AAALAC Site Visit
In March 2022, the University of Denver completed its 4th AAALAC Reaccreditation Site Visit since its initial accreditation in 2010 and was recommended for “Continued Full Accreditation.” AAALAC International is a private, nonprofit organization that offers a voluntary accreditation emphasizing the highest ethical standards in animal care and use. The reaccreditation process takes place every three years and involves submitting a Program Description followed by a site visit from at least two AAALAC ad hoc consultants. The consultants review the program description prior to their visit to prepare questions and comments for the IACUC to discuss when they are on site. Once the program description review is completed, the consultants inspect each animal facility on campus confirming the information in our program description and validating the animals’ welfare and overall care.
The program description is the longest and most difficult process during the reaccreditation. The IACUC Administrator spends at least 6 months developing the final submission because it involves working with several departments on campus to gather the information and answer all of the questions. Also, the IACUC needs to review and approve the document several times as information is added or removed. The final submission is roughly 250 pages and covers topics such as the Animal Care and Use Program, Program Oversight, Animal Environment and Housing, Veterinary Care, and the Physical Plant. There are also 17 appendices covering items like animal housing information, cleaning schedules, protocol forms, and meeting minutes. The final submission is due about 3 months before the site visit and those months are used to reconfirm all of the items in the document and prepare for the visit.
After the program description review and facility inspections are complete, the consultants provide either suggestions for improvement (SFIs) or mandatory items for the IACUC to complete. SFIs are indeed suggestions and can be respectfully declined by IACUC with justification. However, mandatory items need to be completed in specified time frames based on their severity and can affect accreditation if not completed. This year, we received only 3 suggestions (usually the minimum of suggestions offered) and no mandatory items to address. The consultants also offered the following commendations for DU’s program.
- The consultants noted the “Outstanding” core animal facility, specifically the construction, equipment, utilization, and animal care provisions. They also noted the high level of care and management of the Vivarium Manager Jody Davidson.
- The IACUC was described as one of the best they had seen and “a superb example of Teamwork”. They were very impressed by the communication between committee members and the involvement of our community and non-scientific members.
- The consultants provided a commendation specific to the IACUC Administrator and Vivarium Director, Tyler Ridgeway. These individual commendations are not commonly offered by AAALAC. The words to describe him were: “knowledgeable”, “exceedingly well organized and professional”, and “efficient, focused, and a wonderful program leader”.
- Finally, outside of the formal report, the consultants noted that the overall program was “something to be very proud of”. Their comments solidified our thoughts of having a top-tier IACUC!
The IACUC Administrator/Vivarium Director will begin working with the Institutional Official, Dr. Lengsfeld, the IACUC, and other campus staff to address the SFIs and begin planning for programmatic changes before the next site visit in 2025.