UTSA receives AAALAC International accreditation for animal-care program

accreditation recipient

University veterinarian Marcel Perret-Gentil (left) receives accreditation award from Marianne Woods, UTSA senior associate vice president for research, and Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research
(Photo by Mark McClendon)

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(Dec. 13, 2010)--The University of Texas at San Antonio has received full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International, a nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in scientific research. More than 800 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and research institutions in 33 countries are AAALAC-accredited including the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, American Red Cross and National Institutes of Health.

"AAALAC accreditation is the gold standard for animal research facilities," said Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research. "Our Laboratory Animal Resources Center has worked diligently for three years to earn this accreditation. It is a mark of distinction and an exceptional accomplishment that demonstrates UTSA is committed to the highest standards in animal research."

Led by university veterinarian Marcel Perret-Gentil, D.V.M., M.S., the UTSA Laboratory Animal Resources Center (LARC) oversees the care and use of UTSA research animals such as rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Additionally, LARC serves as a facilitator for the UTSA Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), a federally mandated and internal regulatory body that includes individuals affiliated with UTSA and representatives of the general public. The IACUC regularly reviews the entire UTSA animal care program to ensure that the use of animals is justified, the number of animals used is minimized and each animal research project stays within the prescribed limit of the approved proposal.

To earn AAALAC accreditation, Perret-Gentil and the LARC team developed and implemented dozens of internal processes designed to ensure UTSA's animals receive the best possible care. Among those processes are standards to ensure the animals receive proper bedding, feed and enrichment materials from vendors that the LARC team has evaluated before doing business.

Additionally, the animals are monitored daily and sick animal reports are attended to immediately to ensure all reported animals receive prompt and adequate veterinary care. To avoid placing undue stress on the animals, species are separated. The LARC staff also adheres to a strictly timed routine and provides animals with exceptional post-operative care.

The processes not only ensure humane care, but they collectively ensure that UTSA researchers obtain reliable data using the least number of animals possible and minimize repeat testing.

"We are in this job because we love animals," said Luis Zorrilla, LARC assistant director. "We want to serve as advocates for the animals and ensure they receive proper care."

Animal research has led to the development and/or improvement of a variety of medical treatments including, but not limited to, blood transfusions, anesthesia, painkillers, antibiotics, insulin, vaccines, chemotherapy, CPR, coronary bypass survey, reconstructive surgery and orthopedic surgery.