Notice of Memorandum of Understanding Between NIH and NSF Concerning Laboratory Animal Welfare

Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-139

Key Dates
Release Date: August 10, 2015

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


This Notice announces a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Memorandum of Understanding
NIH and NSF operate under a MOU to ensure consistent and effective oversight of the welfare of animals used in activities funded by the NSF. The agreement provides a framework to enhance communication and harmonize the agencies' efforts while reducing regulatory burden to supported institutions. The MOU is posted at

Impact on NSF-supported institutions
Effective October 1, 2015, institutions receiving NSF support must:

  • include NSF-supported activities with live vertebrate animals as covered activities in their OLAW Animal Welfare Assurance (Assurance); and
  • promptly report situations involving NSF-supported animal activities to OLAW as required by the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Policy) Section IV.F.3.

What OLAW will do
OLAW will:

  • negotiate new Assurances for institutions with pending NSF awards;
  • review and evaluate noncompliance reports and the actions taken involving NSF-supported activities; and
  • report findings to NSF.

OLAW is responsible for administration and implementation of the PHS Policy. The Policy requires institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all animals involved in research, research training, and biological testing activities. Institutions receiving PHS funding through grants, contracts or cooperative agreements for research involving vertebrate animals are required to comply with the PHS Policy.

NSF holds its awardees responsible for the humane care and treatment of any vertebrate animal used or intended for use in such activities as field or laboratory research, development, training, experiments, biological testing or for related purposes supported by NSF grants, contracts or cooperative agreements. Any NSF awardee performing research on vertebrate animals must comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) [7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq.], the AWA regulations [9 CFR 1.1-4.11], the PHS Policy, and the U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training. The awardee must follow the guidelines described in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals.


For questions or further information, contact:

Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-496-7163