Animal Research Guidance

  • Reopening research involving the use of animal subjects must involve strong collaboration, communication and coordination between researchers and the Office of Animal Resources.
  • The health and safety of study teams, OAR animal care and veterinary staff, and animal subjects remain the priority.
  • Researchers using animals must follow all University of Iowa and Public Health guidance for social distancing as much as possible.
  • The situation remains fluid and researchers must be prepared for the possibility that we may need to ramp down research activities again in the future.
  • COVID-19 research will continue to be prioritized and exempt from research restrictions

These guidelines remain in effect as of March 9, 2021 and until further notice. 

General Guidance

  • Specific research proposals to resume IACUC-approved studies are NOT required.
  • Some limitations on animal orders, undergraduate student access, breeding and transfers remain in place; see specific guidance below
  • Animal shipment arrival times may take longer than under normal conditions; orders may need to be staggered while ramping up animal receiving and housing capacity.

Entering and working in the animal facility

  • NO undergraduate staff entry into animal facilities*
    • If you are an undergraduate student employee that forms an integral part of a research program on campus, please email: oar-veterinarian@uiowa.edu with your lab’s approved return to campus plan, detailing your duties and departmental approval to be on-campus. 
    • This request will be evaluated by an OAR veterinarian.
    • Limiting undergraduate student access to an animal facility is imperative to decrease staff populations within an animal room
  • Signage will be posted to indicate requirements to enter and work in each facility
  • Research Staff access
    • Each lab must designate 2 primary lab members to enter animal facilities at any one time to conduct studies in the facility or remove animals to the lab
  • Required PPE to enter/work in the animal facility
    • Face shield and/or face mask must be worn at all times as prescribed by the CIMT
    • Face shield must be in good repair/condition and clean
    • If entering a barrier animal facility
      • Face shield must be cleaned prior to entry into the animal facility if any potential exposure to rodents was possible
        • Face shields may be cleaned in the lab or building face shield cleaning stations prior to entry
      • Face masks must be changed/replaced prior to entry into the animal facility if any potential exposure to rodents was possible
      • Examples
        • Staff member entering the facility was conducting animal experiments outside the barrier animal facility using the currently worn face shield and/or mask
        • Other staff in the lab space was conducting animal experiments with rodents
  • Face shield and/or facemask provided by the lab cannot be worn in biocontainment animal holding rooms (ABSL2) or biocontainment procedural spaces
    • OAR provided PPE must be worn to access/enter these locations
    • Hang your face shield and/or facemask on a hook provided by the PPE stations
    • Label your face shields or facemask to prevent confusion
    • Consult with a facility supervisor if you have questions
  • Social distancing directives must be followed
    • OAR staff, including but not limited to husbandry and veterinary staff, have priority to enter and work in animal rooms or procedural spaces to maintain compliance with sanitation standards and animal program requirements
      • A calendar is posted outside animal rooms and procedural spaces to schedule access times
      • Limited staff (OAR and/or research staff) must be present in animal rooms or procedural spaces
      • Maximum/no more than 2 staff members per room at any time
      • Some small animal rooms or procedural spaces may only accommodate 1 person at a time
        • Per CIMT guidance, rooms that are 150 sq. ft or less can only have one person working within the space
        • OAR will post a notice on these rooms to alert staff and note when OAR staff is actively working in the room
    • If a staff member is not able to follow these social distancing guidelines, the staff member cannot enter animal/procedural rooms when other research staff or OAR staff are present inside/within them

Study and Cohort Prioritization

  • COVID-19 research will continue to be prioritized and exempt from research restrictions.
  • Length of studies
    • No restriction on length of studies being conducted
  • Use of Cores
    • Limited use of Core services (ex: Metabolic Phenotyping Core, Small Animal Imaging Core (SAIC)
    • Use and capacity at the discretion of Core directors
  • Hazard work
    • Non-survival and Survival Hazard work may be conducted
  • Surgery
    • Non-survival surgery and Survival surgery may be conducted
  • Animal Housing
    • Satellite housing in IACUC approved spaces allowed
  • ​​​​​​​Animal orders*
    • Animal orders for replacement breeders (those needed to cross with unique transgenic lines) will continue to be prioritized
    • New animal cohort orders allowed
    • Animal order receiving capacity limited to 100% of pre-ramp down average weekly orders per facility 
      • Order numbers will be determined by facility
      • Order arrival dates may be delayed if receiving capacity per facility is reached
      • Approval to order animals is not needed; orders will be taken on a first-come, first served basis
    • Return to standard procedures for animal orders for incoming USDA covered species*
  • Breeding restrictions
    • Current breeding restrictions in place
      • Suspension of breeding commercially available animals continues
      • Breeding colonies for unique strains continues on reduced numbers as much as possible to maintain line viability
      • Limited breeding of unique lines to produce experimental animals
    • Breeding to generate embryos for study allowed
      • Generation and harvest of fish and frog embryos for study allowed
      • Generation of other species embryos for study allowed
      • Approval not required
  • Animal transfers
    • Animal transfers to other investigators, rooms or facilities allowed
    • Prior approval required for transfers between non-barrier animal facilities and rooms as standard
    • Return to standard procedures for animal transfers for USDA covered species*
      • Prior approval required
      • Email Drs. Jim Sheets and Maria Martino-Cardona for approval
  • Inter-institutional animal shipments
    • Priority will continue to be given to new PIs relocating to our institution or labs with approved COVID-19 research
    • Limited housing capacity for incoming quarantine shipments
    • Animal exports to other institutions allowed
      • Prior approval not required  
  • Training labs, tours
    • Limited facility training tours
    • Limited OAR managed or supported training labs
  • Drug/supply orders
    • Drug/supply orders reinstated

NOTE: The Office of Animal Resources continues to have limited administrative staff on site; the main office doors will remain closed.  Do not hesitate to ask questions by phone or email. 

IACUC staff will be primarily working remotely but will continue reviewing protocols and amendments. You may call or e-mail IACUC as needed, using our regular office phone numbers unless otherwise directed. IACUC meetings will continue as normally scheduled, by teleconference if needed. 

If your protocol is close to expiring, you will need to renew it prior to its expiration. Animals on an expired protocol cannot undergo any procedures or experiments. Animals on an expired protocol are transferred to the IACUC Holding Protocol, where they can receive standard husbandry and care as well as any medically necessary treatments to support animal with phenotypic conditions.