Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee​

The UPR-RRP-IACUC oversees the Program of Animal Care and Use in our Institution.  Our committee was constituted to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Public Health Service (PHS). We recommend all researchers, students and personnel working with animals in a previously approved protocol or planning to do so in the future, to familiarize themselves with all the topics in this web page and to explore the Useful Links section to learn more about this topic.  If you have any doubt or any concern regarding the care and use of animals in our Institution please contact us at IACUC.

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Animal Care and Use Program

Institutions that receive support from the Public Health Service (PHS) for activities involving live, vertebrate animals are subjected to the authority of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and must operate an animal care and use program with clear lines of authority and responsibility. The program must include:

  • A properly constituted Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC);
  • Procedures for self-monitoring;
  • An adequate veterinary care program;
  • An occupational health and safety program;
  • An environmental, housing, and management program for animals; and
  • Appropriately maintained facilities for housing and support.

The PHS policy requires an institutional Animal Welfare Assurance that provides details on the institutional program in order to award funds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that animal research facilities be registered with the agency. The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, is currently registered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under registration number 94-R-0103, as required by AWA. This registration is renewed every three years. Our campus also has an Animal Welfare Assurance #D16-00165 with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), as required by the PHS policy. This assurance is renewed every four years.

IACUC Authority

  • IACUCs derive their authority from federal law. They are mandated by the Health Research Extension Act (HREA) of 1985 and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) . The laws require the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an organization to appoint the IACUC.
  • Once appointed, IACUCs report to a senior administrator known as the Institutional Official (IO). The IO must have administrative and operational authority to commit institutional resources to ensure compliance with the PHS Policy, the AWA Regulations (AWARs) , and other requirements.
  • The IACUC is required to perform semiannual program evaluations as a means of overseeing the animal care and use program. The IACUC advises the IO on the status of the institution’s compliance, establishes plans and schedules for correcting deficiencies, and makes recommendations to the IO regarding any aspect of the institution’s animal program, facilities, or personnel training.
  • The IACUC is responsible for reviewing protocols that involve the use of vertebrate animals. The IACUC’s authority to review and approve protocols is independent of the IO who may not overrule an IACUC decision to withhold approval. (The opposite is not true. If the IACUC approves a protocol, the institution is not required or obligated to conduct the activity.) The institution may subject protocols to additional institutional review (e.g., department director, biosafety committee, etc.).

Committee Composition and Quorum Requirements

Federal laws mandate that the IACUC be composed of members who fulfill particular roles. Specifically, the AWA requires the following (at a minimum):

  • Chairperson – The IACUC chair has the responsibility for overseeing the coordination and implementation of effective, efficient systems for protocol review and program review by the IACUC in compliance with the PHS policy an the AWA. The chair is the spokesperson for the IACUC, and is responsible for evaluating and promoting initiatives to improve the animal care and use program.
  • Veterinarian – The veterinarian must have direct or delegated program responsibility.
  • Non-affiliated member – This member must not be affiliated with the institution in any way. This person is intended to represent general community interests in terms of the care and use of animals in teaching and research. This member has equal status to every other member of the committee.
  • Scientist – This member must be a practicing scientist experienced in research involving animals.
  • Non-scientist – This member must have primary concerns that are in a nonscientific area.

There is no requirement that any particular member or category of members must be present at all IACUC meetings (note: this differs from Institutional Review Board (IRB) regulations, which require the nonscientist member to be present). However, an institution must have a properly constituted IACUC in order for the committee to conduct valid official business.

Quorum Requirements

“Quorum” is defined as a majority (50%) of the voting members of the IACUC.

Conflict of Interest

  • The AWARs and PHS Policy mandate that no IACUC member “may partictipate in the IACUC review or approval of an activity in which that member has a conflicting interest (e.g., is personally involved in the activity), except to provide information requested by the IACUC.”
  • If the investigator submitting a protocol believes that an IACUC member has a potential conflict, the investigator may request that the member be excluded. When a member has a conflict of interest, the member should notify the IACUC chair and may not participate in the IACUC review or approval except to provide information. Members who have a conflict of interest may not be counted toward a quorum and may not vote.

Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals

U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals in Research, Teaching and Training

The development of knowledge necessary for the improvement of the health and well being of humans as well as other animals requires in vivo experimentation with a wide variety of animal species. Whenever U.S. Government agencies develop requirements for testing, research, or training procedures involving the use of vertebrate animals, the following principles shall be considered; and whenever these agencies actually perform or sponsor such procedures, the responsible institutional officer shall ensure that these principles are adhered to:

  1. The transportation, care, and use of animals should be in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. et. seq.) and other applicable Federal laws, guidelines, and policies.
  2. Procedures involving animals should be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society.
  3. The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. Methods such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro biological systems should be considered.
  4. Proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress in human beings may cause pain or distress in other animals.
  5. Procedures with animals that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress should be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia. Surgical or other painful procedures should not be performed on unanesthetized animals paralyzed by chemical agents.
  6. Animals that would otherwise suffer severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved should be painlessly killed at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.
  7. The living conditions of animals should be appropriate for their species and contribute to their health and comfort. Normally, the housing, feeding, and care of all animals used for biomedical purposes must be directed by a veterinarian or other scientist trained and experienced in the proper care, handling, and use of the species being maintained or studied. In any case, veterinary care shall be provided as indicated.
  8. Investigators and other personnel shall be appropriately qualified and experienced for conducting procedures on living animals. Adequate arrangements shall be made for their in-service training, including the proper and humane care and use of laboratory animals.
  9. Where exceptions are required in relation to the provisions of these Principles, the decisions should not rest with the investigators directly concerned but should be made, with due regard to Principle II, by an appropriate review group such as an institutional animal research committee. Such exceptions should not be made solely for the purposes of teaching or demonstration.

