Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International
The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC) is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs.
- In the 1950’s, the Professional Standards Committee of the Animal Care Panel (ACP), now the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), recognized a need for assuring the general public that laboratory animal research was conducted on a professional level, and that standard procedures were applied. This concept represents the beginning of the effort to form an accreditation program for laboratory animal care and use.
- Leading veterinarians and researchers organized the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) in 1965, as a private, nonprofit organization. In the years that followed, AAALAC accredited hundreds of organizations across the United States, raising the benchmark for laboratory animal care to new heights.
- In 1996, AAALAC changed its name to the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC International). The name change reflected the organization’s recognition and expansion in other countries, and its commitment to enhancing life sciences and quality animal care around the world.
- Currently nearly 900 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 40+ countries have earned AAALAC accreditation, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use.
More than 60 prestigious scientific, educational and other professional organizations are members of AAALAC International and are represented on the Board of Trustees.
Some of these “Member Organizations” include:
- American Diabetes Association
- American Heart Association
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- European Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinarians
- Academy of Surgical Research
- The National Association for Biomedical Research
- The Society of Toxicology
- Many more
Participation on the AAALAC International Board demonstrates their members’ commitment to the responsible and humane use of animals in science.
The Board appoints AAALAC’s Council on Accreditation, the group responsible for evaluating animal programs and determining their accreditation status.
Members of the Council are chosen to serve based on their extensive experience in the fields of veterinary medicine, laboratory animal science or animal research, and their commitment to humane animal care and use. The Council is divided into North American, European and Pacific Rim Sections.
The Council conducts on-site visits and extensive evaluations, and provides ongoing advice to help organizations achieve and maintain accreditation. The Council also appoints a roster of ad hoc consultants. These consultants assist the Council members with their evaluations and provide expertise in specific areas, such as management, international regulations, or certain scientific specialties.
AAALAC International relies on three primary standards used by the Council to evaluate programs:
- The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide, NRC 2011);
- The Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (the Ag Guide, FASS 2010); and
- The European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals Used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes, Council of Europe (ETS 123).
UTSA and AAALAC Accreditation
DATE OF INITIAL ACCREDITATION: October 26, 2010
Preparation for Visit
Institutions choose to participate in the AAALAC accreditation program for a variety of reasons.
It represents quality.
Organizations and companies look for ways to communicate their commitment to excellence. In the scientific community, AAALAC International accreditation shows that an institution is serious about setting, achieving and maintaining high standards for animal care and use and committed to animal welfare in science. AAALAC International offers the only international accreditation for animal care and use programs, and it has become recognized around the world as a sign of quality and good science.
It promotes scientific validity.
When research involves animals, reliable scientific results depend on superior animal care. AAALAC International accreditation engages scientists, veterinarians, managers and administrators in an independent, rigorous assessment of their institution’s animal program—an assessment that ultimately results in improved animal welfare and better research practices and outcomes.
It provides assurance in a global marketplace.
Today it’s common for research institutions to partner or contract with other research entities around the world. Because laws and regulations related to animal research vary widely from country to country, AAALAC International accreditation can be used worldwide as a way to gauge the quality of a particular program, harmonize animal care and use practices, and provide assurance to diverse stakeholders.
It’s a recruiting tool.
AAALAC International accredited institutions can use their accreditation as a recruiting tool to attract the best and brightest researchers and professors. Talented professionals look for high quality programs to support their research. Accreditation assures potential employees that the institution is dedicated to achieving the highest standards for animal care and use.
It demonstrates accountability.
In today’s world, companies and organizations are held to very high levels of accountability—by their own constituents and the general public. Although animal research is a controversial issue for some, most people support biomedical research if it’s conducted in a humane manner. Accreditation through AAALAC International is voluntary and demonstrates a willingness to go above and beyond the minimums required by law. It tells the public that the institution is committed to the responsible care and use of animals in science.
It provides a confidential peer-review.
AAALAC accreditation requires an institution to first perform its own self-evaluation (an extremely valuable exercise for any institution to undertake). Next, a team of highly qualified AAALAC representatives provides an in-depth, confidential, on-site evaluation of the institution’s animal care and use program. This independent peer-review ensures that the institution’s program is meeting AAALAC International standards.
It stimulates continuous improvement.
When an institution participates in the AAALAC accreditation program, it’s committing to a process that stimulates continuous improvement. Earning and maintaining accreditation keeps an institution aware of, and engaged in, current best practices. Accreditation is a true commitment to humane animal care and use and shows the world that an institution is serious about ensuring animal well-being and conducting good science.