In accordance with the Code, the Animals Ethics Committee (AEC) must comprise of at least one member from each of the categories listed below.
The Category C and D members together should comprise no less than one-third of all members.
The University may also appoint people with skills and background of value to the AEC additional to the members required by categories A to D. The University may also choose to appoint to the AEC a person responsible for the routine care of animals within the University.
Veterinarians are members of animal ethics committees because of their specialised knowledge of animals and of standards and advances in their care, treatment and general welfare.
Category A members are important for providing information on variations between species in their reactions to different procedures or substances, their housing needs, post-operative care, and signs of pain and distress.
The role of Category B members is to assess and, if required, explain to other members the scientific merit of an application, both in terms of the importance of the proposed project to the community and the soundness of its experimental design.
Investigators with current or recent experience in animal experimentation can make effective Category B members as they are able to detect potential problems associated with a proposal with regards to animal welfare before they arise.
However, regard must be had to issues of conflict of interest. A conflict of interest in this context is defined as a situation in which a Committee member has a private or personal interest that appears to influence the objective exercising of his or her official duties. Where there may be a reasonable perception of bias, the member should inform the Committee of their bias and remove themselves from the meeting while the issue is discussed. A typical situation in which this will arise is where a Category B member is an investigator, co-investigator or staff member on a proposed project.
It is not necessary that Category C members have a background in animal science or care; however, they do need to possess a good understanding of the contemporary context of animal welfare. The primary role of Category C members is to ensure that a proposal sufficiently considers and provides measures for protecting and maintaining animal welfare. They should also have regard to potentially unethical procedures and excessive numbers of animals requested.
It is not essential that a Category C member be nominated by an animal welfare group; however, this may be desirable as it can ensure that the individual's animal welfare credentials are genuine.
Lay members are selected to represent the general community and will generally not have a formal connection to the University. Their role is to contribute different and independent perspectives to the Committee's deliberations. They should not have any of the qualifications of the other categories.
Applications should be written in lay terms so that they can be easily understood by all members, but in particular lay members.