UCSF Responds to Concerns About Animal Research Program

November 27, 2012

Responding to concerns about its animal research program, UCSF leaders are emphasizing that the University “takes very seriously its responsibility to treat animals used in biomedical research humanely.”

“We share the public’s concerns for animal welfare and are committed to the responsible and humane care of our research animals,” said Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, vice chancellor and provost. “Beyond the dictates of laws and regulations, we recognize that laboratory animals are living creatures to be treated with care and compassion.”

Assessment of animal research at UCSF is carried out daily by a team of veterinarians and technicians, as well as compliance specialists who randomly audit research protocols and visit laboratories, according to Barbara J. French, vice chancellor for Strategic Communications and University Relations.

Their findings are submitted to UCSF’s Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which includes physicians, experienced research faculty, public citizens, veterinarians and compliance staff dedicated to ensuring high standards.

Since 2005, UCSF’s animal care team has found some incidents in which care did not meet the University’s standards. Those incidents, and two identified by a U.S Department of Agriculture inspector, were reported with varying degrees of accuracy in a recent news story.

All violations identified by UCSF and the USDA were addressed quickly. Those that were identified by UCSF were self-reported to the U.S. Organization of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), French said. As the records indicated, UCSF’s corrective actions were noted and accepted upon re-inspection by OLAW.

“Whenever we have identified a problem, our team has made every effort to address the situation as quickly and effectively as possible, and to work with the laboratory to retrain staff and prevent a recurrence,” French said.

The University has maintained Full Accreditation from the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) since 2004, which recognizes the highest ethical standards for the care and study of animals.

French said that the University is constantly working to uphold the policies and practices that reflect its respect and care for all animals in the pursuit of a better understanding of diseases and medical breakthroughs to treat them.

“As a scientific community, we are committed to developing new approaches that will use technology and cell-based research to reduce the necessity of the use of laboratory animals,” she said.