Using Animals in the BUMC Center for Biomedical Imaging (IACUC)

Last updated on May 8, 2023 11 min read Using Animals in the BUMC Center for Biomedical Imaging (IACUC)

BU IACUCInstitutional Animal Care and Use Committee IACUC oversee... Approved October 2008, Revised January 2014, Revised and Approved May 2019, Approved April 2022

These guidelines form the basis of institutional policy, as approved by the Boston University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (BU IACUC), Center for Biomedical Imaging (CBI), and Boston University Animal Science Center (BU ASC). These guidelines apply to all animal imaging conducted at CBI (X-building B01) using imaging facilities, equipment and other resources also used for imaging human patients. These guidelines apply to both BU research staff as well as investigators bringing animals from other institutions for imaging sessions at CBI.


Researchers who bring animals into the Center for Biomedical Imaging from outside sources are required to follow these guidelines, which are designed to:

  1. Ensure the safety of laboratory personnel
  2. Ensure the well-being of lab animals
  3. Ensure the well-being of animal colonies at BU

Each investigator must be versed in these guidelines before bringing animals to the center, and must maintain current certification.

The following procedures ensure the safety of humans who work in or visit the center:

  1. Animal and human studies will be scheduled at different time points to minimize the potential contact between species.
  2. Animal use at the center is limited to the preparation room and the scanning room itself.
  3. Each animal study will need an approval from the IACUC and the CBI Steering Committee before an MRI scan can be scheduled. The preparation room should be used for all procedures (such as shaving, IV cannulation, intubation) that might involve significant release of body fluids or dander.
  4. Each researcher is responsible for cleaning/disinfecting the scan room and preparation room immediately upon conclusion of the scan or recovery of the animal. Research teams should include at least one person responsible for animal handling/monitoring and one person responsible for cleanup.
  5. Center personnel (including the MR technician) are not allowed to work in the same room as an animal unless they appear as an approved person on an IACUC protocol and have completed the appropriate ROHP requirements.
  6. In addition to the requirement for training in MRI safety, all personnel must be certified by CBI for animal use. This is achieved by taking a short training course that will orient them to the facilities, equipment and procedures used at BUMC.

Note: Animal researchers using the imaging center from partner institutions must have current approval from the BU IACUC and from their home institution for their studies and a current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Boston University. Approval must include both scanning and transport.

Getting Started

1.     MRI Safety Training

All personnel must have received MR safety training from the CBI before imaging studies commence. During this training all personnel who will be entering an MR facility will be screened for contraindications to entering a magnetic field (e.g. whether the staff members have pacemakers, cochlear implants, aneurysm clips).

2.     BU ASC Meeting

A meeting must be scheduled with BU ASC Veterinary Services prior to the first imaging session to address specific issues of safety, animal transportation, anesthesia, monitoring of vital functions, general animal care while in the facility, and cleanup procedures upon completion of the scan. The investigator must provide a clearly written experimental outline to BU ASC staff prior to the meeting.

All personnel participating in the imaging activity must have documented training in transporting and handling the pertinent species, the potential hazards associated with such animal handling, and must be current in their occupational health assessment. Guidelines  for such training and safeguards are provided in a CDC publication, Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.

3.     Imaging studies

Imaging studies at the CBI will be coordinated through the CBI Director or his designee. The principal investigator is responsible for ensuring that BU ASC is informed well in advance of any scans (7 days, if possible). In addition, the CBI Director will inform BU ASC monthly of animal scans.


Animal access to the center is by one of two routes:

  1. Animals may arrive at the 650 Albany St. loading dock, and be transported via the service elevator to the center.
  2. Animals may arrive at the 700 Albany St. loading dock, and be transported via the service elevator to the 6th floor corridor, across the enclosed bridge to the 650 Albany St. building, and down the service elevator to the center. Animals housed in 700 Albany St will also be transported using the same route.

Animals are not to be brought in through the public entrances of either building.


Animals must be accompanied at all times by research staff from the institution of origin or a BU ASC designee. Research staff must have the approved IACUC protocol number readily accessible. Recent individual medical records, including the most recent tuberculin tests for nonhuman primates, will also accompany animals.

Animals must arrive in a transport enclosure designed to:

  • Prevent any dander or allergens from escaping into the environment
  • Shield the animal from view
  • Allow both adequate protection from escape (usually via a double enclosure) and monitoring of the animal
  • Independently meet any special animal care needs for heat, ventilation, etc. as specified in the animal protocol.

