Quick Links

Animals in Research and Teaching

University Animal Care Committee

The University Animal Care Committee (UACC) site is supported by the Animal Compliance Team (ACO) in the Office of Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). Our Animal Care Program includes all Faculties at McGill University as well as Affiliated Hopsital Research Institutes: the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Montreal Neurological Instute (MNI), Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) and the Shriners Hospital for Children. 

The program holds a certificate of ‘Good Animal Practice’ from the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC list of certified institutions). We are also certified by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Health Service (PHS) under the 'Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals' with an Assurance number A-5006-01.

Anyone who needs to work with live animals in research and teaching must obtain approval prior to acquiring and handling animals. The process may take up to two months for complex projects.

Quick link to Darwin software, the on-line protocol management software.


The following steps are to be followed by researchers and instructors wishing to work with animals:

    1. If you do not already have access to the on-line software Darwin, please make a request by completing the Darwin Access Request Web form
    2. Once access is obtained, complete and submit an Animal Use Protocol application in Darwin. If needed, revise as per committee recommendations again via Darwin
    3. Be aware that there are training requirements for all those handling animals and principal investigators.
    4. Once an Animal Use Protocol is approved, you can start working with animals.


Assistance available for researchers and instructors:

  • For obtaining access to Darwin, how to complete an animal use protocol application and reporting software issues, you can send an email to darwin [dot] vprir [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Darwin Support).
  • Asking the Veterinarians for procedure or design related questions.
  • Coordinators of Animal Care Committees for submission deadlines or matters related to the Animal Use Protocol review process.
  • Animal Facility staff for ordering and housing related matters.


Important to know that:

  • Everyone working with live animals must take and pass the theory and at least register for practical training before the project can be approved;
  • Participation into the Occupational Health Program for Animal Related Activities is highly recommended but is mandatory for those working with non-human primates;
  • Only a McGill or Affiliated Hospital faculty member, a Veterinarian or an animal facility manager can be a Principal Investigator for an Animal Use Protocol.
  • For research projects which are not from a peer reviewed source of funding, internal peer review for scientific merit is required to document scientific merit. Contact your Faculty or Director's Office to make the request. If the funds are from a commercial source and was peer reviewed, a letter from the company stating this must be attached to the protocol;
  • Animals requiring approval are:
    • all living vertebrates and fish, including higher cephalopods (octopuses and squids).
    • animals held, even for a short period,
    • wild animals that will be handled, tagged, fitted with transmitters, given food/nests, restrained, measured, etc (no approval needed if only observing them from afar),
    • for tissue collection (unless the animal comes from an abattoir or other source where the animals were not obtained for your project specifically).

Please read this letter issued in 2007 by Prof. Denis Thérien, who was Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations); Prof. Anthony Masi, Provost; and Dr. Richard Levin, who was Vice-Principal (Health Affairs):
Letter from the Administration to the community about the Animal Care Program.pdf

Investigators are responsible for complying with CFIA regulations concerning feeds, biologicals and drugs for livestock animals destined for the food supply. They must consult with CFIA’s Schedule IV or V, list of approved veterinary biologics, Compendium of Medicating Ingredient Brochures, and/or for obtaining a Research Exemption or Safety Assessment from CFIA at www.inspection.gc.ca. Investigators are advised to consult with the Chair of the FACC or the University Veterinarian in planning these initiatives.

Committee information, policies & guidelines, training and animal related information and documents are found on this Web site as well as the Theory course.

For general information about animal research, please read our pamphlet:

In English: Animal Research pamphlet - English [.pdf]
In French:  animaux_en_recherche_brochure_-_francais.pdf  

Questions can be sent by animalcare [at] mcgill [dot] ca (email).