About OACU

The Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU) welcomes you to the Intramural Animal Care and Use (ACU) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This website is intended to serve as an information resource for NIH scientists, Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) members, veterinarians, animal science specialists, and other NIH staff involved in the conduct of biomedical animal research here at NIH.

The OACU ensures NIH research programs and facilities for animal care and use are in compliance with federal regulatory requirements and standards, and maintain full accreditation with AAALAC, International.

Dr. Nina Schor, Deputy Director for Intramural Research, serves as the Institutional Official (IO) for the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) and delegates the daily oversight responsibilities to the Director, OACU. Twenty-five of 30 NIH components use animals in their intramural research programs. The ACU programs are directly overseen by an Institute, Center, or Office (ICO) ACUC, and their program is directed by a senior veterinarian, the Animal Program Director (APD). In the conduct of their research, the scientific staff, ACUCs and APDs are responsible to the Institutional Official. The Animal Research Advisory Committee (ARAC), comprised mainly of the IC ACUC Chairs, meets regularly to discuss NIH-wide topics, to develop trans-IC guidance and policy, and to provide advice to the IO. All components of the intramural NIH ACU program are accredited by AAALAC, International, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs.

OACU administers the NIH intramural program of Animal Care and Use through managing the IRP’s OLAW Animal Welfare Assurance and other programs of compliance with the following laws, regulations, standards and policies:

To help accomplish this mission, OACU performs the following functions:

  • Maintains the Institutional Assurance of compliance with the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, including preparation of assurance documents, correspondence, and reports for the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), Office of Extramural Research, NIH.
  • Reviews semiannual ICO ACU program evaluations for compliance with the Institutional Assurance, and forwards copies of the ICO semiannual evaluations to the IO.
  • Designates OACU staff members to serve as (non-voting) observers on the ICO ACUCs and provides program liaison functions for the ACUCs and associated staff.
  • Manages a central training program for investigators and ACUC members providing introductory and refresher training required to meet federal regulatory standards.
  • Reviews animal facility construction and renovation plans to facilitate regulatory and compliance requirements. Reviews and concurs with ICO requests to create and maintain satellite animal holding facilities.
  • Reviews and concurs with, prior to implementation, any IAAs establishing new animal program management oversight or facility support to ensure they meet regulatory and accreditation requirements
  • Acts on the request of the Institutional Official to conduct site visits of ACU programs and facilities and implement appropriate corrective actions.
  • Compiles and submits the summary report for the NIH annual USDA report of animal use from the collective reports of the ICO component animal programs.
  • Compiles the AAALAC annual report for the Bethesda-based programs and reviews and concurs with the AAALAC annual reports compiled by other IRP programs.
  • Leads and manages the Bethesda-based triennial AAALAC International accreditation site visit preparations and execution.
  • Consults with ICO ACUC Chairs and/or APDs on issues of potential non-compliance, and when issues are determined to represent serious or continuing non-compliance, reports to the IO and OLAW. Tracks all reported incidents and ensures their timely resolution.
  • Provides NIH IRP animal research outreach functions for informing the general public on the benefits of animal research and the welfare standards used to ensure their welfare and humane care and use.
  • Serves as principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health, DHHS, the NIH Director and the NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) on all aspects of animal care and use in research.
  • Provides IRP animal research subject matter expertise to assist with departmental, public relations, and freedom of information inquiries.
  • Serves as interagency liaison between member Departments and other Federal offices and International bodies and organizations.

This page was last updated on Wednesday, February 15, 2023