IACUC Policy #200: Education and Training for the Humane Care and Use of Animals in Research, Teaching and Testing

This policy describes the requirements for education and training for personnel involved in the care and use of animals for research, teaching and testing at Cornell University.

  1. Policy and Training Requirements
    1. Training Requirements:
    2. Occupational Health and Safety training:
    3. Recertification:
    4. Exemption from training:
  2. Procedures & Documentation
  3. Regulatory Mandates and Guidelines
  4. Appendix 1

Policy and Training Requirements

All personnel utilizing and/or handling animals for research, teaching and testing at Cornell University must be adequately trained, educated and/or qualified in the principles of animal science and safety, the specific procedures that they are expected to perform with the species of animals being used, their roles and responsibilities in ensuring the humane care and use of animals, and the ethical principles and University policies and procedures governing the use of animals in research, testing and teaching.

Training requirements for personnel involved in animal care and use are determined by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC is responsible for ensuring ongoing compliance with those requirements. Cornell Center for Animal Resources and Education (CARE) is responsible for managing the training and education of the animal users.

A. Training Requirements: The training requirements set by the IACUC are based on 1) the procedures the individual will perform, 2) the species that will be used and 3) special considerations related to the role of the person in the animal care and use program. All personnel who work with animals must ordinarily complete the assigned mandatory training before work with animals can begin, unless an exemption is granted (see Section D below). 

1. Personnel named on IACUC protocols: Personnel named on animal use protocols may be assigned the following training:

  • Introductory Module 1: “Introduction to the Care and Use of Research Animals” is an online module from the AALAS Learning Library (ALL) which covers essential information related to animal care and use policies and procedures.
  • Animal Allergy course: Online module (ALL) assigned by CARE to those working with rodents.
  • Module 2 Facility-specific training:  provided by the facility manager before facility access is granted.
  • Module 3 Species-specific training: online modules from the ALL and/or hands-on training,  determined by the procedures listed on the IACUC protocol and  assigned by CARE. See Appendix 1. 
  • Module 4 Procedure-specific hands-on training: (e.g. surgical techniques) determined by the procedures listed on the IACUC protocol and assigned by CARE. See Appendix 1. 

2. Undergraduate and post-graduate students: At the beginning of an introductory course involving the use of animals, information on the care and use of animals is provided by a CARE veterinarian and/or a Biosafety Officer.  In cases where this is not possible, this information is made available to the course professor for distribution to the students. Topics covered may include: 

  • IACUC review and approval of procedures involving animal use for research, teaching and testing
  • The regulations that apply to animals used in research and teaching
  • The role of the IACUC
  • Occupational Health and Safety:

(a)    Information about Cornell’s Animal User Health and Safety Program (AUHSP)

(b)   Physical, chemical and protocol related hazards

(c)    Allergens

(d)   Zoonoses

3. IACUC members

  • IACUC members must complete Module 1, the ABSL-2 Training for Rodent Users course, and the Animal Allergies course on the ALL once.  Module 1 recertification will ordinarily be required only for personnel listed on protocols.
  • IACUC members are provided information on applicable Federal regulations, policy guidelines and University and IACUC policies and procedures.
  • New IACUC members meet with the IACUC Chair, IACUC staff, the Attending Veterinarian and others if required, to learn about the related regulatory requirements and University and IACUC policies, the role of the IACUC, their responsibilities as IACUC members, and tactical information relative to performing required functions as IACUC members.
  • Members are encouraged to attend related training and information seminars and courses offered by National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW) or other reputable organizations and regulatory agencies.
  • Continuing education on relevant topics (e.g., new or updated regulatory requirements and guidance, contemporary issues in animal care and use) is provided at IACUC meetings or otherwise distributed to the members. 

4.      Animal Care Staff (including undergraduate or graduate students performing animal care duties): are required to complete training before they can start work with live animals. The facility manager, in cooperation with the CARE training staff, is responsible for assigning, monitoring and documenting completion of training for animal care staff.

  • Module 1 requirements must be completed, either on-line or in a presentation given by the Training Supervisor or designee.
  • Online Animal Allergies course on ALL.
  • Additional relevant training (e.g. ALL courses) as assigned by CARE.

5. Maintenance and Custodial Workers

6.      All Visitors 

  • The Principal Investigator (PI) or his/her designee must inform the manager of the facility before bringing visitors into the facility. The facility manager, in consultation with the PI or designee, will determine the training required and communicate the requirements to the PI and the visitor.  The PI is responsible for ensuring that the visitor completes the assigned training.
  • Visitors must always be accompanied by an animal facility employee, research staff and/or departmental staff, responsible for the management of that space and the animal use in that space. 

