There are special requirements for writing a grant when research involving animals is proposed. It is important to understand the specific elements needed in proposals concerning research using animals. The links below provide information about applying for funding and improving experimental design when using animals.
For Researchers: Animal care and use elements of the grants process
Proposals involving the use of vertebrates must include a discussion of 5 points regarding the use and treatment of animals in the Research Design and Methods section: 1) the proposed use of the animals, 2) a justification for the use of animals, the choice of species, and the numbers to be used, 3) description of the veterinary care, 4) a description of procedures for minimizing pain and distress, and 5) a description of and rationale for the method of euthanasia. See the Grants.gov Application Guide SF424 (R&R) (MS Word - 2.5 MB) for more information on applying for grants. NIAID’s tutorial How to Write an Application Involving Research Animals provides more information on the grant application process. Or consider listening to a podcast on Writing Your Vertebrate Animal Section.
All grants undergo peer review that includes consideration of the use of animals in the proposal. If the peer review panel has a concern about the use of animals, the proposal is flagged. The investigator will have the opportunity to clarify or correct the concern. If satisfactory, the proposal may go forward to be considered for funding.
Animal Welfare Assurance
NIH will not make an award for research involving live vertebrate animals unless the applicant organization and all performance sites are operating in accordance with an approved Animal Welfare Assurance and provide verification that the IACUC has reviewed and approved those sections of the application that involve use of vertebrate animals, in accordance with the requirements of the Policy (see “IACUC Review”, below).
Researchers who proposes to use animals as part of their projects must submit a detailed description of the experiments and a scientific justification of the need for the use of animals not only to the NIH, as discussed above, but also to their local Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC is charged with confirming that the research will be conducted with the provisions of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Under “just-in-time” provisions, a proposal is not required to have local IACUC approval to be peer-reviewed. However, the NIH will not fund the research until the IACUC has reviewed and approved the proposal to use animals.
Post award Change of Scope
In general, the principle investigator (PI) may make changes in the methodology, approach, or other aspects of the project objectives. However, the grantee must obtain prior approval from the NIH awarding office for a change in the direction, type of research or training, or other areas that constitute a significant change from the aims, objectives, or purposes of the approved project. The grantee must make the initial determination of the significance of a change and will consult with the Grants Management Officer and Project Officer as necessary. A change of animal species is likely to be considered a change of scope. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement to learn more about post award changes of scope. Some changes may require IACUC approval. See OLAW’s frequently asked question “What is considered a significant change to a project that would require IACUC review?” to learn more.
For Researchers: NIH animal models resources
- ALTBIB provides a bibliography of alternatives to animal models, including links to non-NIH resources
- The NIH established the NIH Model Organism Sharing Policy to encourage sharing and dissemination of important research resources throughout the scientific community.
- The Trans-NIH Mouse Initiatives provide an example of a model organism sharing program.
- Many of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) have resources for scientists who are working with animal models. The NIH Resources for Animal Models page describes some of their libraries, databases and other programs
For Institutions: Animal care and use elements of the grants process
Animal Welfare Assurance
NIH will not make an award for research involving live vertebrate animals unless the applicant organization and all performance sites are operating in accordance with an approved Animal Welfare Assurance. OLAW provides Animal Welfare Assurance sample documents and a list of domestic and foreign Assured Institutions among its OLAW Fast Facts.
Allowable Expenses (Source NIH Grants Policy Statement, Chapter 7.9.1 - Selected Items of Cost section on animals).
Expenses are allowable for the acquisition, care, and use of experimental animals, contingent upon compliance with the applicable requirements of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (see “NIH Grants Policy Statement—Animal Welfare).
If the grantee operates an animal resource facility, charges for use of the facility should be determined in accordance with the Cost Analysis and Rate Setting Manual for Animal Resource Facilities (PDF, 32 MB) - May 2000
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Expenses not allowed during Noncompliance
No costs for activities with live vertebrate animals may be charged to NIH if there is not a valid Animal Welfare Assurance and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval. This notice is applicable to grants and cooperative agreements involving activities with live vertebrate animals. The NIH Policy on Allowable Costs for Grants Involving Animals when Terms and Conditions are not Upheld (NOT-OD-07-044) explains this policy in full.