Getting Started

What you need to know to conduct animal research

Before using vertebrate animals in research, teaching or testing at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB), you must have an approved Protocol in TOPAZ Elements system with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or be listed on an approved protocol. If you are working with recombinant DNA or bio-hazardous material in animals submit an IBC application simultaneously to minimize delays in the reviews. 

How to Submit a Protocol in TOPAZ Elements

Before you can work with animals at UCB and receive keys or card access to the facilities, you must:

  • Be listed on an approved protocol. For already approved protocols, add the person by submitting an amendment to your Topaz Elements protocol. In the menu on the right hand side of this webpage, click on the instructions on submitting an amendment or protocol.
  • When submitting a protocol application or amendment to add personnel, complete a Personnel Qualifications Form and upload it to the Elements amendment. Click here to learn more about maintaining Training Documentation for your personnel. Your qualifications must be approved by the IACUC Office before handling or working with animals. This is your training documentation.
  • Take the IACUC CITI Online Training, at . Work with your lab to develop a training plan on how you will learn to conduct procedures on the protocols you will be working on. You may not handle animals until you are listed on an approved protocol.
  • Enroll in the Occupational Health Program.
  • Take an orientation in the animal facility where you will be working.
  • Complete the Facility Access Form. The facility access form will not be approved by our Operations Manager unless the previous steps have been completed.

After your protocol is approved, the principal investigator must:

  • Submit an amendment in Topaz Elements and receive approval before making any changes to an approved animal use protocol.
  • Submit an Interim Review form in Elements at least two months before the anniversary of your protocol approval. Do the same thing two months before the anniversary of the second year of your protocol. If you fail to submit your annual review form in time, the IACUC will ask you to halt your research.
  • Submit an Unanticipated Event Form if an incident occurs that is not listed on your approved protocol. For any issue of health or welfare of the animal, contact the Institutional Veterinarian or other veterinary staff member.
  • Be prepared for semi-annual inspections or other post-approval monitoring. Make sure you dispose of expired chemicals and drugs. Be accessible to the IACUC during the inspections.
  • Keep appropriate records such as training documentation for yourself and all your personnel and surgery records for your animals.

You must minimize potential pain and distress in animals by:

  • Being trained in proper animal handling
  • Choosing alternatives to live animals whenever possible
  • Providing for proper housing and behavioral needs of the animals
  • Follow appropriate guidelines for procedures that are likely to cause pain or distress
  • Knowing how to determine if the animal is experiencing pain or distress.
  • Utilizing appropriate anesthetics and analgesics for painful procedures, or justify to the IACUC why they cannot be used
  • Use aseptic technique and proper procedures when performing surgery
  • Provide appropriate post-procedural care
  • Perform euthanasia of animals using approved methods
  • Contact the Institutional Veterinarian or other veterinary staff member when there is a sick or injured animal, or you have a question about animal health.

You must be aware of the hazards you are working with.

Make sure you receive the appropriate safety training through Environmental Health and Safety. Be sure to communicate with the Office of Animal Resources regarding any hazards you are using in the animal facilities, as this impacts OAR staff as well. Take responsibility to make sure everyone who handles your animals is safe and understands their risks.

You must be aware of animal use regulations and guidelines.

Familiarize yourself with the various regulations and guidelines that affect animal use at the University of Colorado Boulder.

You must follow the Animal Care Program policies and procedures.

Principal investigators must keep track of the number of animals they use against each protocol.

  • To order animals, complete the Animal Order Form. Animal Order Forms must be received by noon on Wednesdays in order for the order to be placed in time for animal arrival the following Monday. 
  • To import animals, complete the Import Form.
  • To transfer animals, complete the Animal Transfer Form. Transfer requests to transfer animals that are not naive will have to be considered on a case by case basis by the IACUC. 

Know who to contact for questions about:            

Other helpful suggestions:

  • Read the protocol and addenda you are listed on to know what has been approved.
  • Know your risks (read MSDS, SOPs, and know how to report injuries)
  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate.
  • Report animal welfare concerns