The Division of Veterinary Resources (DVR)
Certain kinds of questions can be answered only through animal studies
The University of Miami, like every other major research institution developing treatments and therapies to combat disease, conducts biomedical research involving animals. Health research institutions depend upon animal-based research because they need to understand complex biology and the impacts of new treatments in living systems that mirror human physiology, development, and disease.
Animal studies remain critical in developing treatments for injury and disease in both animals and humans
Animal studies have played essential roles in the development of therapies to combat AIDS, several forms of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, paralysis and other medical conditions. While numerous advances have led to new or improved clinical treatments and prevention strategies, there are many diseases where few, if any therapeutic options exist. These include leukemia, breast and pancreatic cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
A fundamental necessity for continued progress
As health researchers, we believe it is our moral imperative to use the proven and effective research process – which involves animals – to continue to make innovative discoveries that positively impact human lives.
We believe in the “Three R” principles of animal welfare – reduction, refinement, and replacement
We understand the tremendous responsibility that comes with animal-based research. We conduct studies with animals only when necessary and provide them with outstanding care. Substantial effort is made to ensure that all procedures are continually refined to minimize pain and distress to the animals. In addition, the number of experimental animals is reduced to the minimum necessary. The personnel who provide our animal care consider it a privilege to work with animals, and demonstrate this commitment daily by treating them with the utmost care and respect.
Internal and external oversight of our animal studies
The University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee reviews and approves all research protocols and procedures that the animals experience. As additional safeguards to the animals, our research program is inspected annually by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and triennially by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), the highest standard of accreditation for US animal research programs. Oversight of our animal research includes not just routine reviews and reports, but also unannounced visits to research and training units, aiming to ensure that animals are treated humanely and with the utmost care. If there is ever a lapse in any process, it is self-reported, and appropriate and timely corrective actions are taken. Actions taken for any non-compliance can be severe, and range from official warnings to fines being imposed on the institution, with the possibility of suspension of work or the revocation of research licenses
We comply with federal laws and regulations including the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations overseen by the USDA. We also closely follow the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Our country’s comprehensive animal care oversight systems require regular communications between research institutions and federal regulators to ensure that animals are treated well and adjustments take place as needed. This system works rapidly and effectively to ensure that animals are well cared for.
Animal studies at the University of Miami have already led to innovative therapies
Animal-based research at the University of Miami continues to contribute to advances in the treatment of serious human medical conditions—examples include:
- Researchers at UM’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis performed animal studies that led to the demonstration that “therapeutic hypothermia”, a slight lowering of the temperature in areas of the central nervous system, can lessen the severity of deficits suffered by people with neurodegenerative conditions like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury
- Animal studies performed by researchers at UM’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute have led to a novel gene therapy that is highly promising in initial human studies to treat Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy—a previously untreatable disease that causes progressive and devastating loss of vision
- Researchers at UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology performed animal studies that led to development of a unique monoclonal antibody that is now part of a novel drug used successfully to treat cancer
The animal research program at the University of Miami encompasses three UM campuses (Medical, Coral Gables, and Marine & Atmospheric Science). The Division of Veterinary Resources (DVR) is the unit responsible for oversight and implementation of the animal care and use program. The mission of the DVR is to advance knowledge and improve the health and well being of humans and animals through excellent service and support, research and teaching.
Access the DVR
All activities are in compliance with federal, state and institutional regulations. The University was granted full accreditation by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC) in February 2005 and received its current re-accreditation November 8, 2016.. In addition, the University is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and has filed a Letter of Assurance with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which describes our animal care and use program.
To contact the DVR, email us or call (305) 243-2310.
Good Laboratory Practices for Animal Research
Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) apply to any animal study for which results will be used to support applications for research or marketing permits for products regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Such products include human and animal drugs or food additives, medical devices for human use, or biological products. GLP apply to studies aimed at establishing the safety of drugs or devices, not to basic exploratory, mechanism of action, or efficacy studies. GLP studies require strict adherence to compliance with standards. Detailed standard operating procedures and record keeping are required for all aspects of the study.
Since the Division of Veterinary Resources at the University of Miami does not incorporate GLP into its standard animal care, results obtained in animal studies at the University cannot be described as GLP compliant at this time and should not be so described in applications to the FDA.
The following links will help you understand when these requirements apply to your research:
University Links and Other Useful Resources
Reporting Animal Welfare Concerns
The humane care and use of animals is of paramount importance to the University of Miami. Concerns regarding the care and use of laboratory animals at the University of Miami can be anonymously reported to:
- University of Miami Compliance Hotline: (866) YOUR-CALL
- Office of the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC): (305) 243-2311
- IACUC Chair: (305) 243-2032
- Office of Research / Institutional Official: (305) 243-9635
- Director of the DVR: (305) 243-2310
Individuals reporting concerns should try to be as specific as possible and include the date, time, species, specific animal identification numbers, and the names of any University personnel involved. Routine animal husbandry concerns should be discussed with the animal caretaker supervisor of the facility.