The University of Minnesota’s program leading animal care and use in research and teaching has received a renewal of full accreditation following an on-site review earlier this year.
The University’s Research Animal Resources (RAR) received continued full accreditation last month from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), a nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. The November 21 accreditation letter recognized the University for providing and maintaining an excellent program of laboratory animal care and use.
“The council is pleased to inform you that the program conforms with AAALAC International Standards,” a letter from the AAALAC read. “[The] council has no further recommendations to offer for improvement of the animal care and use program at this time.”
Nearly every medical treatment, medical device, and diagnostic tool available today was developed with the help of animals in research, from heart transplants to chemotherapy. Future treatments and cures for debilitating illnesses like multiple sclerosis, brain cancer, and depression will likely also rely on progress made through animal research.
As one example, animal research led by Melanie Graham, MPH, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery in the U’s Medical School, aims to reverse diabetes effects long-term by successfully implanting insulin-producing cells into monkeys without the toxic drugs normally needed to keep the body from attacking these cells—which could broaden the reach of human patients who stand to benefit.
Mark Suckow, DVM, director of RAR and professor of veterinary population medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said animal research plays an important role in fostering the discovery of new knowledge that improves the health and well-being of both humans and animals—but it must always be done ethically, responsibly, and with good justification.
“That’s why this renewal of full accreditation is important,” Suckow said. “It serves as a testament to the University’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of animal care, conforming to all regulations, and only using animals when no accurate, scientifically validated alternative is available.”
Among the commendations listed in the accreditation letter were the U’s strong institutional commitment to and support of responsible animal research; its well-maintained facilities; its knowledgeable and highly qualified veterinary, technical, and animal care and husbandry staff; and its engaged and collaborative Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee members, administrative staff, and compliance staff reviewing research projects and protocols.