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

Effective March 26, 2021

General Guidance

  • Some limitations on animal orders 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 managing animal receiving and housing capacity.
  • OAR is experiencing a significant personnel shortage that is impacting the workload of our animal husbandry staff. Recruiting and hiring have been challenging during the pandemic and continue during the early stages of the recovery. Please be patient as we try to fill our open positions and maintain the health and welfare of the research animals as our top priority.

Entering and working in the animal facility

  • 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 mask must be worn at all times 
    • If entering a barrier animal facility
      • Face masks must be changed/replaced prior to entry into the animal facility if any potential exposure to rodents was possible, e.g, staff member was conducting animal experiments or was in proximity to other staff conducting animal experiments before entering the barrier animal facility
  • 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
    • Consult with a facility supervisor if you have questions
  • Social distancing directives are suspended but the following guidelines remain in effect:
    • 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) should be present in animal rooms or procedural spaces
      • Maximum/no more than 2 staff members per room at any time when OAR staff are also working in the room.

Study and Cohort Prioritization

  • Length of studies
    • No restriction on length of studies being conducted
  • Use of Cores
    • 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
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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  
  4. labs, tours
    • Limited capacity for training tours
    • Limited capacity OAR managed or supported training labs
  5. orders
    • Drug/supply orders reinstated

NOTE: The Office of Animal Resources administrative staff can provide assistance as needed. 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.