Animal ethics and approvals

Animal ethics and approvals

Research ethics at Macquarie University is supported by the Research ethics and integrity team in the Research Office. The University expects that all research involving animals complies with the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th edition (2013) and other ethics guidelines and relevant legislation.

Animal ethics committee

It is the responsibility of the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to ensure, on behalf of the University, that all care and use of animals is conducted in compliance with the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th edition, 2013 (NHMRC). The role of the AEC is to ensure that the use of animals is justified, provides for the welfare of the animals and incorporates the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (also known as 'the three R's'):

  • replacement of animals with other methods
  • reduction in the number of animals used
  • refinement of techniques used to reduce the impacts on animals.

All staff and students who will be conducting research or demonstration teaching projects that involve the use of live vertebrate animals must apply to Macquarie University's Animal Ethics Committee for ethics approval. This includes the use of animals in research, teaching, field trials, product testing, diagnosis, the production of biological products and environmental studies. Observational studies of wildlife also require AEC approval.

Projects involving animals may only commence with approval in writing from the Committee and once an Animal Research Authority has been issued for the project. Approval may also be required from other relevant authorities outside of the University. All persons involved in the procedures of an approved project must also be approved by the AEC.

AEC membership

The AEC is comprised of four categories of membership:

  • Category A - persons with qualifications and experience in veterinary science
  • Category B - persons with substantial experience in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities
  • Category C - persons external to the University with a demonstrable commitment to and experience in furthering the welfare of animals
  • Category D - persons external to the University who have never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities and who represent the views of the wider community

Education and training

The Code also requires that students are given an opportunity to discuss the ethical, social and scientific issues involved in the use of animals for research or teaching. Macquarie University hosts a workshop at the beginning of each semester for all students who will be working with research animals.

Definitions

The Code defines Animal as "any live non-human vertebrate( that is, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals encompassing domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock, wildlife) and cephalopods."

The Code defines Wildlife as "free-living animals of native or introduced species, including those that are captive bred and those captured from free-living populations."

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