IACUC20 Blog Squad: The Must-Attend Session for New IACUC Administrators/Coordinators

I have been an IACUC Coordinator for a handful of years and this past October we hired a new IACUC coordinator who will be supporting both the IACUC and IBC at my institution. As part of her training, we wanted her to be able to attend the 2020 IACUC Conference (IACUC20), but due to maternity leave, she was unable to. This ended up giving me the opportunity to investigate which sessions would be best for her to focus on once she returned and between the title of session C3, “IACUC Administration for New IACUC Administrators/Coordinators,” and its description, I had high hopes that this session would be a perfect crash-course for our newest team member.

After viewing this session, I was not disappointed. There are so many facets to being an IACUC coordinator that more experienced coordinators sometimes forget we even do it. This session not only covered all the basics of what an IACUC coordinator may do, but both presenters took the time to explain how they fulfill these duties at their own institutions.

The regulations are clear in the expectation of what needs to be done in terms of an animal care and use program, but there is a lot of room for interpretation on how to meet the regulations. A prime example is the use of Designated Member Review and Full Committee Review. Both are acceptable review routes according to the regulations, but some institutions choose to not utilize the Designated Member Review process for new protocols. Hearing how other institutions meet their regulatory requirements can serve as a great talking point when training new IACUC Administrators/Coordinators. It can inspire a programmatic review of policies and procedures, since it forces those of us with more experience to stop and think about why we have certain policies in place.

At my institution, we have every IACUC protocol go through Full Committee Review. This was an item I know I covered with the new IACUC/IBC coordinator, but I realized that I did not necessarily explain why. Upon her return, as we were catching up and reviewing our basic processes, I made sure to provide the why to her on this item. We review every IACUC protocol through Full Committee Review because it helps the IACUC foster a relationship with the researchers at our institution. We want them to feel that the IACUC is a resource, rather than the “regulation police” making it difficult for them to achieve their research goals. Upon explaining this to our newest team member, I could see the light bulb go off in her head that this made sense to her in how we approach research compliance in general.

When I first started out as an IACUC Coordinator, I know that I did not attend a session like this at IACUC15, but after watching this session from IACUC20, I wish I had. It is not that I did not know what I was supposed to do as an IACUC Coordinator, but this session helped give me a greater appreciation of everything that I do in my role. I hope that after our newest coordinator watches this session, she too gains a better appreciation of all we do. I also have this hope for all new IACUC administrators and coordinators who watch this session.

Samantha Sullivan, BS, BA, is the IACUC Coordinator at Arizona State University (ASU). She received her BS in Psychology, and her BA in Business–Global Leadership, from ASU. She started her career in Research Compliance as a student worker in the Office of Research Integrity & Assurance at ASU as a student worker. That position opened up a whole new world to her, and upon graduating with her BS, she was hired on full-time as the IACUC/IBC Coordinator in 2015. With research needs expanding as ASU works towards $815M in research expenditures by 2025, the IACUC/IBC Coordinator position was split into two positions. Samantha then became the main IACUC Coordinator, and she still provides back-up support to the IBC Coordinators.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

Registration is now open for PRIM&R’s 2021 IACUC Conference (IACUC21), which will be streamed virtually April 14-16, 2021Interested in attending “IACUC Administration for New IACUC Administrators/Coordinators”? It’s session B08 at IACUC21!

This online event will also include keynote and plenary sessions, breakout sessions, networking events, and in-depth workshops designed to help build and strengthen effective animal care and use programs, as well as provide ample opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, and work through the challenging issues that can arise when using animal models in research. Register today!