Animal Subjects   Case Study Review
      The Effects of Alcohol on Rats

A faculty member (researcher) is preparing to submit a protocol to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for an experiment studying the effect of different levels of alcohol on rats’ ability to perform a variety of tasks.

This is the researcher’s first time conducting a study involving animals; she has always used human subjects in the past. As she is very busy conducting studies involving human subjects, she has a graduate student who will actually run the experiments. He has worked on studies involving laboratory animals previously, but not rats.

For convenience, the researcher wants to keep the rats in her laboratory instead of the department’s IACUC-approved animal facility. Although there is adequate space, the laboratory is also where she conducts experiments with human subjects.

As this is her first time working with rats, the researcher discusses the experiment with several colleagues in her department to get an estimate for the range of alcohol doses. She is also unsure of exactly how the experiment will go, so she requests approval for 25% more animals than she knows she needs.

The experiment involves some tasks that could potentially cause short term pain or distress to the animals. However, the researcher thinks that the alcohol will lessen any perception of pain or distress as it can in humans, so she does not include in her protocol any procedures to minimize the pain or distress. Another faculty member in her department has asked if he can have the animals at the end of her study to use in his study involving similar behavioral tasks.