Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Question 1: I submitted my protocol in April. Why is it only tabled for IACUC review 2 months later in June and not in April or May?
Answer: This depends on when in April you made the submission. IACUC meetings are scheduled on the third Monday of each month (unless it falls on a public holiday). That day is also the submission deadline for the next IACUC meeting (i.e. the submission deadline for the May 2021 IACUC meeting will be 19 April 2021 if the IACUC meeting was held on 19 April 2021). Therefore, if the application was submitted after the deadline (i.e. 19 April 2021) for review at the May meeting, the protocol will only be reviewed at the June IACUC meeting, even if the submission was made in April (because it was received after the 19 April deadline).
Please refer here for protocol submission deadline dates to ensure timely submissions.
Question 2: I wish to submit a new application to continue with a project (e.g. to complete some remaining experiments) on an expiring protocol. What should be described in the new application to facilitate this project’s renewal/continuation’?
Answer: When submitting a new application to continue with a project, the following information is to be provided in section 5.1 of the animal research form:
(a) A summary of the work that had been completed in the previous protocol.
(b) What experiments / groups have not been completed, and will be completed in this new protocol, RXX-XXXX.
(c) An updated calculation and or design of the experimental groups.
(d) Number of animals that will be transferred to this protocol to fulfill the project’s continuation.
It is recommended that a renewal protocol be submitted at least 2 months before the current protocol expires. Reminders will be emailed 3 months, and 1 month before the expiry date of the current (expiring) protocol to renew it.
Question 3: Where can I find information about Procedural SOPs, facility equipment, and other CM information to help with writing my protocol?
Answer: CM SOP’s applicable to IACUC protocols, facility equipment available for animals in a protocol, and other information on CM-related services can be found on the CM website at: https://cm.nus.edu.sg/
To obtain access to CM’s website, email: email@example.com and include the requestor’s name, NUS user ID, and the protocol number (either approved or in process).
Question 1: I have been using Non-Pharmaceutical Grade substances (NPGs) in my research. Why can’t I continue using them now?
Answer: As part of the on-going process in ensuring that NUS IACUC continues to comply with the NACLAR Guidelines and the Guide, 8th Edition, the IACUC regularly reviews its Policies and Guidelines. The policy on “Use of Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Grade Substances in Animal Research” was last reviewed in February 2021. Pharmaceutical‐grade substances (PGs), when available, must be used to avoid toxicity or side effects that may compromise the health and welfare of vertebrate animals or may interfere with the interpretation of research results unless there are valid scientific justification(s).
Please refer to the latest IACUC policy on “Use of Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Grade Substances in Animal Research” here for more information and other commonly asked questions on the use of PGs.
Question 2: I wish to increase the number of animals to my approved protocol. How do I do this and what is the expected time-frame?
Answer: An amendment must be submitted via the iORC to add animals to an approved protocol. If not more than 20% of the approved number for a species is to be added, the amendment will be reviewed through the IACUC Designated Review process on an as-needed basis in which the amendment does not have to be reviewed at the monthly IACUC quorate meeting and will instead be reviewed by at least two IACUC members. Designated Reviewers may, at any time and at their discretion, escalate an amendment to the IACUC quorate for its review.If more than 20% of the approved number for a species is to be added, the amendment will be reviewed during the monthly IACUC quorate meeting. The time for approval therefore depends on factors such as the number of animals to be added, the comments from IACUC Reviewers on the amendment request, the reason for adding the animals to approved experiments and the time the amendment was received by the IACUC Office.
Question 3: Can I breed wild-type mice e.g C57BL/6 or BALB/c mice in NUS?
Answer: NUS researchers are strongly discouraged to breed wild-types strains (e.g. C57BL/6 and BALB/c) and commercially available strains (e.g. atyhmic and NSG) in CM unless there are strong scientific justifications, which must be provided in the protocol.
In addition, over time the genotype of wild type mice bred in-house drifts from those of the vendor animals. This may prevent them from serving as appropriate control animals, or may result in results not able to be replicated by colleagues.
Question 4: While completing section 1.2 of the procedure B form, I noticed that we will have to submit samples of the biological agents used in my protocol to CM for either pathogen testing or exemption from testing. Can my protocol be approved while I am waiting for the results from CM?
Answer: No. The protocol can be approved only after the biological agents have either been exempted from testing or approval has been obtained from CM for their use in the protocol. PIs can refer to CM SOP 605 Biological Material Screening for Rodent Pathogens for more information.
For biological material requiring testing, the approval can only be completed only after PI submit the biological material for testing to CM, and the result is received by CM from the dedicated lab.
Training and veterinary
Question 1: How long is the typical waiting time for RCULA training on mice handling skills for new members of the lab? There seems to be no clear timeframe given, particularly during the pandemic.
Answer: Tentative training schedule for the year is posted in IACUC website: https://nus.edu.sg/research/iacuc/training
Please note that as a result of the pandemic, there may be periodic restrictions on training so that we can follow NUS safety requirements. Based on the requirements, training activities may sometimes be put on-hold for certain period of times.
For the safety of the trainee and trainer, the number of registrants per class has been reduced for each session; and only selected space is approved for hands-on training sessions due to the size and other safety measures. This would increase the waiting time.
