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Emory Board of Trustees Statement of Support for Research with Animals

(Original version endorsed December 1986 by the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Board; Adopted September 10, 1987, by the Emory University Board of Trustees. Revised Position Statement Approved by the Executive Committee of the Emory University Board of Trustees on January 11, 2007.)

Emory University is firmly committed to discovering knowledge that will lead to the treatment and cure of disease and physical injury. Insofar as the discovery of knowledge through scientific research often involves animals, Emory is also committed to the highest ethical standards in the care of animal subjects. It is the policy of Emory University to adhere conscientiously to all of the humane standards set by the Animal Welfare Act (United States Department of Agriculture/USDA), the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the Standards of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), whose certification is regarded as the gold seal of approval for laboratory animal care, and the policies of the Emory University Board of Trustees.

Emory University is equally committed to protecting the rights of scientists and scholars who use animals in research. While upholding the right to free speech and protest, Emory cannot abide acts of violence or intimidation that threaten, harass, or injure members of the Emory community, including those engaged in research. The ethical treatment of animals must be balanced by the ethical treatment of the human researchers who devote their lives to inquiry and to finding treatments and cures for diseases.

The decision to use animals in studies at Emory University is neither arbitrary nor abstract, for our experience demonstrates that both animals and humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of biomedical and behavioral research. The need for the use of animals in biomedical and behavioral research has not diminished. While significant advances have been made, cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, birth defects and other diseases of the young, diseases of the eyes and kidneys, and neurodegenerative diseases still ravage the world's population. Continued progress in the battle against the medical problems faced by animals and humans requires continued animal research.

Virtually all scientists recognize the vital necessity of animals in research for the continued advancement of human and animal health and welfare. Major medical advances that have resulted from animal research include the treatment of rabies, smallpox, pellagra, and rickets and the discovery of sulfa drugs, penicillin, and other modern antibiotics. Other benefits include: isolation of insulin and treatment of diabetes; the prevention of whooping cough, poliomyelitis, rubella, and measles; the introduction of cancer chemotherapy, open-heart surgery, and organ transplants.

Current research involving animals is enabling progress toward the successful treatment of AIDS, neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and hypertension, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, eye-related diseases, and a number of virus- and bacteria-caused diseases. Furthermore, such research enhances the development of vaccines, prostheses, and transplant surgery. Indeed, animals too have been helped by animal research producing such benefits as surgical rehabilitation procedures, artificial joints, and vaccines against various animal diseases.

The biomedical community shares with the public at large a concern for the ethical use of animals in research. After it has been determined that alternative methods such as cell culture and computer models cannot effectively be used, a conscious decision is made to use laboratory animals in research.

When researchers at Emory use animals to gain medical knowledge, consideration is given to the appropriateness of experimental procedures as well as the species and number of animals used. To ensure such consideration, the President of the University, in accordance with Public Health Service and USDA guidelines and regulations, has appointed an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to oversee the humane treatment of animals used in research, teaching, and education. The committee must include at least one veterinarian, one member not affiliated with Emory, a scientist experienced in research involving animals, and a nonscientist. Emory surpasses these basic requirements by appointing more than one veterinarian, several nonaffiliated/community members, and several non-scientists to the IACUC. This committee reviews all proposals for animal studies to be carried out under Emory's aegis and either approves, disapproves, or requires modifications before a study can begin. Particular attention is paid to husbandry and the assurance of adequate veterinary care. The IACUC also inspects Emory's animal facilities and laboratories at least twice yearly for compliance with approved standards. The IACUC is authorized to suspend any activity that does not meet University standards.

All of us now enjoy longer and more productive lives as a result of biomedical and behavioral research programs. Animal research has been an inseparable part of that progress, and Emory University is committed to its ethical continuation to ensure that further progress is made.