Frequently Asked Questions


The IRB and IACUC will at a reduced capacity during June and July of 2022.  Please refer to the summer schedule page for important informaiton (Click here)



Click here for an official copy of OLAW handbook for IACUC

Who should have a health screening?

Any staff, faculty, or students conducting animal researcher must go through a health screening process prior to obtaining approval from the IACUC.  The health screening form is available on the Important Documents page.  This is to be completed by each investigator.  Students will need to have faculty mentors sign the first page of the health screening form before they complete the health history section of the form.  Completed forms should be brought to MTSU Health Services where they will be reviewed.  If there are any areas that need clarification or immunizations that need to be completed, Health Services will contact you.  Once you have completed all of the necessary follow-up, the Office of Research Compliance will be notified that you have completed the process.  Your health information will be maintained at Health Services; the Office of Research Compliance will not have access to your health information.

What activities are exempted from review?

NONE! Any activities involving the use of live vertebrates (captive or free-ranging) must be reviewed by the IACUC. Even if all you are doing is watching free-ranging animals through a spotting scope.

What is an adverse event and what steps do I take if one occurs?

An adverse event is defined as any happening not consistent with routine expected outcomes that results in unexpected animal welfare issues (death, disease, or distress) or human health risks (zoonotic diseases or injuries). For emergency veterinary care, please contact Dr. John Haffner at 494-8848. An adverse event form is located on the "forms" page for you to download and complete immediately after the event. This form is to be submitted electronically to the Office of Research Compliance - - for review by the IACUC.   The contact number for to report compliance violations is 615 494 8918.


What are the categories of pain and distress experienced by animals?

USDA classifies pain and distress into four categories depending on the type of activities or interventions. Click here for a detailed description of the USDA categories of pain with examples.

I am a graduate student - how do I file a protocol application?

As a graduate student you will likely be required to fill out the application; however, your supervisor must be listed as a Co-PI. He or she must sign the application declaration because they are responsible for mentoring you through your research project. If there is another PI (i.e. an agency employee) please contact the IACUC Chair to determine who gets listed as the PI on the Assurance.

My project involves the use of animals at another University's animal facility. I have submitted a protocol to that University's IACUC. Does the MTSU IACUC need to review this work too?

YES. If you are a MTSU employee or working on a project funded through MTSU you must file the MTSU protocol application to this committee. DO NOT TURN IN A FORM FROM A DIFFERENT UNIVERSITY!

I want to use animals for a lab course. What do I do?

Use of animals in teaching requires IACUC approval. It is our preference that one (1) a protocol application be filled out for each individual course. Therefore, use of animals in many different labs for a single course should be listed on one (1) form. Multiple courses may all be listed on a single form if they use common labs. To avoid confusion, be sure to contact the IACUC Chair before trying this.

I am just catching fish and killing them to collect tissues for my study. Do I need to file a protocol?

Yes. The capture and euthanasia of fish are covered activities. You must provide the following minimal information about your work in the appropriate sections of the form: objectives, sample size, scientific methodology, capture technique, and euthanasia technique. What you are collecting (liver for p450 analysis, kidney for heavy metal analysis, liver stable isotopes, stomach content for prey species, etc) addresses the scientific methodology and ultimately the justification to kill fish. However, the specifics of blood and tissue collection techniques are only required if you collect samples PRIOR to killing the animals. You need not describe details of the tissue collection if you humanely euthanize the animal first.

The agency I am submitting a proposal to has requested a letter from the IACUC. What do I do?

The MTSU IACUC will issue a signed letter confirming that your protocol has been reviewed and approved. Please provide the name of the individual and/or agency the letter must be addressed to. If you need this letter YOU must request it!

I am using chick embryos. Do I need to file my protocol?

Yes, but only if your research will take the embryo to the stage of hatching. You need not file a protocol application if the chick embryos are killed prior to hatching.

