The Baystate Animal Care Facility (BACF) provides a safe, clean and humane environment for laboratory animals used at Baystate Medical Center for research and instructional purposes. The institutional veterinarian and a skilled animal care staff ensure that animals receive expert and humane care. Baystate Medical Center purchases animals only from licensed and/or accredited commercial vendors and dealers who are licensed to sell animals that have been specifically bred for research. Over 99% of research animals used at Baystate Medical Center are rodent species (e.g., rats and mice).
Nearly every medical advance of the last century and every modern treatment currently available to cure disease and control pain is based on knowledge gained through animal research. Developing new cures and treatments in the future will also require animal research.
Baystate Medical Center permits animal research only when there are no alternatives available, and takes seriously its responsibility for the humane care of animals. The BACF complies with or exceeds all federal regulations and independent accreditation standards. As we continue to contribute to advancements in modern medicine and provide hope for patients and their families, Baystate Medical Center and our scientists will also continue our commitment to the humane use of animals in research.
The BACF provides the following facilities and services for research and instructional purposes:
- Surgical facilities that are licensed, registered, and approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
- Rodent surgery and procedure room
- Laboratory animal environmental housing for rodents and large animals
- Expertise of skilled and experienced staff that are certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to assist investigators and staff
- Comprehensive and continuing training for all investigators and staff
- Consultation and assurance of appropriate techniques for use of laboratory animals for research and instructional purposes
Accreditation and Regulation
The Baystate Animal Care Facility is a licensed and registered animal facility with the United states Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and has a current Letter of Assurance on file with the Public Health Service Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) The USDA APHIS provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals and implements those standards and achieves compliance through unannounced annual inspections of animal care facilities, including the BACF.
The BACF complies with all applicable federal laws and guidelines as well as national standards. These include:
The BACF is also a member of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), which is dedicated to serving society through education and the advancement of responsible and humane care and treatment of laboratory animals and quality research that leads to scientific gains that benefit people and animals.
Baystate Medical Center is a member of the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research (MSMR), which promotes and enhances biomedical and biological research, including the humane care and use of animals, for the improved health and well-being of people, animals, and the environment. The goal of MSMR is to foster a better understanding of biomedicine by improving basic literacy in and enthusiasm for the biological sciences among the public, the media, and future generations.
The Baystate Medical Center Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees and evaluates all animal care and use at the BACF, and is also responsible for initial and continuing review and approval or all animal use protocols. The IACUC also continually reviews the entire program and inspects the facilities at least twice each year to assure that the BACF continues to meet USDA and OLAW regulations and national standards.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) provides leadership for determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals and implements those standards and achieves compliance through inspection of animal care facilities, including the BACF.
Fast Facts about Animals in Research
Virtually all medical advances of the last century—organ transplantation, drug development, and vaccines—would have been impossible without animal research. Achievements resulting from animal research include:
- Advances in HIV/AIDS treatment
- Treatment for diseases and conditions such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Increased cure rates for pediatric cancers.
- The 553,000 men and women who survive coronary bypass surgery each year.
- The 420,000 patients who receive hip and knee replacements each year no longer face confinement in wheelchairs or suffer great difficulty and pain when walking.
- Often, the need for animals in biomedical research is misunderstood by non-scientific individuals, who themselves purchase and benefit from products on a daily basis without realizing that they were developed, in part, from data collected in animal research.
- Animal research has resulted in many life-saving and life-extending vaccines and treatments for cats, dogs, farm animals, and endangered species as well as humans.
- Biomedical researchers, who dedicate their lives to preserving and improving human health, respect all life.
- Animal research at Baystate Medical Center is conducted only when there are no other research options; when conducted, animal research is conducted humanely.
- Baystate Medical Center maintains a current Assurance with the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and a Registration with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the conduct of animal research.
- Animal research at Baystate Medical Center is internally overseen continuously by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which includes community representatives. The IACUC conducts a rigorous self-assessment of the entire program twice a year. The program is externally overseen by unannounced annual inspections by the USDA.
- Baystate Medical Center purchases animals only from licensed and/or accredited commercial vendors and dealers who are licensed to sell animals that have been specifically bred for research.
- Humane treatment of research animals is required by institutional policy as well as law and is necessary to obtain valid research findings.
- Approximately 95% of all animals needed for research conducted in the United States are rats and mice; the percent is even higher at Baystate Medical Center, where less than 1% of research animals are non-rodent species.