The University of Utah was recently audited for laboratory safety practices and shortly thereafter, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) has called for an immediate suspension of the university’s animal research.
The complaint was sent to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. It requested a suspension for the time being until the University of Utah was able to become compliant with all regulations for federally-supported animal research projects.
The state released their findings on May 14 and TrialSite News includes the report as the source link. The performance audit revealed that the University of Utah has deviated from prescribed best practices for performing limited health assessments for employees working with laboratory animals.
Among other findings, the state described deficiencies in the University of Utah’s laboratories as a “broken system that places lab personnel at risk.” NEAV reports in its complaint that this is not the first time the University of Utah has deviated from federal law and rules. In fact, NEAVE issued a notice in their last press release that the University of Utah has been cited at least 12 times for violating the Animal Welfare Act. Egregious error or bad quality practices at least among some have led to the death of a nonhuman primate and a kitten dying of dehydration and another nonhuman primate burned so bad he had to be euthanized.
A systems-based approach to quality leads to a more holistic and comprehensive approach to the entire research lifecycle—from preclinical animal research through human testing. If this type of error and potential negligence is occurring regularly, there will be other problems in other areas of research. The University of Utah is a fine institution and has contributed greatly to medical research. Its leadership should heed the state’s findings as a call to action. Something is off, and a root cause analysis is in order along with immediate corrective action plans and periodic check ins to ensure progress is made.