I am doing surgery in the field. Is there a reporting requirement for this?

Yes. In the Animal Welfare Regulations, a field study means any study conducted on free-living wild animals in their natural habitat, which does not involve an invasive procedure, and which does not harm or materially alter the behavior of the animals under study. So, a field study is not subject to the Animal Welfare Regulations if it adheres to the above definition. However, many of our field surgical procedures that involve implantation of telemetry devices are subject to the Animal Welfare Act and these activities must be reported to USDA on an annual basis.

Can the IACUC stop my research project after a protocol has been approved?

Yes. The IACUC can suspend activities if animals under your care experience a high morbidity/mortality rate or if the University receives complaints. The IACUC with the PI reviews the situation and, if required, make modifications to the protocol. OPRR, NIH and USDA must be notified if any suspensions of activities occur. Suspension of a protocol to correct unforeseen problems is not a problem for the PI and does not question his/her capability. A PI only runs into problems if they are conducting unapproved protocols or they have been negligent in their animal care.

I do not have an approved protocol but want to get my animals. Can I?

No. Animals may not be purchased from vendors or collected from the wild until you have an approved IACUC protocol. If time is crucial please contact the IACUC Chair.

I was never told that I needed IACUC approval to use animals!

Surprisingly, some researchers claim ignorance about the animal welfare requirements. To a certain extent this is understandable given the multitude of regulations and guidelines that need to be followed. However, ignorance or misunderstanding of the requirements is no excuse for failing to comply. This, in part, is why a formal training program is now a federally mandated requirement for individuals using animals in research, teaching and testing.

Can I get a copy of my protocol? Can I have a list of approved protocols for this list of PIs?

While these types of requests frequently can be filled immediately, there will be occasions when it may take a couple of days before we can get copies of your files to you. I highly recommend that you keep at least one copy of everything you submit to the IACUC Office in your files. In the meantime, please don't wait until your need is urgent before submitting a request of this nature.

Is the current protocol form available on-line?

Yes, there is a current protocol on line. It can be accessed at our important documents page. 

Does my protocol qualify for Designated Member Review?

This category includes continuing reviews, previously approved protocols that have been resubmitted or identical protocols submitted to different funding agencies, protocols with no direct animal use, e.g. funds will be used for salary support only (on a previously approved protocol), or use of shared animal products or slaughterhouse materials. Additionally, investigators conducting a new project that qualifies as USDA Pain Category C or below can request designated review. One IACUC member is assigned to review the protocol. The reviewer's comments and the protocol are then forwarded to the remainder of the Committee for their review. If no further comments are received and there is no request for a full committee review, a letter requesting clarifications and/or stipulations is sent to the investigator (approval pending modification and/or clarification) or if a recommendation to approve outright has been made, a letter of approval is sent.

Who should be listed on my protocol?

The IACUC regulations require that the protocol lists all individuals who will come into contact with the animals under the protocol. All personnel under the protocol must have completed IACUC training within the past three years. No personnel will be approved by the IACUC office for work under the protocol until the requirement for IACUC Training has been fulfilled. Personnel no longer associated with the protocol must be removed in a timely manner by the PI via submission of a letter sent by email or snail mail. For additional information regarding personnel training, visit:

Directions for using the training- click here

What is the difference between a significant and minor change to a protocol?

Minor changes can include (but are not limited to): a change from jugular vein to tail vein for obtaining a blood sample, or change in anesthetic agent. Significant changes can include, (but are not limited to): PI change, change in objective, switch from non-survival to survival surgery, change of species, withholding of analgesics, any increase in degree of invasiveness of a procedure or discomfort to an animal. Ask the Office of Research Compliance if you are unsure if your change is minor or significant.

If you need additional information, contact the Compliance Officer at 494-8918.

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Office of Compliance

Sam H. Ingram Bldg. 010A
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Phone: 615-494-8918

Report compliance breaches or other suspicious activities.