What do I need to do to begin an animal study?

You must meet these three major requirements before working with vertebrate animals at MU:

  • Get your Animal Care and Use Protocol form approved. Animal studies and all animal-related procedures must be described in an Animal Care and Use Protocol and approved by MU’s Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC). Before initiating new work or personnel/procedural changes, you must get approval from the ACUC.

  • Complete training. All animal users are required to complete the online training module Basic Training for Animal Care and Use at MU. Other requirements for training vary.

  • Enroll in MU's Occupational Health and Safety Program. Enrollment is mandatory for all individuals listed on the Animal Care and Use Protocol form and for anyone on the MU campus who works directly or indirectly with animals and/or pathogens.

How do I get my animal protocol approved?

We encourage you to consult with an Office of Animal Resources (OAR) veterinarian before submitting your protocol application.

  • These ACUC protocol instructions will guide you through the protocol creation and submission process. 

  • Contact us with questions about filling out the form or technical difficulties with the web software.

  • The ACUC will review your protocol, and you may receive questions from reviewers. Your prompt response will ensure a faster review. Contact the Animal Care and Quality Assurance (ACQA) office if you have application status questions.

  • Animal work may not begin until the ACQA office notifies you officially that your protocol is approved.

What is the review process?

Your protocol application is reviewed by:

  • The ACUC coordinator who reviews for completeness.

  • An OAR veterinarian.

  • ACUC members (for scientific review and to ensure that it adheres to federal regulations and MU policies).

  • A reviewer from Environmental Health & Safety, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) or Radiation Safety Committee (RSC), if applicable.

Note that some applications may require a full committee review.

Once the review is complete, the ACUC chair (or designee) gives final approval.

How long does protocol approval take?

An average protocol review requires approximately four to six weeks but some reviews can take several months.

What factors influence how long it takes to review a protocol?

Faster reviews:

  • Principal investigator (PI) is quick to respond to email inquiries.

  • There are no questions from reviewers.

  • Submission is a minor amendment.

  • Related reviews are obtained first, if required (e.g., those from RSC and IBC) 

  • Project is non-invasive or not complex.

  • Submission is not called to full committee review. 

Slower reviews:

  • PI is slow to respond to email inquiries.

  • Reviewers have many questions.

  • Submission is extensive and could potentially involve pain or distress.

  • Protocol depends on IBC, RSC or other outside review that has not been completed.

  • Submission requires full committee review.

Requests to expedite protocol approvals are generally granted only in cases of legitimate emergency or circumstances outside of the PI's control. Requests should go to the ACUC chair and must include dates and a thorough justification for the request.

The absolute minimum review time for anything other than a minor amendment is three to five full business days, depending on the request’s nature and availability of reviewers.

What does it mean if my protocol requires a full committee review?

A full committee review (FCR) usually occurs when discussion is required to assess and reach consensus on a protocol. The ACQA office will notify the PI if the protocol has been called for a FCR.

A committee member can request a FCR at any point during the review process. If that happens, the person who requested the FCR brings background information to the next ACUC monthly meeting, and members discuss the details. Occasionally, the ACUC will request your presence to clarify a protocol. Please contact the ACUC coordinator if your protocol has been called for FCR, and you would like to discuss the application with the committee.


Contact Us

310 Jesse Hall
Email: acuc@missouri.edu Phone: 573-882-1746