Academic Health Sciences Librarians' Contributions to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees*[dagger]

By Steelman, Susan C.; Thomas, Sheila L. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2014 | Go to article overview

Academic Health Sciences Librarians' Contributions to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees*[dagger]


Steelman, Susan C., Thomas, Sheila L., Journal of the Medical Library Association


INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study was to gather descriptive information about two types of activities performed by academic health sciences librarians working at libraries affiliated with medical schools accredited by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). One activity is participating as a member of the institutional animal use and care committee (IACUC); the other is providing literature searches and/or search consultations that support animal use protocols (AUPs) to researchers.

The published literature offers very little information about these activities. Many articles concerning librarians and institutional animal research or animal welfare consist of best-practice instructions for conducting database searches [1-3]. Osinski notes that, according to anecdotal evidence, few academic librarians are either serving on IACUCs or actively promoting their services to such committees [4]. There have been occasional individual accounts, such as Chilov's 2005 poster about activities at Columbia University Medical Center [5] and Lingle's report of being invited to serve as the nonscientific member of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine IACUC [6].

An IACUC is the primary oversight mechanism for animal care and use, responsible through an institutional officer for and reporting directly to regulatory and granting agencies on animal care and use matters [7]. The US Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals states that institutions or organizations supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, awards, or contracts must establish a committee to oversee their animal care program [8]. The Animal Welfare Act Regulations (AWAR), enacted in 1989 and implemented and enforced by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), mandate that research institutions maintain a committee composed of at least three members that is charged with the responsibility for ensuring that the facility is in full compliance with the act [8]. Most US institutions engaged in animal research now have a single committee that satisfies both PHS and USDA requirements. Many IACUCs consist of six to ten members; in academic institutions, the number is often larger [8]. IACUC member activities include voting on AUPs at meetings, conducting site visits, and attending educational sessions. At the authors' institution, a librarian participates as a full committee member.

The USDA Animal Care Policy Manual describes twenty policies regarding animal use. Of particular relevance to librarians is ''Policy 12: Consideration of Alternatives to Painful/Distressful Procedures.'' Policy 12 states that investigators must consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to animals and provide a written narrative of the methods used and sources consulted to determine the availability of alternatives. The policy also states that the USDA ''continues to recommend a database search as the most effective and efficient method for demonstrating compliance with the requirement to consider alternatives'' [9].

Investigators who are planning a new project prepare AUPs for review by the IACUC. There is no standard AUP form that is used for all US research institutions, although the protocols have common elements. Among the common elements are a description of the purpose and methods involved in the project, justifications for the number and species of animals used, and statements indicating that the published literature has been consulted to identify ways in which animal pain and/or distress could be reduced or eliminated, in accordance with policy 12.

At some biomedical research institutions, including the authors' employer, a librarian who serves on the IACUC is tasked with reviewing the database selection and search strategies used in every protocol submitted for IACUC approval. Reference librarians at the authors' institution also perform mediated searches for investigators to support AUPs. …

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Academic Health Sciences Librarians' Contributions to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees*[dagger]
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