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Animal Ethics Committee

The University of Otago is an internationally recognised research institution that conducts teaching and research involving the use of animals.

More about the use of animals in research and teaching at the University of Otago

Purpose

All University of Otago staff and students are required to obtain permission from a University of Otago Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to undertake manipulations on animals for research and teaching (the University of Otago does not permit or conduct animal testing).

The primary function of the AEC is to review Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) submitted by Principal Investigators, to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (1999) and the University's Code of Ethical Conduct. This ensures very high ethical standards for the use of animals at the University of Otago.

Among other things, researchers are required to minimise the ethical cost of animal use by applying the three Rs:

  1. Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques or avoid the use of animals.
  2. Reduce the number of animals to a minimum required to achieve the scientific requirements.
  3. Refine the way experiments are carried out to reduce animal suffering and enhance animal welfare.

All students intending to use animals must read the University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals. The Principal Investigator for all AUPs submitted to the Animal Ethics Committee for student use, must be a University of Otago staff member.

University of Otago Code of Ethical Conduct for the Use of Animals (PDF)

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Terms of Reference

The key functions of the AEC are as follows:

  • to ensure that the highest ethical standards are observed by all persons associated with it, in relation to the manipulation and use of animals.
  • to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), by all persons named on approved AEC protocols.
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Committee composition and membership

The University has two Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) that review applications from its three campuses (Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington). The members of the AECs include academics representing the scientific disciplines using animals, as well as lay members who are not involved in research, representing the wider community. This composition provides an understanding of what constitutes high quality research, excellent animal welfare, and the values of the public.

Each committee has: a senior academic representing the Code Holder (Vice-Chancellor); a number of research scientists representing the life sciences; external members nominated by the NZ Vet Association, an approved animal welfare organisation (such as RNZSPCA) and the local Regional Council; up to 8 additional members appointed by the Code Holder.

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Relevant legislation and links to relevant national bodies

Research at the University of Otago complies with all legislation applicable to animal welfare. This includes, but is not restricted to:

  • The Animal Welfare Act 1991
  • The Agricultural Compounds & Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
  • The Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996

Animal use and welfare is strictly monitored by several national bodies including:

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Training

The University has an extensive training programme for researchers applying to use animals in research and teaching. This includes modules on applicable legislation, handling and restraint techniques, drug administration and surgical procedures.

Please visit the website of the Animal Welfare Office for further information.

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Applying for ethical approval

In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including the Animal Welfare Amendment Act No. 2 (2015), Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) must be submitted for the following:

  1. The manipulation of live animals in RTT
  2. The killing of animals for their tissue
  3. The breeding or production of animals for RTT that may result in the birth or production of animals that are more susceptible to, or at greater risk of, pain or distress during its life.

The AEC is responsible for the review of monitoring of animal welfare during protocol procedures, and end of project reports.

The AEC reviews and comments on other business related to animal use for RTT at the University of Otago.

Furthermore, all modifications to existing AUPs, including changes to animal numbers, changes to manipulations, and the addition of personnel, require approval from the AEC.

If the changes involve a major departure from the approved AUPs, a significant increase in numbers, or a change in impact grade, a new AUP should be submitted.

General enquiries should be directed to the relevant Secretary of the Animal Ethics Committee (see below).

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Forms

Applications for approval of Animal Use Protocols must be made via the Integrated Animal Research Management System (IARMS). Please click here for more information about IARMS, including 'How to create an AUP Guide', 'How to modify an AUP form' and a list of the University of Otago approved SOPs. (Access for registered IARMS users only). Modifications to existing AUPs (approved pre-January 2018) must also be via IARMS.  Training courses for using IARMS are available from ITS. Contextual help is embedded in the online form.

Please use the IARMS New User Application Form to request access to IARMS. (PDF)

Once completed, the form should be sent to iarms.admin@otago.ac.nz.

Expiring AUP forms:

Upon AUP expiry/closure, you will receive a notification to complete a Project Evaluation Form and Animal Statistics Form. Once completed, these will be attached to the relevant AUP in IARMS. Guidelines for completing the animal statistics form can be found on the MPI website.

2020 animal use statistics form (DOCX)

2020 project evaluation form (DOCX)

ITS training for IARMS

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The approval process and notification of the review outcome

Following Committee review, the applicant will be advised of the outcome via IARMS, normally within 7–10 days of the meeting. Applicants can contact the AEC Secretary after the meeting for further information about the status of their application.

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Dunedin AEC (Rimu) application deadlines and meeting dates

All applications (either new or modifications) must be submitted to AEC Admin Review on IARMS.

Before submitting to AEC admin review, compliance reviews are required for: use of Restricted Veterinary Medicines (RVMs), new organisms, uncleared biologicals, radiation and chemical safety and occupational health (see Section 11 of the AUP, accessible via IARMS, for compliance reviewers’ emails.) Compliance reviewers’ approval must be stated in Section 15.1 with the date they gave their approval. Allow minimum 5 days for compliance review.

A pre-review of all new AUPs by the Animal Welfare Officer is encouraged, to provide veterinary input into the potential impact of the manipulations on an animal’s welfare. This can include a review of potential welfare impacts of the manipulations, any treatments, surgery, pain management, management of potential adverse effects, husbandry considerations, and environmental enrichments. This process aims to identify any welfare concerns in the study that can be addressed by the PI prior to being reviewed by the AEC.

John Curran
Animal Welfare Officer
Email john.curran@otago.ac.nz (include AUP number)

2023 dates

Compliance review deadline
(allow min. 5 working days)
Submit to AEC admin review
(after completion of compliance review, if required – see above)
Signing deadline AEC 2023 meeting dates
Mon 9 Jan Mon 16 Jan Fri 20 Jan Wed 1 Feb
Thu 2 Feb Mon 13 Feb Fri 17 Feb Wed 1 Mar
Thu 9 Mar Mon 20 Mar Fri 24 Mar Wed 5 Apr
Tue 4 Apr Mon 17 Apr Fri 21 Apr Wed 3 May
Fri 5 May Tue 16 May Mon 22 May Wed 7 Jun
Thu 8 Jun Mon 19 Jun Fri 23 Jun Wed 5 Jul
Thu 6 Jul Mon 17 Jul Fri 21 Jul Wed 2 Aug
Thu 10 Aug Mon 21 Aug Fri 25 Aug Wed 6 Sep
Thu 7 Sep Mon 18 Sep Fri 22 Sep Wed 4 Oct
Thu 5 Oct Mon 16 Oct Fri 20 Oct Wed 1 Nov
Thu 9 Nov Mon 20 Nov Fri 24 Nov Wed 6 Dec

AUPs from the University of Otago northern campuses can be submitted to the Dunedin AEC (Rimu) until a second committee is established.

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Contacts

AEC key contact personnel

AEC Secretary – IARMS System

Email AEC@otago.ac.nz

Other useful contacts

To discuss animal welfare issues and experimental design relevant to your AEC application, please contact:

The Animal Welfare Office

Other information

The University has AEC equivalence; a protocol approved by any local Otago University AEC gives approval for animal use at all three Schools, subject to local arrangements with the Animal Facility Manager.

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