Princeton’s Program of Animal Care receives recommendation for continued full accreditation by AAALACi
Three representatives from the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALACi) performed a site visit to review Princeton’s Program of Animal Care on February 26/27, 2018. AAALACi accreditation is important for Princeton because it represents a voluntary, third party process to demonstrate our ability to meet the minimum standards required by law, and also go the extra distance to achieve excellence in animal care and use. In order to receive funding for research using animals from the NIH and other agencies, institutions must demonstrate compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (NRC, 2011). AAALACi accreditation is the most common method to assure the NIH of this compliance. AAALACi accreditation also greatly facilitates collaborations and contractual arrangements with other institutions and vendors with whom animal work and intellectual property may be shared.
The AAALACi representatives reviewed a written description of our program, a document that was approximately 475 pages and included 23 appendices. They then went into every animal room, every lab, and procedure space where animals are used. The AAALACi representatives spoke with animal care staff, LAR staff, RIA staff, research associates, members from the faculty, and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Following this they reviewed an extensive array of documents including animal use protocols, standard operating procedures and policies from LAR, RIA, EHS, individual animal records, veterinary records, training records, surgery records, post-operative care records, etc.
During the exit debriefing, the AAALACi representatives commented on the strong program that Princeton had developed over the years. Special commendations were noted for the synergy that exists between all the different components that make up our program, exceptionally clean and well maintained facilities, a highly engaged veterinary staff, experienced and senior animal husbandry staff with high degrees of certification, a highly engaged and functioning IACUC, and an excellent program of enrichment, especially for our nonhuman primates.
The AAALACi representatives had only one suggestion for improvement that involved our occupational health and safety program and the requirement in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals that risks be proactively identified and assessments made to reduce or mitigate potential safety concerns. Safety concerns were identified that involved laser signage and training, the mixing of irritant chemicals and noise reduction involving a recirculating water pump in an aquatics facility.
Although the final determination will not be announced until July 2018, the AAALACi representatives are going to recommend continued full accreditation. This was the best possible outcome.
RIA would like to acknowledge the collaborative effort necessary to achieve such an accomplishment and wishes to thank our colleagues in Laboratory Animal Resources, Occupational Health, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities, and Security for their dogged and unswerving efforts in achieving this common goal. We also want to give special thanks to the faculty, research, and lab members who worked alongside us during the preparation. The AAALACi site visitors made a special note of the strong partnership between the research community and those groups that work behind the scenes to support the research and education mission of the University and we are especially proud of this collaborative culture.