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Commitment to Animal Care

Northwestern University is committed to conducting exemplary and responsible research to further science and benefit society. We regard animal research as a privilege. The following framework guides our work.

Research excellence

Medical breakthroughs—such as antibiotics, anesthetics, heart valve replacements, and vaccines to prevent rabies in companion animals—all have involved animal research. Since 1901, nearly every Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology has been awarded for innovations dependent on data from animal models. Also, federal government requirements stipulate that new medicines and treatment must be evaluated in a living organism before being administered to humans.

It is true that non-animal techniques, such as cell cultures and computer simulations, are important and play a part in our advances. However, these methods cannot yet mirror the complex and sometimes unpredictable interactions within a living system.

Humane care

Northwestern conducts research with great respect for the unique contributions that animals make to improving health, preventing disease, and saving lives. Our investigators, veterinarians, technicians, and husbandry staff all are dedicated to providing superb humane animal care. Northwestern also subscribes to the "3Rs" principles as a framework for science involving animal models: replacement, reduction and refinement. Investigators carefully design research projects and continually refine procedures to reduce the number of animals involved and to replace them, wherever possible, with non-animal methods.

National regulations

Northwestern research and animal facilities are rigorously reviewed, inspected, and regulated at federal and institutional levels. We are enthusiastic partners in this process.


The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews and approves protocols for Northwestern's program for the humane care and use of animals, inspects the animal facilities and investigator laboratories, and reports its findings to the Associate Vice President for Research. It also makes recommendations to the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies regarding any aspect of the institution's animal program, facilities, or personnel training.

Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM)

The Center for Comparative Medicine (Formerly CEAR) is the centrally administered animal resource that acts as a service and teaching unit for all use of animals in research, testing, and education at Northwestern University.

Committee on Animal Resources (CAR)

The Committee on Animal Resources is a standing committee of senior faculty who serve as liaison between faculty, Northwestern central administration, and the Center for Comparative Medicine on matters relating to all aspects of animal care and use.

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