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IACUC General Information

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WHOI's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is a federally-mandated committee responsible for ensuring the ethical and humane treatment of vertebrate animals involved in research, education, and testing.

Policy Regarding the Acquisition and Application of Vertebrate Animals Involved in Research by WHOI The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) make each academic institution responsible for the ethical and humane treatment of animals used in research, education, and testing by requiring the formation of an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to uphold the policies and scientific standards set forth by federal regulations.  Any project with involvement of live vertebrate animals (mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, embryos) must have an application (“protocol” or “procedure”) approved by the WHOI IACUC before the research can commence.  The use of dead animals or parts of animals is not covered by IACUC review unless the activity involves (1) killing animals for the purpose of obtaining or using their tissues or other materials, or (2) project-specific antemortem manipulation of animals prior to killing them. If either circumstance is applicable to the acquisition of dead animals, body parts or tissues, prior IACUC protocol review and approval are required. If vertebrates are described in a proposal, the vertebrate box must be checked in the proposal green sheet. If all the subjects are dead prior to the project, email the IACUC administrator with a summary of the provenance of the material so that IACUC can determine if a protocol review is required.  If a person leaves WHOI to continue the same research covered by a WHOI IACUC-approved protocol, a new protocol must be written and approved by the new institution.

The Use of Vertebrate Animals includes, but is not limited to:

  • Studies with live vertebrate animals or tissues, including laboratory and shipboard projects
  • Acquisition of vertebrate animals by WHOI investigators or proxies
  • Live vertebrate animals supplied to WHOI investigators from other sources
  • Any projects conducted at WHOI by others (e.g. Summer Student Fellows, volunteers)

The Application Process:

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee reviews applications throughout the year.  The specific IACUC requirements of the funding agencies are the investigator’s responsibility; some funding agencies require the approval of an IACUC protocol at the time of proposal submission. The mandatory WHOI IACUC applications are available at ("Applications") or upon request to  Investigators at WHOI have the option of submitting a Project Protocol Application or General Procedure Application, depending on the scope of the work for which the application is completed.  At any time during a project an investigator may revise an approved protocol and resubmit it.  Similarly, if an investigator has started a project and realizes an IACUC protocol should be written, IACUC needs to be notified promptly, followed by submission of an application.  The WHOI IACUC Administrator receives copies of all proposals indicating involvement of vertebrates from Grants & Contracts Services.

Types of Applications:

Project Protocol

  • A protocol application submitted for review that is specific to a particular project or proposal. A Project Protocol may stand alone for one-time use or act in conjunction with a General Procedure (see below).

General Procedure

  • A protocol application submitted for review that adheres to a particular method or group of methods, which may be applied to multiple projects.  A General Procedure is used to cover standard techniques commonly used by a laboratory group and is typically applied to future proposals.  For projects/proposals that require additional details beyond what is covered in a pre-approved General Procedure, an investigator will submit a Project Protocol Application where s/he can reference a unique number of the pre-approved General Procedure that the investigator wishes to employ.  Investigators will often times have several General Procedures on file for referencing purposes on various projects.
Electronic Submission:

Email a completed Word(R) Document of the Application to Kate McMullen ( The application is printed, reviewed for completeness, and passed on to a Committee member for review and approval.

The Approval Process:

  • All approved protocols are filed and maintained by the WHOI IACUC Administrator, Kate McMullen.  Approved General Procedures are assigned a unique number.
  • The approval letter, with or without suggested modifications to the protocol, is signed by the designated Committee member.  The original is sent to the lead investigator and copies are sent to co-investigators.
  • If modifications to the protocol are suggested in the approval letter, the changes must be made at/by the time the proposal is awarded and the entire protocol must be re-submitted within six months of original approval.


Contact the IACUC Administrator:

Kate McMullen
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
MS 33, Redfield 206
Woods Hole, MA  02543

Go to Committee for alternate contacts.

Last updated: November 16, 2015

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