Research Collaborate Lab Hall

Working with Animals at the Medical College of Wisconsin

Located within the Medical College of Wisconsin on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus, the Biomedical Resource Center (BRC) is a centralized 95,000 square foot facility that provides quality housing and care for the animals used in research throughout the college.

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) forms the foundation for effective self-regulation of animal care and use and is responsible for reviewing all protocols involving live vertebrate animals, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, inspecting animal facilities and laboratories, and overseeing training and educational programs.

MCW adheres to the guidelines for humane standards for the health and welfare of animals used for biomedical purposes as defined by the Animal Welfare Act and the Health Research Extension Act. By maintaining high standards of laboratory animal care and use, the Medical College of Wisconsin has remained continuously accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC) since 1968.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to be a Principal Investigator for animal research?

In order to be a Principal Investigator on an Animal Use Application, an individual must have a faculty or adjunct faculty appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

What kinds of animals can I use in my research?

The Medical College of Wisconsin supports research involving a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic species. For questions regarding a specific species, please contact the BRC, (414) 955-4209 to confirm what resources are available to support your research efforts at our facility.

Who do I contact about ordering or transporting animals?

All animal ordering and transportation arrangements are facilitated through the Biomedical Resource Center (BRC). Contact the BRC, (414) 955-4209, to help guide you through the specific process of obtaining your animals.

What approvals do I need?

All animal research activities must be submitted for review and approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) by creating an Animal Use Application (AUA) in eBridge. eBridge, our web-based system for research submissions, is accessible anywhere and at any time. The AUA must be approved prior to initiating the animal activities it describes.

If the animal activities incorporate human source material, please note that application and approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) may be required.

If the animal activities incorporate potentially hazardous agents, biological hazards, radiation and/or radioactive materials, or hazardous equipment (e.g. MRI), approval may be required by one or more of the safety subcommittees.    

These applications can be submitted simultaneously to the various committee(s) for review. However, it is important to note that the IACUC cannot render a final decision until all ancillary committee decisions are confirmed.

How long can I expect the approval process to take?
View our MCW Submission Processing Statistics web page for the latest summaries of processing times.
What can I do to streamline the approval process?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and the Biomedical Resource Center (BRC) will work with new investigators to facilitate a smooth transition to the Medical College of Wisconsin. Please submit the Animal Use Application (AUA) and other applications at your earliest convenience. Submitting these items early will allow the best opportunity for your research to hit the ground running when you arrive. Additional information is also available at the Animal Research Approval section of the Research Concierge website.

  • BRC veterinarian consultation is encouraged prior to new Animal Use Application (AUA) submissions.  Please contact the BRC, (414) 955-4209, to schedule a consultation with a veterinarian regarding various animal methodologies, including analgesic, anesthetic guidelines, blood collection, etc.
  • Initiate the Animal Use Application (AUA) in eBridge:
  • Obtain approval for any applicable Safety Committees:
    • Institutional Biosafety Committee
    • Hazardous Chemical Safety Committee
    • Radiation Safety Committee
    • MRI Safety Committee
  • Contact your department administrator to begin the process of transferring any possible grant funds to allow you to pay for any possible costs incurred for housing the animals once they arrive at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • Contact the BRC, (414) 955-4209, for any specific questions regarding the process of transferring animals (if any) to the Medical College of Wisconsin.
  • Complete the required Core Certification training
How is research monitored following approval?

After the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has approved an Animal Use Application (AUA), the IACUC has the responsibility to ensure that procedures are carried out in the laboratory as described in the AUA. The IACUC utilizes various methods for monitoring research activities following the approval:

  • Post Approval Monitoring (PAM)
  • Semi-Annual Program Review and Facility Inspection

Post Approval Monitoring (PAM)
Post Approval Monitoring (PAM) is the comparative review of the actual activities occurring under an approved AUA against the written AUA. PAM is essential in order to ensure:

  1. The well-being of animals involved in research and teaching activities
  2. That activities are conducted in compliance with regulations and standards of state and federal agencies, as well as the Medical College of Wisconsin's policies and standards
  3. That activities are consistent and conducted in compliance with IACUC-approved AUAs

The PAM program at the Medical College of Wisconsin has been designed with two major components.

  • An Investigator-initiated Self-Assessment - The Self-Assessment Checklist gives the Investigator the opportunity to review their laboratory procedures, staff, and AUA to verify that they are all still in compliance with IACUC approval, as well as providing them the opportunity to correct any deviations from that approval.
  • In-lab Monitoring Visit - The in-lab visit provides an opportunity for a comparison of the actual every day activities of an AUA with the written approved AUA.  This visit is primarily carried out by the Animal Research Compliance and Education Liaison, in the Office of Research, but may be carried out by any other appointed representative(s) of the IACUC. The Animal Research Compliance and Education Liaison will contact the Principal Investigator 30-60 days in advance to schedule routine in-lab visits. Unscheduled visits may occur without prior notice if an animal welfare concern has been reported.

In addition to the PAM program implemented by the Office of Research, the Biomedical Resource Center (BRC) veterinary staff conducts visits of laboratories that perform survival surgeries.

Semi-Annual Program Review and Facility Inspection
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is required by law to conduct a “Semi-Annual Program Review and Facility Inspection” once every 6 months.  As suggested by its name, the Semi-Annual consists of 2 parts:

  1. In-depth review of the institution’s program for the care and use of animals, including IACUC function and responsibilities, veterinary care program, occupational health and safety, and training of personnel.
  2. Physical inspection of all of the institution’s animal facilities, including areas where animals are housed greater than 12 hours and laboratories where surgery is performed.

