain liaison with the CCAC secretariat and with provincial authorities where applicable;

c.  Must submit complete and accurate animal use information in the CCAC Animal Use Data Form (AUDF) format for all protocols annually (animal use information for each calendar year must be submitted by March 31st of the following year) and also in pre-assessment documentation;

d.  Must develop a crisis management program for the animal facilities and for the animal care and use program, in conjunction with the University's crisis management plans;

e.  Should sponsor from time to time seminars or workshops on animal care, the use of animals in science, and the ethics of animal experimentation, and encourage as many animal users, animal caregivers, students, UACC members, and other interested parties to attend as possible;

f.  Should try to achieve and maintain a high profile within the University and in the community to inform the public regarding experimentation on animals and to demonstrate the institution's efforts in promoting animal welfare;

g.  Must develop and maintain liaison with appropriate animal welfare organizations, particulairly those recognized by and affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), and foster an "open door" policy with such groups; and

h.  Be prepared to address concerns about the use of animals which may arise from time to time.

Contact Information

        UACC Coordinator

                    Discovery 2, Room 230                        Phone: (778) 782 - 4738
                    8900 Nelson Way                                  Email: sfu-uacc@sfu.ca  
                    Simon Fraser University                    
                    Burnaby, BC   V5A 4W9