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Federal regulations allow for two types of review of animal use protocols: Full Committee Review (FCR) and Designated Member Review (DMR).

Full Committee Review (FCR): As its name suggests, the FCR involves review of an application at a convened meeting with a quorum (majority of voting members) present. The Committee has the authority to approve, require modifications to secure approval, or withhold approval of an application. Any such decision is based on a majority vote of the members present.

Designated Member Review (DMR): The DMR process is somewhat more complicated. Briefly, a list of applications eligible for DMR is distributed to all ARC members, and any member can call for FCR of any application. If no member requests FCR, the Chair designates one or more reviewers who have the authority to approve the application or require modifications to secure approval. The Designated Reviewer does not have the authority to withhold approval of an application; any protocol with serious concerns must be presented to the Full Committee for further discussion.

The DMR process is intended to allow the Committee to devote more time during convened meetings to protocols warranting greater discussion, such as proposals involving more invasive or more painful procedures. Protocols that involve minimal potential for pain/distress (e.g., euthanasia of animals for tissue harvest only) or that do not involve substantial modifications (e.g., continuation applications with no significant changes) are more likely to be reviewed through DMR. However, review through DMR is no less thorough than review through FCR.

Committee members are notified of applications eligible for DMR once per week. While this process can often allow a quicker turnaround time than review via FCR, DMR is not the same as the “expedited review” process permitted for review of certain human research proposals. It is also important to note that assignment to DMR does not guarantee that an application will not be referred to FCR.

Administrative Review: Amendment applications to existing protocols that involve certain changes not considered significant (e.g., addition of a new funding source, changes in personnel, use of a new vivarium housing location) can be reviewed administratively. Typically, the turnaround time for applications undergoing administrative review ranges from a few days to a week.

As always, please contact the ARC staff (x66308) with your questions or concerns about the review process, as well as appropriate timelines for processing applications prior to grant deadlines or lapse in ARC approval.