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MOU Between NIH and NSF Concerning Laboratory Animal Welfare

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-139 announces a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The MOU affects institutions receiving NSF funding for activities involving animals. Effective October 1, 2015, institutions receiving NSF support must:

  1. Include NSF-supported activities with live vertebrate animals as covered activities in their OLAW Animal Welfare Assurance; and
  2. Promptly report situations involving NSF-supported animal activities to OLAW as required by the PHS Policy Section IV.F.3

What to do?

If you have a PHS Assurance and NSF-supported animal activities:

  • Do not submit a new Assurance.
  • In your 2015 annual report to OLAW, indicate that you have a program change and attach an update to your Assurance Part I. Applicability section so that it reads: I. Applicability of Assurance – “This Assurance applies whenever this Institution conducts the following activities: all research, research training, experimentation, biological testing, and related activities involving live vertebrate animals supported by the PHS and NSF. This Assurance covers only those facilities and components listed below.”  

If you have NSF-supported animal activities and no PHS Assurance:

  • NSF will notify OLAW that a PHS Assurance is needed. Then OLAW will contact your institution to negotiate an Assurance.

If you have an incident of noncompliance or adverse event on an NSF-supported animal activity:

  • After October 1, 2015, you will need to report these situations to OLAW.


For questions about your Assurance, email

For questions about the reporting requirements, email

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