IACUC Veterinarians As Intermediaries

As a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine for the past 31 years, and an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) veterinarian on the committees of two institutions, I must take serious exception to your statement that "these IACUC veterinarians have the power to approve, disapprove, or demand significant change in experimental design and conduct" (R. Finn, The Scientist, May 26, 1997, page 1). I call your attention to the Public Health Policy on Humane Car

Sep 15, 1997
Edward Greenstein

As a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine for the past 31 years, and an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) veterinarian on the committees of two institutions, I must take serious exception to your statement that "these IACUC veterinarians have the power to approve, disapprove, or demand significant change in experimental design and conduct" (R. Finn, The Scientist, May 26, 1997, page 1).

I call your attention to the Public Health Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, Section IV B, "Functions of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee," pages 7-8, and 9CFR Ch.1, 2.31 Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, a United States Department of Agriculture document also known as the Animal Welfare Act. The powers you delegate to the IACUC vet are in fact the powers of the IACUC as a whole, whose members include: one DVM, one practicing scientist, one member whose primary concerns are in a nonscientific area, and one unaffiliated member.

These documents delegate the oversight of the humane treatment of animals to a committee that represents the scientists' peers, a laboratory animal veterinarian, a person who represents the institution's ethical concerns, and a member who is the voice of the community.

The IACUC veterinarian is the attending veterinarian, who is meant to be a colleague and helper to the principal investigator (P.I.). He or she should be an intermediary between the P.I. and the IACUC. At best the veterinarian should promote the P.I.'s cause before the IACUC; at worst he or she should help the P.I. modify the protocol to meet the requirements of society (that is, the IACUC). I do not think that this role is too much to expect from the "IACUC veterinarian."

Edward T. Greenstein
5224 Ampthill Dr.
Alexandria, Va. 22312
E-mail: etgreen@erols.com