Office of Responsible Research Practices
The Ohio State University


Guidelines for animal colony maintenance during the university state of emergency

Posted: March 31, 2020

Updated March 30, 2020


It is imperative during this time that we minimize the number of individuals coming to campus.  However, we must also ensure the safety and welfare of our research animals and maintain colonies where possible. Experimental activities should have been discontinued at this time, and access to the vivarium is limited to activities required for colony maintenance (with the exception of approved COVID-19 research activities).

ULAR staff are continuing to work and are currently on a split schedule to maximize physical distancing.


Can I come in to the vivarium to wean and genotype my mice?
Essential colony maintenance to ensure continuity of research once this crisis passes is allowed.  Labs should have one designated essential personnel lab member, approved by the appropriate Associate or Vice Dean for Research or CCC leadership, who will be responsible for doing all the lab’s weaning/cage separation/genotyping activities on a weekly or twice weekly basis depending upon the colony size. If more than one designated staff member is needed, the number of individuals can be increased with approval from the appropriate Associate or Vice Dean for Research or CCC leadership as appropriate for the size of the colony(s). The designated lab member should plan to do the work at a time when the animal care staff will not be present in the room to promote social distancing.  If you wish to access the vivarium, please contact the ULAR team lead for your area, or the clinical veterinarian assigned to your area (see link below).  They will work with you to arrange access times that do not overlap with animal care staff and/or other investigators, to maintain appropriate social distancing.

We need you to delay all non-necessary genotyping at this time recognizing that this may need to be done depending on how long the restrictions are ongoing. If genotyping must occur, approval is needed by the respective college or the CCC as applicable. ULAR technical support can provide weaning service for your lab. Download the Request for Technical Services form.

My animals are enrolled in a long term study that started before the COVID crisis. Can I continue this study or do I need to terminate it?
Study timepoints should be altered to delay activities until the State of Emergency is lifted. If that is not feasible and/or there are concerns for animal welfare then you must speak with your college or CCC leadership, as applicable, and ULAR, for approval for an exception. If an exception is approved, you must limit the number of personnel doing animal work and conduct the work at a time when the animal care staff will not be present in the room to promote social distancing. If tissue harvesting is required, a designated laboratory staff member must be approved by the appropriate college or CCC. Please store tissues appropriately in your freezers and do not perform experiments or start primary cultures until restrictions are lifted. Work with your Associate or Vice Dean for Research to avoid overlap in personnel entering the research spaces.

Do I need to greatly reduce the number of cages I have to reduce the workload on ULAR staff?
ULAR staff are considered essential personnel, and are fully staffed to provide the animal care.  Staff are now working a split shift (morning team or afternoon team) to reduce the number of personnel present in the vivarium and support areas at any one time. At this time, ULAR does not anticipate staffing shortages that would impact their ability to provide adequate animal care. Changes in staffing may occur over time, and if services are impacted, investigators will be notified.

My IACUC protocol says I will do weekly measurement of tumors and weighing of mice. Will IACUC take action against me for not doing this during this Emergency State?
The IACUC recognizes the State of Emergency declared by the University restricts the ability of research personnel to conduct routine activities therefore the IACUC will not penalize researchers for not conducting routine monitoring during this period. ULAR technical staff can help monitor the animals condition if you anticipate that your research interventions may result in welfare issues during the State of Emergency. Download the Request for Technical Services form.

Can ULAR euthanize animals that they identify meet ERC, or have health issues for me?
Certainly.  If you have special needs for tissue collection for animals that ULAR euthanizes, please arrange with the ULAR technical staff pre-emptively so that supplies can be readily available. Download the Request for Technical Services form. If you are performing tissue harvesting for an animal that meets ERC, please follow guidelines noted above for mice in long-term studies. Euthanasia that is needed due to a welfare concern is done at no charge to the investigators. Euthanized animals will be handled at the investigator’s discretion, e.g., placed in a refrigerator for essential personnel to retrieve, frozen, discarded or placed in formalin. Retrieval can be done with approval in advance as above.

If I cannot come to campus to access the vivarium for colony maintenance, can ULAR help with this?
For any issues where a PI or team member cannot come to campus to access the vivarium, contact the ULAR team lead or the clinical veterinarian for your area. They will assist in ensuring that the necessary colony maintenance occurs. View ULAR team members and clinical veterinarians at each vivarium facility.

For all other questions:  Contact Dr. Valerie Bergdall (

Category : IACUC / ORRP