Published in the Federal Register, 5/20/85, Vol. 50, No. 9

Federally Mandated Functions of the IACUC

  1. Review, at least once every six months, the research facilities program for the humane care and use of animals using The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy, also referred to as “The Guide”) and Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A-Animal Welfare of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as a basis for evaluation.
  2. Inspect, at least once every six months, all of the institution’s animal facilities. PHS Policy requires the inspection of satellite holding facilities (areas outside the core facility in which animals are held for more than 24 hours) and areas in which surgical manipulations are performed. USDA Regulations require the inspection of animal study areas where animals are housed for more than 12 hours (for USDA regulated species).
  3. Prepare reports of the IACUC evaluations and submit reports to the Institutional Official (IO). Reports must distinguish significant deficiencies from minor deficiencies and must contain a reasonable and specific plan and schedule for correcting each deficiency. A significant deficiency is one that is or may be a threat to the health and safety of animals. For USDA regulated species, a significant deficiency remaining uncorrected beyond the scheduled correction date shall be reported in writing to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ( APHIS) and any federal agency funding that activity. The reports shall be made available to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) upon request.
  4. Review, and if warranted, investigate concerns involving the care and use of animals at the institution. This includes public complaints and reports of noncompliance received from laboratory of research facility personnel or employees.
  5. Make recommendations to the IO regarding any aspects of the animal program, facilities, or personnel training.
  6. Review and approve, require modifications in, or withhold approval of those components of proposed activities related to the care and use of animals.
  7. Review and approve, require modifications in, or withhold approval of proposed significant changes regarding the care and use of animals in on-going activities.
  8. Be authorized to suspend an activity involving animals if it determines that the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the description provided by the investigator and approved by the IACUC (USDA Regulations), or if the activity is not being conducted in accordance with PHS Policy.

The functions listed above are granted to the IACUC by federal law. The institution, however, may grant additional powers to the committee as long as these do not conflict with federal regulations.

Practicing the “3 Rs” – Considerations for Investigators

The Animal Welfare Act legislatively mandates that IACUCs ensure that PIs have considered the use of “animal alternatives”. The concept of alternatives is embodied in what has come to be referred to as the “3 Rs”–Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement.

  1. Replacement –Substitution of other systems for animal use.
    PIs might consider the following questions:
    Can the hypothesis be tested in a protocol that uses cells, tissue, or organ culture?
    Might a chemical system or computer simulation provide a means for testing the hypothesis?
  2. Reduction –Decreasing the number of animals needed to yield statistically accurate and reliable outcomes.
    PIs might consider these questions:
    What is the minimum treatment difference necessary to demonstrate a biologically significant result?
    What might be a reasonable expectation for the range of variability in my animal subjects?
    These and related questions help focus the PI’s thinking on experimental designs aimed at utilizing the most appropriate number of animals. The IACUC encourages PIs to consult with a statistician for help in discerning the appropriate animal sample size. The PI’s protocol must provide the IACUC with a clear and logical statement of the process s/he used in specifying the specific number of animals to be used in their protocol.
  3. Refinement –Efforts used to eliminate or minimize animal pain or distress.
    Some questions the PIs might consider:
    May appropriate analgesics and/or anesthetic agents be used without confounding the experiment?
    Might it be possible to choose an “end-point” other than the death of the animal in order to minimize pain and distress?
    Might the current sampling or surgical technique(s) be modified or replaced in order to minimize pain and distress?
    The IACUC encourages PIs to consult with a veterinarian for help in discerning possible refinements.

Meetings Calendar

Last day to submit requests for review   

Committee Meetings   

Thursday January 11, 2024   

Thursday January 25, 2024   

Thursday February 1, 2024   

Thursday February 15, 2024   

Thursday March 7, 2024   

Thursday March 21, 2024   

Thursday April 4, 2024   

Thursday April 18, 2024   

Thursday May 2, 2024   

Thursday May 16, 2024   

Thursday June 6, 2024   

Thursday June 20, 2024  

Get in touch with us:

Mailing Address

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Decanato de Estudios Graduados e Investigación (DEGI)
P.O. Box 21790
San Juan, PR 00931-1790

Contact Us

Phone : (787) 764-0000 

  • Ext. 86700 (Reception)
  • Ext. 86718 (Office)


Physical Address

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Decanato de Estudios Graduados e Investigación (DEGI)
Edif. Hogar Masónico

av. Ponce de León
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Recinto de Río de Piedras

IACUC Members
Giovanni Tirado Santiago, PhD Chairperson
Héctor M. Rivera Claudio, BBA Non-affiliated Member
Javiera Almeyda Loucil, MIS Non-scientific Member
Carla Restrepo, PhD Scientific Member
José Luis Santiago Jaime, DMV Attending Veterinarian
Iván Olivo Maldonado, MIS Ex Officio Member
Nabila Fonseca Cardona, BA Assistant
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