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IACUC Resources and Searching Tips

The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) is responsible for the oversight of animal care and use in various programs. This guide provides resources and searching tips related to IACUC protocols.


The Office of Research Compliance (ORC) assures the public that research at UH is performed responsibly and complies with federal, state, and university policies. Established in 2012, ORC provides support and services to the University of Hawai`i system of 10 campuses. The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) is responsible for the oversight and evaluation of the animal care and use program and its components. 

IACUC Protocol (Topaz)

The Topaz protocol form requires that you first perform a search for duplication. It is required that you perform a search in at least two databases to determine the work is not unnecessarily duplicated. To complete this step, it is advised to search from at least two of the databases listed on the following page, Searching for Alternatives.

When Database Searches for Alternatives are Required

A database search is required when your protocol involves USDA-covered species at Pain Categories D and E. You must conduct a literature search in at least two databases to demonstrate that:

  • the work is not unnecessarily duplicative of previously documented work
  • the fewest number of the lowest order of animals will be used to obtain valid results
  • alternatives to EACH potentially painful/distressful procedure proposed have been sought.

For more help with searching, see Searching for Alternatives.  

Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires minimum standards of care and treatment for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. The AWA was signed into law in 1966. It is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or animal care and use specifications, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard. The Act is enforced by USDA, APHIS, and Animal Care.  

--Adapted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Welfare Act page.

The 3 R's

The principles of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) were developed as a framework for humane animal research. They have subsequently become embedded in national and international legislation regulating the use of animals in scientific procedures. The 3Rs are increasingly seen as a framework for conducting high-quality science in the academic and industrial sectors with more focus on developing alternative approaches that avoid the use of animals. There are a number of reasons for this, including the need for better models and tools that more closely reflect human biology and predict the efficacy and safety of new medicines.

  • Replacement
    • Methods that avoid or replace the use of animals are defined as 'protected' under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, amended 2012 (ASPA) in an experiment where they would have otherwise been used. Protected animals are all living vertebrates (except humans), including some immature forms and cephalopods (e.g., octopus, squid, cuttlefish). 
  • Refinement
    • Methods that minimize the number of animals used per experiment or study, either by enabling researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals or to obtain more information from the same number of animals, thereby avoiding further animal use. Examples include improved experimental design and statistical analysis, sharing data and resources (e.g., animals and equipment) between research groups and organizations, and the use of technologies, such as imaging, to enable longitudinal studies in the same animals.
  • Reduction
    • Methods that minimize the pain, suffering, distress, or lasting harm that the animals may experience. Refinement applies to all aspects of animal use, from the housing and husbandry used to the scientific procedures performed on them. Examples of refinement include using appropriate anesthetics and analgesics, avoiding stress by training animals to cooperate with procedures such as blood sampling and providing animals with appropriate housing that allows the expression of species-specific behaviors, such as nesting opportunities for mice.

--Adapted from The National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research


Thank you to Yale University, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library for allowing us to use their IACUC: Searching for Alternatives guide as a template for our own.

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