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UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley awarded accreditation for animal care program

– The organization that examines and accredits animal care and use programs around the world has given the University of California, Berkeley's program another thumbs up, awarding it the prized accreditation it has maintained through four site visits since 1994.

Three representatives of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, known as AAALAC, visited the campus Oct. 1 and 2 last year, touring every animal facility on campus, reviewing many animal care and use records and visiting many faculty laboratories.

The team's comments were uniformly positive, and its recommendation for full accreditation was approved by the AAALAC Council on Accreditation this month.

"It is the fourth successive triennial site visit by AAALAC that has resulted in a recommendation for full accreditation, and it is a testimony to the consistently high quality of our animal care and use program," said Richard C. Van Sluyters, UC Berkeley professor of optometry and chair of the campus's Animal Care & Use Committee (ACUC), which reviews all proposed uses of animals in research and teaching.

"This is rare for an academic institution, and we are very proud of the accomplishment," added veterinarian Helen E. Diggs, director of the campus's Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC).

In a March 3 letter to UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research Beth Burnside, Michael B. Ballinger, president of the Council on Accreditation, wrote, "The Council commends you and your staff for providing and maintaining a high quality program of laboratory animal care and use. Especially noteworthy were the capable and enthusiastic personnel, the intensive oversight provided by the
Animal Care and Use Committee and the sound program of occupational health and safety."

The site visit team had only a few minor suggestions for improving the campus program, which have since been implemented, Van Sluyters said.

UC Berkeley first applied for AAALAC accreditation in 1994 after a complete reorganization and consolidation of campus animal care. The scientific community voluntarily participates in AAALAC's accreditation program. A private, nonprofit organization, AAALAC evaluates organizations and companies using animals in research, teaching or testing, and awards accreditation to those that exceed the minimum standards for the care and use of laboratory animals established in federal regulations and policy. More than 650 institutions in 19 countries have received AAALAC accreditation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Public Health Service look for AAALAC accreditation among the institutions that receive government research funds, including those from the National Institutes of Health. Both federal agencies conduct their own reviews, however, while the campus ACUC committee also evaluates UC Berkeley's overall program for animal care and use, inspecting all campus animal facilities at least twice yearly, investigating specific complaints about animal use and recommending institutional animal care and use policies.

OLAC animal technicians provide daily care at UC Berkeley for over 30,000 animals. Sixty-five percent are mice and 25 percent are cold-blooded animals, such as amphibians, fish and reptiles. Nine percent are other rodents -rats, hamsters and wild rodents - while the remaining one percent is comprised of rabbits, cats, non-human primates, hyenas, birds and invertebrates, such as hissing cockroaches and ants.