The Semi-Annual at the Medical College of Wisconsin takes place in January/February and July/August.

What training is required?

The Animal Welfare Regulations and Public Health Service (PHS) Policy require institutions to ensure that people involved in the care or use of animals for research are qualified to do so, and this responsibility is fulfilled in part through the provision of training and instruction.

The Medical College of Wisconsin supports the position of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Public Health Service (PHS) with regards to training. As such, the Medical College Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) requires that all personnel working with animals, including animal care staff, veterinary staff, and IACUC members, complete Core Certification as well as training for technical skills applicable to their responsibilities.

Core Certification requirements have been established based on Federal Regulations and the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Assurance agreement with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) in order to ensure that all personnel using or caring for animals at this institution are qualified to do so.

Core Certification typically consists of 3 components:

  • Animal Care and Use Program Orientation Component
  • Occupational Health and Safety Component
  • Continuing Education (CE) Component

The first element of Core Certification is attendance at the Animal Care and Use Program Orientation. This orientation component is required for all new personnel and must be renewed by attending the refresher orientation every three years.

The second element is enrollment in the Occupational Health and Safety Program. Enrollment is accomplished by completing the Animal Contact Health Questionnaire online. This enrollment is required and must be updated on an annual basis.

The third element is Continuing Education (CE). For new employees and first time users, the required AALAS Learning Library online course is Working with the IACUC. Completion of an AALAS course is validated by passing the final exam. The CE component must be updated on an annual basis. You may select any AALAS Learning Library course you wish* for subsequent renewals, however, once a course has been completed, it may not be used for the next year’s renewal. Alternatively, you may substitute attendance at an in-house training session provided by the IACUC Office and/or the Biomedical Resource Center (BRC), or proof of attendance at an outside professional seminar or conference** with topics focusing on laboratory animal welfare, application of the 3 Rs (Replacement, Refinement, Reduction), or regulatory aspects of animal care and use.

Research personnel that are enrolled in the Occupational Health program at another institution (e.g. Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center) and receive training through their program may use this to fulfill the training requirements here at the Medical College of Wisconsin. If you fall within this category for training requirements, please notify the IACUC Office of your training status.

A comprehensive list of training opportunities for the animal researcher is available at MCW’s intranet webpage. Contact the Office of Research for this information. 

*The following AALAS Learning Library courses are NOT eligible for renewing the CE component: Study Skills; Taking an AALAS Technical Certification Examination; CMAR Certification Preparation.

**Proof of attendance will be accepted at the discretion of the IACUC Office based upon the approved IACUC standard regarding animal user training.

What resources and training are available?

Technical Training
The BRC offers a variety of resources for any staff member wishing to develop new technical skills or enhance his/her knowledge of animal handling and procedures. Personalized training may be arranged by contacting the BRC Training Coordinator, (414) 955-4209.

IACUC Essentials
The IACUC Office presents a series of optional interactive sessions throughout the year entitled IACUC Essentials. The IACUC Essentials focus on one or more features of animal research at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

eBridge Classroom Training for Animal Submissions
eBridge, our web-based system for research submissions, is accessible anywhere and at any time. Research Systems Training offers training sessions, both in the classroom and online, for navigating eBridge, with a focus on animal use submissions. They also offer several useful resources for researchers creating and amending submissions within eBridge.

Introductory eBridge training sessions are offered for Principal Investigators (PI) and Research Staff involved in animal research. The classes are held monthly in an instructional computer lab to allow a hands-on learning experience. The 1½ hour session focuses on how to create and edit an Animal Use Application (AUA), Animal Amendment (AA), Annual Renewal (AR) and 3 Year de novo Renewal AUA. Visit eBridge Training and review the section on Training for Animal Submissions for full details.

Please Note: The Online Basic Navigation is a prerequisite for the in-class session.

What are the relevant procedures and guidelines?

Medical College of Wisconsin Corporate Policies
The Medical College of Wisconsin’s office for Corporate Compliance maintains institutional policies pertaining to aspects of animal research.

IACUC Standards
The IACUC has developed internal standards and procedures to ensure that research is conducted in accordance with federal guidelines and current veterinary standards.

Biomedical Resource Center (BRC) Guidelines and Standards
The BRC has developed Guidelines and Standards for the Use of Animals in Research and Teaching to ensure that research is conducted in accordance with federal guidelines and current veterinary standards.

Contact the Office of Research for more information on these policies and guidelines. 

Who do I contact if I have animal welfare concerns?

Medical College of Wisconsin faculty, staff, and students may request institutional review of concerns about the care, use, or general welfare of animals used in the College’s research or teaching. MCW’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) will review, and, if warranted, investigate concerns involving the care and use of animals at our institution resulting from public complaints and from reports of non-compliance received from laboratory or research faculty.

In the event that there is a concern regarding animal welfare, please contact any of the following:

Individuals reporting concerns regarding animal welfare may remain anonymous; however, these individuals may choose to identify themselves in order to help provide further information about the situation. If an individual chooses to identify himself or herself, his/her confidentiality will be protected to the extent possible and permitted by law.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Questions regarding institutional policies relating to animal use or animal use application submission and review should be directed to the IACUC Office

Questions regarding the husbandry of the animals or regarding veterinary support for animal research should be directed to the BRC, (414) 955-4209.