As training is conducted by CM, for further questions please send your enquiry via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The CM Training Coordinator will be able to advise you on the approximate waiting time for the Species Specific hands-on training and Aseptic Surgery hands-on training.
Question 2: I have some veterinary questions related to my experimental setup which I would like to discuss with the vets. Can I contact the vets and if so, how do I contact them?
Answer: Yes. For PIs/researchers who have animals housed in the facility, please contact the primary CM Veterinarian covering the area where the animals are housed for veterinary related questions (e.g adverse phenotype, animal monitoring, euthanasia, anaesthesia, antibiotics, analgesia regime and/or early euthanasia criteria; surgical procedures, other procedures on animals and techniques, etc.) when writing protocol, renewal, amendment etc.
The vet list and their contact information are posted in each area of the animal facility (by Pod/ floor/ areas). Additionally, the contact information of all the CM veterinarians is also available on the CM website.
For new PIs/ researchers, please contact Comparative Medicine at email@example.com for questions (e.g. animal housing, imaging, procedure/ veterinary related (including surgery, anesthesia, other technique), procurement; or other animal related services etc.) relating to animal procedures and care, including for the purpose of protocol writing.
Question 1: Either my team members or me will be involved in animal work at another institution or working on non-NUS animals in my lab in NUS. Is there anything we should take note of?
Answer: IACUC discourages the movement of personnel across different animal use facilities for biosecurity reasons. Please ensure that the following are addressed in section 2.3 of the animal research form.
- The person(s), the institution, and the animal species involved
- The frequency of visits to non-NUS facilities
- The schedule of visits between facilities
- Why working in multiple animal facilities cannot be avoided (such as splitting of assignments amongst team members)
- The duration (i.e. temporary such as for training purposes, or for the duration of the protocol). If temporary, list dates when this will take place.
- Any equipment that will be moved between facilities.
Question 2: My collaborators will be visiting my lab and I intend to bring them to the animal housing facility. Are there any requirements which they will have to fulfil before they could enter the facility?
Answer: Yes. For visitor Please refer to IACUC policy on “Entering, working and visiting NUS Animal Facilities” here for your compliance.
Movement of animals out of CM/NUS
Question 1: Can I bring animals from CM vivarium to my lab for experimental work?
Answer: The transport of live animals outside CM vivarium is discouraged but researchers will be allowed to do so if scientific justifications have been provided in the protocol and approved by OSHE and IACUC. Please note that the lab/procedure room must be inspected and approved by IACUC prior to bringing animals into the lab/procedure room.
Question 2: I wish to transfer animals from NUS to A*STAR. May I know what is the procedure? And for overseas transfers?
Answer: Please email CM Animal shipment firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for the export of the animals overseas or the transfer of animals to other local institutions. Please also notify the IACUC office of your intention to transfer animals overseas or to other local institutions by sending an email to the IACUC office email@example.com
If animals are to be transferred to another institution for work to be carried out at that institution while still on the NUS protocol, an amendment must be submitted and IACUC approval from NUS and the receiving institution must be obtained prior to the transfer of the animals.
Question 1: Who are the members of the IACUC? Is my Department represented? Can I approach one of the IACUC members for help?
Answer: The IACUC quorate is made up of veterinarians from CM, scientists and non-scientists from NUS, and non-affiliated residents of the community. The scientists are from various Departments across Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the Faculty of Science and have extensive experience in animal experimentation.
Please contact IACUC Office directly if you need help.
Question 2: How do I seek help if I am writing a protocol and am not sure how to fill in a particular section or how much detail is needed?
Answer: Please do not hesitate to contact IACUC General Enquiries if you have any questions.
Question 3: How are protocols adjudicated? How many people view the protocol? Why do I need to wait for a full IACUC meeting to approve it if it is clear there are no remaining issues?
Answer: IACUC applications are categorised into one of the following:
- Major amendment
- Minor amendment
According to the National Advisory Committee for Laboratory Animal Research (NACLAR) Guidelines and NUS IACUC SOP, all full protocols and major amendments must be reviewed at a quorate meeting which must consists of more than 50% of the IACUC members with at least one member from the different categories (scientist, non-scientist, veterinarian and non-affiliated resident of the community). Hence, even if it appears that the protocol/major amendment has no issues following the pre-meeting review, there is still a need for it to be reviewed at a monthly quorate meeting.
For full protocols and major amendments, the IACUC Office will undertake an administrative review when it receives the application to ensure that the application is complete i.e. relevant procedure forms are submitted. The application will then be processed for a pre-meeting review. Applications that do not adequately address the pre-meeting questions will NOT be processed for review at the quorate meeting.
As per the NACLAR Guidelines, IACUCs are to review and approve, subject to modifications, or reject proposals for projects involving the use of animals for scientific purposes. This includes proposals to significantly change the care and use of animals involved in on-going projects (section 7.4.1 of NACLAR Guidelines). All proposals must be approved by IACUC at a quorate meeting (section 7.6.1 of NACLAR Guidelines). Hence, even if it appears that the protocol has no issues following the pre-meeting review, there is still a need for IACUC to review the application at a quorate meeting.