Approval for new project applications to external funding agencies

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Further Information

The Animal Ethics Committee


Applications to the Animal Ethics Committee are treated in strict confidence.

Many external funding agencies, for example NHMRC, Healthway, Asthma Foundation, Cancer Foundation require Animal Ethics Committee approval of all animal work involved in a successful grant application before funding may be taken up.

One of the following situations will generally apply.

1. Complete an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) Research Application Form

Generally an applicant for a new externally-funded grant that includes animal work should complete an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) Research Application Form after submission of the application to the funding agency:

Given the relatively low success rates for grants, individuals may prefer to delay submission of the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) application until they hear whether they have gained funding, especially if the animal work will proceed only where the application for funding is successful.

In this case, AEC applications should be forwarded promptly upon notification of being given funding, to ensure AEC approval as quickly as possible, and avoid delays in releasing grant funding.

Some funding agencies ask applicants to forward documentation of their AEC approval. For NHMRC grants, applicants should simply forward a copy of their AEC approval letter to the UWA Research Grants Office ([email protected]).

2. Where a grant application involves identical animal work to a previously approved project

Sometimes a new grant application involves identical animal work to a project previously approved by the AEC, in terms of the project's aims, objectives, experimental procedures, animal species and numbers, statistical justification and so on.

This is likely to occur where an earlier unsuccessful grant application is resubmitted with minor changes, such as a different title or a slightly modified lay description. In this case, a letter should be submitted to the AEC Secretary, stating that the AEC has previously approved the work and the current approval number.

3. A new grant application which involves some differences

Where a researcher submits a new grant application which involves the same fundamental aims and objectives, experimental procedures and species for the animal work as a current AEC approval, but which may involve, for example, different strains and animal numbers, a two-tier approach applies.

A letter stating the above and giving the current approval number should be submitted to the AEC Secretary.

AEC approval will be extended to the new project on the condition that if it gains funding or proceeds the following year, then at that time the Chief Investigator will forward to the AEC either a new application or a letter of amendment detailing any differences from the current approved project, stipulating any additional animals required, and providing a statistical justification for these animals.

In practice, if the new project gains funding from an external agency, it may be more satisfactory in many cases to submit a complete new AEC application rather than an amendment, so that the periods of the grant and AEC approval for the animal work are concurrent.

This process is to avoid unnecessary work for researchers and the AEC in the case where the animal work of a new application for external funding differs only slightly from that of a currently approved project, especially as the success rate for most schemes is not high - for example, around 25% for NHMRC. A new AEC application, or an amendment where there are only slight changes to the project, is necessary as the Code requires the AEC to maintain accurate records of all animal work.

Moreover, the AEC must balance the likely scientific or educational benefits of the work with the imposition on the animals when considering approval of an application which is impossible unless full details are provided.