Northwestern Office for Research

Animal User Manual

This manual provides important information to investigators and their staff regarding the humane care and use of animals involved in research at Northwestern University. It includes information on husbandry, procurement/receiving/census, veterinary and training services, as well as guidance and policy information on regulatory aspects of working with animals in research.




Helpful Information for Grant Submissions Involving Animals

General: The Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM) supports the research, testing and teaching activities of Northwestern University faculty using animals. CCM provides and oversees the humane care and use of animals, houses research animals and maintains support space and services for the use of Northwestern University faculty using animals. CCM provides training in the care and use of animals, and supports the activities of the NU Animal Care and Use Committee. There are vivarium facilities on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses totaling 100,141 square feet of animal housing and support space. Both campuses contain barrier, conventional and containment housing for rodents as well as conventional housing for some large animal species. Quarantine facilities for rodents are located on the Evanston campus. In each suite for housing animals there are procedure rooms available for researcher use. CCM employs approximately 88 fulltime staff which supports animal care activities at the University. CCM staff is separated into the following units: Animal Husbandry (50), Quality Assurance and Training (5), Business Office and Support Staff (18) and Veterinary staff (6 veterinarians and 8 Animal Health Technicians: total 14). All units report to Lisa Forman, DVM, Diplomate of ACLAM, Executive Director and Attending Veterinarian.

Veterinary care and oversight: Animal facility staff members are trained to recognize common clinical signs in the animals under their care. The Animal Care Technicians (ACTs) are responsible for checking the health of all animals daily. When an ACT finds a rodent with an apparent illness or other abnormality, the observation is documented at the cage level; the cage is identified for further review with a green Rodent Health Report card. Veterinary staff members conduct daily rounds of the animal facilities during regular work hours and on Saturdays and Sundays veterinary staff members are on site for approximately 4 hours.

When an ACT finds a large animal with a health disorder or a small animal with significant clinical signs, s/he immediately notifies the appropriate member of the veterinary staff to evaluate the animal. All research personnel are encouraged to report abnormal signs in their animals to CCM personnel.

CCM has developed a Standard of Care (SOC) program. This program allows researchers to preapprove their rodents to be treated for a list of common rodent health issues when they arise. CCM veterinary staff members are able to immediately treat the rodents for those researchers that have preapproved the SOC program and for those rodents diagnosed with common health issues without notifying the researcher first. The majority of CCM rodent users have preapproved the SOC program. Investigators that have not preapproved the SOC program are notified first of any health issues prior to treatments being initiated. All health findings and treatment actions are communicated to the research staff.

The veterinary staff ensures that observations, medical and laboratory findings, treatments and any follow up care are recorded in the medical records for large animals and in Rodent Health Reports for rodents. Other trained CCM staff and investigators/research teams may assist in the health observations, testing, treatment, and documentation as needed. Health findings are communicated by email and in some cases by phone or in person also, to the PI and laboratory personnel. Health issues with frogs are handled similarly to rodents.

CCM and research staffs share responsibility for maintaining individual medical records of cats, dogs, NHPs, pigs, and rabbits. Documentation may include clinical laboratory findings, diagnosis, treatments, medical progress and surgical procedures. All medical records are electronic using the DVMax electronic medical record system.  Computers are available for entering medical record findings in the large animal suites. For rodent species, the Rodent Health Reports and medical records are generated as needed and filed in the AHT office area.

Based on a rotating schedule, the veterinarians are available for animal emergencies during nonbusiness hours. With oversight from the veterinarians, the AHTs are responsible for the daily operation of the surgical facility, preventative animal disease program, diagnostic testing, operation of the diagnostic xray and postoperative care.

  1. USDA registration number: 33R0129
  2. Requests for the most recent USDA inspection report should be sent to
  3. PHS Assurance number: A328301
  4. AAALAC International File Number: 000602; first accredited October 9, 1985; CCM continues to maintain full AAALAC accreditation.
  5. Large Animal Surgery Capabilities: CCM has two fully operational large animal survival surgery suites. Standard and specialized equipment for surgical procedures in the CCM surgical suites include: anesthesia machines, anesthesia monitoring units (pulse oxymeter, direct and indirect blood pressure monitor, end tidal CO2 monitor, EKG unit), ventilators, an infusion pump, intravenous line warmer, defibrillator (external and internal paddles) rectal thermometer probes, Bovie cauterizing unit, portable and digital Xray machine, fluoroscope, recirculating water heating blankets, stereotactic device for primates and a glass bead sterilizer.
  6. Radiology Capabilities: A digital xray system, portable xray machine and a fluoroscope.
  7. Necropsy Facilities: In the Lurie and Pancoe vivarium the necropsy rooms are equipped with a down draft necropsy table with water flush and particle trap, folding table, biosafety cabinet class II type A and a dissection counter.
  8. Histology Services: Are available to CCM through the Mouse Pathology Phenotyping Core (Northwestern University), Skin Diseases Research Center (NU-SDRC) – Morphology and Phenotyping Core (Northwestern University), Idexx Laboratories, Charles River Laboratories, Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (RADIL) and Taconic.
  9. Diagnostic Laboratory Services: Rodent sentinel health monitoring is performed primarily by Charles River Laboratories with usage of the Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (RADIL) on a case by case basis. Large animal diagnostic testing is performed by Idexx Veterinary Services (Elmhurst, IL), Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA), and Bioreliance (Rockville, MD).
  10. Quarantine Facilities: Used to quarantine rodents obtained from non commercial sources.
  11. Containment Facilities: Centralized containment facilities are located on both Evanston and Chicago campuses for housing rodents administered biosafety level 2 hazards. Also, satellite containment facilities exist for biosafety level 3 hazards.
  12. Transgenic Facilities: The Transgenic and Targeted Mutagenesis Laboratory (TTML), in a collaborative effort with the CCM, provide pathogen free rederivation and cryopreservation services of mouse strains for investigators at Northwestern University.
  13. A 'Unit L', managed by the Office for Research Safety (ORS), is available for rodent irradiation.
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