B. Occupational Health and Safety training:  Training on the use of hazardous agents such as blood borne pathogens and Animal Biosafety Level 2 (ABSL2) or ABSL3 practices are assigned based the activities and agents listed on the IACUC protocol. The Institutional Biosafety Officer or designee is responsible for assigning this training.

C. Recertification: Unless specified otherwise, online Module 1 training is valid for 5 years.  If necessary, the IACUC may require recertification, new training or supplemental training to convey new or updated information on the humane treatment of animals, regulatory requirements or University policies. In addition, the IACUC may require supplemental training during the resolution of an incident or adverse event. 

D. Exemption from training: Exemptions are granted only under special circumstances. To request an exemption, please contact the CARE Training Coordinators (cmp15@cornell.edu; dem23@cornell.edu ). The following information must be included in the exemption request:

1.      The reason for requesting an exemption

2.      A list of relevant training previously completed by the individual

The CARE training program supervisor determines whether the exemption is granted based on either 1) the assessment of prior training documentation OR 2) observation and written confirmation of proficiency in those techniques applicable to the exemption request. 

Procedures & Documentation

A.    Online Courses are offered through the AALAS Learning Library (ALL). Cornell users can access the training at any time using their Cornell Net ID. Other than the courses assigned by the IACUC, trainees can take any of the courses offered at ALL, free of charge.  Information on how to access the training and instructions and other information related to training can be found at:  https://researchservices.cornell.edu/training/iacuc-education-and-training

B.     For personnel listed on IACUC protocols, training requirements and procedures for completion of training are communicated to the PI via an electronic protocol management system (eSirius), as part of the protocol pre-review process. 

C.     For individuals not on protocols, training requirements are communicated by the individual’s supervisor or facility manager and documented by CARE and the responsible individual.

D.    Training records for individuals named on protocols and IACUC members are maintained in eSirius. Training records for non-protocol animal users or visitors are maintained by the CARE Training Coordinator.

E.     Documentation of exemptions: All exemptions from training are documented in the individual’s training record in eSirius.

Regulatory Mandates and Guidelines

A.    Public Health Service (PHS) policy (IV, C, 1, f): IACUC shall determine that “Personnel conducting procedures on the species being maintained or studied will be appropriately qualified and trained in these procedures.”

B.     United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Welfare Act Regulations and Standards (9 CFR, 2.32). “Training and instruction of personnel is to include guidance in at least the following areas:

1.      Humane methods of animal maintenance and experimentation, including: 

  • The basic needs of each species of animal 
  • Proper handling and care for the various species of animals used by the facility 
  • Proper pre-procedural and post-procedural care of animals
  • Aseptic surgical methods and procedures 

2.      The concept, availability, and use of research or testing methods that limit the use of animals or minimize animal distress 

3.      Proper use of pain relieving drugs for any species of animals used by the facility 

4.      Methods whereby deficiencies in animal care and treatment are reported whether from an employee of the facility or the public. No facility employee, IACUC member, or laboratory personnel are to be discriminated against or subject to reprisal for reporting violations.

5.      Utilization of services, such as National Agricultural Library, Animal Welfare Information Center, National Library of Medicine, available to provide information: 

  • On appropriate methods of animal care and use
  • On alternatives to the use of live animals in research
  • That could prevent unintended and unnecessary duplication of research involving animals
  • Regarding the intent and requirements of the Act ”

Appendix 1

Training Requirements for Individuals Working with Rodents

Basic Training: Species-specific courses for individuals who work with designated rodents:

  • Working with the Laboratory Mouse (online on ALL)
  • Introduction to Hamsters (online on ALL)
  • Working with the Laboratory Rat (online on ALL)
  • Lab Animal Allergy course (online on ALL)
  • Module 3 Introduction to Rodents course- Hands-on instruction, taught by CARE training personnel or personnel approved by CARE.

Surgical Training: Courses for individuals who perform survival surgeries on rodents:

  • Aseptic Technique for Rodent Survival Surgery (online on ALL)
  • Post Procedure Care of Mice and Rats in Research: Minimizing Pain and Distress (online on ALL)
  • Module 4 Procedure-specific hands-on training: (e.g. basic surgical technique) determined by the procedures listed on the IACUC protocol and assigned by CARE.

Breeding Training: A course for individuals who maintain rodent breeding colonies. 

  • Colony Management I: Breeding and Recordkeeping (online on ALL) 

Training Requirements for Users of Other Species

Species-Specific Training: Assigned on a case by case basis and may include online or hands-on sessions.


Approved by the IACUC October 21, 2010; Revised September 2011, September 2013, September 2016; September 2019