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Northwestern Office for Research
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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.