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New online system for animal research protocols set to launch

Oct. 1, 2015, 9:54 AM

Animal Research Information Enterprise System (ARIES), a new online system for submitting animal research protocols, will be launched at Vanderbilt University on Oct. 12.

Researchers who work with animals are required by federal law to submit detailed descriptions, called “protocols,” in which they must justify why their studies will be done using animals, how many animals are needed, the details of the experiments, and how they will monitor animal welfare.

“Much of the biomedical research at Vanderbilt involves the use of experimental animals, the vast majority of which are mice,” said Ronald Emeson, Ph.D., chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and Joel G. Hardman Professor of Pharmacology.

While computer modeling or cell lines can be used in some studies, “if you’re trying to understand complex physiological systems, such as how the brain or heart works, you ultimately need to use a live animal,” Emeson said.

At the same time, he added, “we have a responsibility that if we are going to use animals for biomedical research, we must treat them in the most humane way possible.”

After submission, protocols are reviewed and approved by the IACUC, a group of 24 scientists, non-scientists and community members.

Roughly 750 protocols or protocol amendments are submitted to the Vanderbilt IACUC each year. “Currently there are about 1,000 active protocols,” Emeson said.

“The new protocol management system was created at Vanderbilt and is designed to streamline the submission and review process,” he said.

ARIES was developed over the past five years by a diverse group led by Christia Victor, application development manager in the Office of Research. It has been tested on a pilot basis since June.

Emeson, who also is director of the Office of Animal Welfare Assurance (OAWA), will introduce the new system at an ARIES launch event on Monday, Oct. 12, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the north lobby of Light Hall.

A brief overview of the software’s features will be given at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. in Light Hall room 208. OAWA protocol analysts will be available to give demonstrations and help investigators set up ARIES accounts.

The launch event will also feature representatives from Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety, Occupational Health Clinic and the Division of Animal Care.

For more information, visit the Vanderbilt IACUC/OAWA Web portal or contact the Office of Animal Welfare Assurance at 615-936-8163.

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