The animal research process involves a series of steps designed to ensure scientific value, humane care and compliance with regulations.
Federal funding agencies include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. These granting agencies are overseen by the federal government, which allocates funding resources according to Canada’s research priorities.
Health Canada requires animal models must be used to assess new medical treatments and therapies before any human clinical trials may be conducted.
The UBC Animal Care Committee (ACC) oversees all aspects of animal research at UBC. This includes ethical review as well as approval and monitoring of animal research procedures, conditions and facilities. Researchers submit detailed protocols (formal descriptions of investigative methods) to the ACC for consideration. No animal work of any type can be done without Committee approval.
Researchers must prove to the ACC that techniques such as use of computer models or cell cultures cannot produce the necessary answers to the specified scientific questions. Proposed procedures must also meet current national standards of humane animal care and use as few animals as possible.
UBC subscribes to the 3Rs principles of animal use: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Researchers must continually scrutinize project design, refine procedures and use new technologies with the aim of replacing research animals with non-animal methods, reducing numbers of animals used and improving techniques to minimize animal stress.
In addition, the ACC focuses on qualifications and abilities of those caring for and using research animals. All personnel involved in animal work must complete federally mandated animal care training courses, including practical labs. If the ACC approves a research project, a four-year compliance certificate is issued. It must be reviewed annually to ensure compliance with federal regulations set out by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). If the project extends beyond four years, researchers must submit a new proposal to the Committee to continue the project.
The ACC comprises 15-25 members including a veterinarian, representatives from departments that use research animals and from those that do not, and from the general public. The Committee meets 12-18 times per year and conducts annual site visits to each animal care facility. There are 22 UBC animal care facilities.
The Committee reports to the UBC Vice President, Research and International.
ACC processes are reviewed once every three years as part of the CCAC audit of UBC’s animal research program.
More information on the ACC may be found at: www.acc.ubc.ca.
CCAC information may be found at: www.ccac.ca.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) is the national organization responsible for setting and maintaining standards for the care and use of animals in science in Canada.
The Government of Canada authorizes and empowers the Council to inspect and certify animal care programs at all Canadian universities, on behalf of the public.
The CCAC audits UBC’s animal research program once every three years, looking at animal care compliance, facilities and proper functioning of the Committee itself. The UBC program is fully accredited.
Participation in CCAC programs, including training programs, is not voluntary. UBC must be accredited by the CCAC to receive funding from the federal government, which funds most university research in Canada. If the University fails to comply with the guidelines the Council has legal authority to immediately suspend animal care and research programs.
Translated into six languages, CCAC standards for humane animal research are considered the international gold standard for animal care.
More information on the CCAC may be found at: www.ccac.ca.
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