Since the NIH instituted the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy - in 1971, it has been modified to cover all PHS funded activity.  In 1985, the U.S. Congress passed the Health Research Extension Act, an amendment to the US Public Health Service Act that included a statutory requirement for the Policy.  The PHS Policy is intended to implement and supplement the “U.S. Government Principles for the Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training” (US Government Principles). Whenever U.S. government agencies develop requirements for the use of animals in research, teaching or testing, these nine principles are considered, and whenever these agencies sponsor or conduct such procedures, these principles must be followed. To read the full text of the U.S. Principles, see:


In order to receive PHS funds, an institution must have on file an acceptable Animal Welfare Assurance (Assurance) that describes in detail the programs in place to assure compliance with the PHS Policy, the institution's accreditation status with the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care – International (AAALAC), and the composition of the IACUC along with the policies and procedures that they use.  Institutions must file a report each year detailing any changes in the institution’s programs and facilities. While the composition of the IACUC required by the AWA is slightly different from that required by the PHS, the functions are basically the same with a major addition. The PHS requires that an institution's programs follow the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals as well as the AWA and its regulations.


The PHS Policy is administered by the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. In carrying out its oversight responsibility, OLAW evaluates all allegations or indications of noncompliance with the PHS Policy that come from any source, including the institution itself. Under the PHS Policy, institutions are required to report any serious or continuing noncompliance to OLAW.  The PHS may do site visits for cause, but they rely on the institution and the IACUC to assure compliance. Following evaluation of complaints or allegations, OLAW typically provides the opportunity for institutions to correct problems and works with the institution toward that end.  However, if corrections are not made satisfactorily, OLAW has authority to suspend the institution’s approved Assurance, without which the institution cannot receive federal funds.  For more information on the PHS Policy see:


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