What is an IACUC? Importance of taking an IACUC Core Training Course

Lab tech Work with transgenic mouse in modern laboratory

Animal research is critical to advancing scientific knowledge biology and behavior and to informing clinical practice and public health policy.  Research with nonhuman animals is a highly regulated enterprise, with a system of laws, regulations and policies, at the federal, state, and local levels. The  Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) plays a central role in ensuring that animal research conducted at their institution is in compliance with pertinent regulations and policies. This blog post will discuss the IACUC’s role in animal research and the importance of PRIM&R’s IACUC Core Training. 

What is an IACUC?  
IACUC is an independent committee responsible for reviewing and approving animal research protocols. The volunteer committee is comprised of scientists, veterinarians, and community members. By law, all animal research conducted at institutions that receive federal funding must have an IACUC approve the proposed research. 

The Role of an IACUC  
The primary role of an IACUC is to ensure that all animal research complies with relevant regulations and policies, such as the Animal Welfare Act Regulations and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The committee reviews research proposals to ensure that the animals used are appropriate for the research conducted, that the research methodology is sound, and that all alternative research methods have been considered. Additionally, the IACUC monitors the care and treatment of animals at the facility and investigates any complaints or concerns related to animal welfare. 

Why is the IACUC Important?  
The IACUC’s oversight plays a crucial role in ensuring responsible animal research. The committee ensures that animals used are treated humanely and that the research is necessary, scientifically valid, and conducted in a way that minimizes pain and distress to the animals. 

Frequent training is necessary for anyone involved in animal research or handling, whether a principal investigator, laboratory technician, veterinarian, or research staff member.

In addition to being a regulatory requirement, IACUC training can help improve the quality of animal research by providing knowledge and skills needed to conduct work safely, ethically, and effectively. Training ensures that animal research is conducted in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, which protect both animals and researchers.

Keeping up with changes in regulations on your own can be burdensome on top of other job requirements. If you are new to the field, it can be overwhelming. Training courses regularly cover topics such as animal welfare, animal behavior, handling and husbandry techniques, pain management, and the legal and ethical considerations surrounding animal research.

PRIM&R Animal Research Oversight Course
The Animal Research Oversight Course (AROC) is an engaging, interactive online course that equips IACUC members and staff for their roles through demonstration of the ethical principles and regulatory frameworks that govern their day-to-day work.

Throughout the course, learners will observe a simulated IACUC’s deliberations that demonstrate how key ethical principles are applied in the IACUC protocol review process.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the function and purpose of IACUCs and animal care and use programs
  • Define ethical principles, regulations, and guidelines that inform research with animals
  • Apply these principles in the review of research protocols that include animals
  • Describe participation in an effective, well-run IACUC meeting


AROC is geared toward new IACUC members and IACUC members seeking a refresher on foundational ethical principles and regulations in animal subjects research. Staff and researchers will also benefit from taking this course.

Course format Supplemental materials Features
Progress checks and activities Glossary of terms Self-paced (can take the course in multiple sittings)
Simulated IACUC discussions Resource directory Progress saved
Case studies   HTML5 compatible (Adobe Flash Player not required)
Approximately 4 hours    

View a demo of the course here.

Annual Licenses
AROC is available as an individual or institutional annual license. Subscribers have access to the course for one year from their date of purchase. Institutional subscribers will be contacted regarding their renewal 60 days prior to their renewal date.

Individual License:
An individual license grants individual access only to the person who purchases the course.
  • Only one person will be able to take the course and receive credit for completing it. If you plan on having more than one individual take the course, please either purchase multiple subscriptions or an institutional license.
  • Member status is not transferable for the purpose of individual licenses.

Institutional License:
An institutional license is for two or more individuals who directly work together at the same institution. 
  • There is no limit to the number of learners who can take the course under an institutional license, however, learners taking the course under one license should be affiliated with the same site or location. Please contact onlinelearning@primr.org to discuss your institution’s needs.
  • It is the responsibility of the person whose name is used to purchase the license to help their “team” create accounts, add team members, and distribute information to their team. Instructions will be provided. Please allow 1-2 business days for PRIM&R staff to set up your team. 
  • Only the person purchasing the license needs to be a PRIM&R member in order to receive the member institutional rate.
*Please note, the person whose name the registration is under will receive membership. PRIM&R does not offer group institutional or departmental memberships.

Continuing Education Credit
Course participants who hold the Certified Professional in IACUC Administration (CPIA®) credential may apply 4.0 continuing education credits towards CPIA recertification category two credit. Learn More

Learners who complete AROC can earn up to 4 hours of continuing education (CE) credit for participating. The AROC certificate of completion can be used to obtain CE credits from professional associations. Each association’s guidelines for acceptance of credit hours may differ. Please consult the appropriate association representative for information as to if, and how many, credits from AROC may be used for CE.

This version of AROC is for institutional subscribers. Individual subscribers, please click here.

If you prefer, you can find a paper registration form here. Please email the completed form to onlinelearning@primr.org.

PRIM&R IACUC Core Training 
PRIM&R IACUC Core Training is an online training program that combines two of our most popular courses for those working in oversight of research with animals, IACUC Fundamentals and Essentials of IACUC Administration, presented live in a convenient format for remote learning. Participants are welcome to attend one or both courses. 
Course attendees will also have access to an exclusive platform on the PRIM&R Online Community for additional discussion and networking. 
Each course will be presented as two 3–hour sessions during consecutive weeks, and with one supplementary intersession to provide additional opportunities for attendees and speakers to discuss, interact, and network. 
Course 1: IACUC Fundamentals 
This introductory-level course is for anyone looking for a solid foundation in the oversight of animal research, including the history of animal welfare regulations and oversight and accrediting bodies; the roles and responsibilities of the IACUC and staff members; training IACUC staff, IACUC members, and research staff; protocol review; post-approval; and how to work with others outside of the IACUC. 

Course 2: Essentials of IACUC Administration 
This program is ideal for animal care and use program personnel who are familiar with basic IACUC functions, as well as more experienced IACUC administrators and staff. Topics covered include the key components of an IACUC program; the responsibilities of IACUC administrators; strategies for creating and maintaining a culture of compliance; and best practices to ensure that IACUC administrators and their staff provide the support necessary to develop and continually strengthen both the IACUC and the broader animal care and use program. 
Continuing Education 
Course participants who hold the Certified Professional in IACUC Administration (CPIA®) credential may apply 4 continuing education credits towards CPIA® recertification credit for each course in the IACUC Core Training. Learn More