The care of animals is a shared responsibility between the University and our investigators and instructors. Most institutions recognize that animal resources are specialized professionally, economically, and organizationally and that it is preferable to have one centralized unit responsible for all research and teaching animal resources. At UAF the Animal Resource Center is this one centralized unit.

Animals play an essential role in meeting the core mission and themes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Involving animals in our research and teaching programs helps to engage students as well as to increase our knowledge in biomedical, agricultural, wildlife, and basic biological sciences. At UAF, our Animal Care Program requires that all research activities involving animals must advance human, animal, environmental health and/or add to or improve our fundamental knowledge of a basic biological system.

In all areas of research, it is known that constant, dependable experimental conditions are essential in order to obtain reproducible and reliable information. This is of critical importance when working with animals. Managing human bias and preventing the inadvertent introduction of uncontrolled variables is fundamental to ensuring high quality science. In a living organism, there are two basic sources of variation — genetic and environmental. Accurately defined, standardized, properly housed and properly fed animals are needed in order to accomplish meaningful research. Use of animals that have been improperly fed; housed in substandard, crowded, unsanitary conditions; harboring overt or latent diseases; or maintained in an environment which results in abnormal behavioral and physiological responses compromises and brings into question the validity of research accomplished.

Also, there is concern for the comfort and well-being of the animals themselves. It is unacceptable to subject them to needless suffering or deprivation. Scientific, legal, and ethical considerations have prompted standards that are becoming increasingly comprehensive and rigorous for the handling, care, and use of experimental animals.

A third factor involved in animal care is that of fiscal responsibility. In the face of current financial limitations on animal-based research, from an institutional perspective, centralized management of the animal resources offers more efficient and economical use of personnel, equipment, and space while concurrently providing appropriate care and housing of animals.