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Columbia University in the City of New York Medical Research with Animals
Columbia University in the City of New York Medical Research with Animals
Medical Milestones
Animal-Based Research at Columbia
Significant Areas of Biomedical Research
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For the Record
Standards of Care
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Columbia University is one of the world’s most renowned research institutions. Research conducted at Columbia continues to lead to life-saving medical discoveries and the treatment of many debilitating diseases. Columbia recognizes its scientific and ethical duty to treat animals involved in research humanely, and requires that all faculty, staff and students involved in animal research maintain the highest standards of care.

Federal regulations require that institutions that conduct animal research maintain an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to review projects that involve animals, and to oversee the training of personnel and the maintenance of animal facilities. Columbia’s IACUC rigorously scrutinizes every section of a research and/or teaching protocol that involves animals and only approves the use of animals when satisfied that there are compelling reasons to do so. The IACUC only approves the use of animals when the information that will be gained is considered useful in saving human lives or treating disease and/or when the information cannot be gained without the use of animals.

The IACUC conducts regular inspections (at least once every six months) to ensure that research animals are receiving humane care and treatment, and that facilities are maintained to the required standards.

Columbia University also has a nationally recognized Institute of Comparative Medicine (ICM), which is directed by a veterinary specialist in comparative medicine, certified by the Board of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, and staffed by other veterinary specialists, veterinarian specialists in training and experienced animal care staff. The ICM works with the IACUC, and is responsible for veterinary care and the management and maintenance of all laboratory animal facilities. The ICM conducts a training program for veterinary specialists, as well as training courses in animal care and handling for research personnel.

Federal Regulations
Research involving animals is federally regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (7 U.S.C. 2131, seq.) and the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-158). These laws are administered and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) of the National Institutes of Health.

The USDA has issued extensive regulations under the Animal Welfare Act; in addition, OLAW requires all institutions that conduct animal research supported by the Public Health Service to comply with the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the PHS Policy).

Columbia University is registered with the USDA and submits an Assurance of Compliance with the PHS Policy to OLAW, and provides annual reports to both agencies.

USDA’s veterinary inspectors make unannounced inspections at least once a year. Special emphasis is paid to ensure appropriate care at every phase of animal research, from arrival to post-operative care, including:
  • Veterinary care
  • Daily observation and care of animals, including weekends and holidays
  • Maintenance of facilities, including food, water, bedding, sanitation, waste disposal and pest control
  • Animal identification, genetic monitoring and animal health records
  • Physical and social environment of the animals
  • Facility location, components, construction, management and operation
Facilities that do not meet the required standards are subject to enforcement actions by USDA and OLAW, including fines and suspension of the ability to conduct animal-based research.

Columbia University has achieved the gold standard for animal care—full accreditation—from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). AAALAC sets very strict standards, which are rigorously enforced by its inspectors.

Columbia University is committed to the humane care of animals in research and to ensuring that they are provided with appropriate veterinary care at every step of the research process. Columbia’s IACUC reviews and investigates public complaints involving the care and use of animals in its research facilities and reports of non-compliance received from facility personnel or employees. Anyone with concerns regarding the care and use of animals on campus is encouraged to report such concerns directly to the IACUC by calling 1-718-601-9104. Reports may be given anonymously.

Additional Resources
"If your goal is to understand disease and to improve therapy, you're left with no option. We all work to minimize the use of animals in our work, and we test as humanely and effectively as possible, but it's really the essential part of the work."

Dr. Robert Kass
Department Chair, Department of Pharmacology

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"The concept of cardiac catheterization was born here—animal research allowed the idea to become an applicable technique."

Dr. Eric A. Rose
Associate Dean for Translational Research and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University

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"The reason I and many of my colleagues work at medical schools is because basic science and animal models of disease are capable of having a major impact on medical care."

Dr. Eric Kandel
Nobel Prize Winner and Distinguished University Professor of Physiology and Cell Biophysics, Psychiatry, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University
© 2005 Columbia University