Graduate Student Animal Research

Any research, teaching, or testing using live, vertebrate animals by Texas A&M graduate students requires the submission of an Animal Use Protocol (AUP).

The AUP must be reviewed and fully approved by the appropriate animal care and use committee before a student may acquire, house, or use animals. This includes any student of Texas A&M/Texas A&M AgriLife who plans to use animals as part of his or her dissertation or thesis project, regardless of the proposed research project, the actual site of the research, or the species of vertebrate animal being used.

Graduate students often join research projects after the project has begun and the AUP approval has been obtained. If a graduate student’s work is being done under an existing AUP that is approved and active, then the principal investigator of the approved AUP must do the following:

  • Update the AUP by submitting an amendment to add the student to the approved personnel list, describing the student’s experience and how he or she will be trained
  • Assure that the student is appropriately trained in the care and use of animals (i.e., take responsibility for training or direct the student to CMP training courses)

The amendment request must specifically address how a student will be trained for the proposed animal procedures.

If a graduate student’s research work is not covered under an existing AUP that is approved and active, then an AUP must be completed, submitted, and approved by the appropriate committee before the research is initiated.

The two exceptions to this requirement for AUP submission are:

  1. Observational field studies (i.e., observation of vertebrate animals under field conditions) in which the student does not touch the animal or alter its normal environment or behavior in any way.
  2. Studies in which a student’s activities are based exclusively on analysis of stored animal tissues or samples which were collected and stored under a previously approved AUP. Any new collection work to obtain tissues requires submission of a new AUP.

The Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) proposal cover page asks whether vertebrate animals are to be used in a student’s research. If this box is checked, OGS will not approve the proposal until they are certain an approved AUP covers the research. To verify that the research is approved, the student must submit a copy of a cover page of an approved AUP for the proposed research to OGS along with the proposal. Approval of AUPs can take several weeks. AUPs should be submitted at the start of a graduate student’s research program, NOT just before the proposal deadline.

Students should seek assistance on this matter from the Animal Welfare Assurance Program staff at 979.845.1828, or the Attending Veterinarian at 979.845.7433.