Animal transport containers must prevent public viewing of animals. The carrier must protect the animals from environmental conditions. Animals will be fully anesthetized prior to imaging (unless a specific exemption was obtained). Animals already at BU ASC will be transported in an enclosed escape-proof cage or carrying box that is opaque or completely covered by a sheet or drape, and lined with an absorbable pad for the collection of bodily fluids (e.g., urine). Routes for transport of animals are covered in the “Access” section. Researchers must be able to maintain their animal in the transport enclosure in the event the preparation room is not available when they arrive. Animals are not to be held in any transport enclosure for more than 12 consecutive hours.

In the case of an escaped animal, the following guidelines must be followed:

  • Contain the animal as best as possible (e.g., within the room).
  • Contact BU ASC immediately

Preparation Room and Hygiene

The preparation room is limited for use to preparation of one animal at a time. Researchers must ensure that adequate time exists before and after their study so as not to interfere with an incoming animal.

Animal Preparation Prior to Entering the Imaging Facility

Animal preparation, including hair shaving, catheter placement, anesthesia induction and intubation are to be performed in the prep room by investigators prior to entering the scanner. Research personnel will bring their own routine medical supplies that may be necessary for animal restraint and for the imaging procedure. Research personnel will monitor and document animal anesthesia and recovery in accordance with federal laws and regulations and The Guide. If the investigator prefers veterinary technical assistance to perform these tasks or is interested in receiving training, contact BU ASC. All pertinent entries must note the date and time, and be initialed by the person making the entry in the individual animal health record.

Animals must have completed the required acclimation period or been released from quarantine after review by the designated facility veterinarian. Animals known to have common zoonotic diseases may not enter the suite unless all personnel involved have been properly trained and the risk of infection or cross-contamination can be minimized to an acceptable level. The scanning of any known or suspected infectious animal must be explicitly approved by BU ASC and by CBI, and research staff must inform all personnel who are present in the MRI suite when an infected animal is present.

All personnel (including research staff, CBI staff, BU ASC staff, etc.) will be instructed in and wear appropriate PPE during the entire prep and imaging session. Research staff are responsible for notifying CBI staff and visitors of special PPE requirements for their animals. All personnel handing nonhuman primates must also be up-to-date with ROHP TB testing requirements. Gloves must be removed before touching control panels, video equipment, telephones, doorknobs, elevator buttons, or other objects in shared spaces, including the control room.

All nonhuman primate users will ensure the availability in the prep room of monkey bite/scratch kits and post-exposure instructions at each scan, and will notify Research Occupational Health and a BU ASC veterinarian promptly in the event of an exposure.


Disposable absorbent pads (“chucks”) will be used whenever possible to minimize direct contact of animals to surfaces which come into contact with human patients. The animal will be placed on top of the chucks for the duration of the study. No one other than persons actively involved in the animal research project will be allowed in the room.

If surgical manipulation or blood withdrawal is necessary, areas that may come in contact with blood, body fluids, and animal dander must also be draped. Sanitization supplies must be available for immediate use. At completion of the scan, the room will be cleaned thoroughly. The table, floor, and any instruments in contact with the animals such as surface coils must be cleaned with disinfectant solution, available in the MRI facility, allowing sufficient contact time for agent effectiveness.

Sharps containers are readily accessible in the MRI suite and prep area. No human patients will be permitted to enter the area until it has been cleaned. Post-scan sanitization should be arranged immediately after the scan. The research staff will dispose of all biological waste and disposable items in red biohazard bags; CBI will make arrangements with building services for disposal of red bag waste.

When possible, human patient care equipment which comes in direct contact with the animal must be sterilized before re-use. Steam, gas, or chemical sterilization should be used, as appropriate for each item. Ideally this equipment should be duplicated whenever possible and labeled and stored separately from patient equipment.

No food or drink is permitted in the suite or the control room during the study. The designated investigator listed on the IACUC protocol is responsible for adequately cleaning and disinfecting the MR Suite after the animal is removed from the room. All surfaces which have come into contact with animals or have been touched by animal handlers must be disinfected using an approved disinfectant. Personnel handling the animals or sample material must wash their hands after gloves are removed.

All waste material generated during the study will be considered medical-pathological waste and disposed of according to current guidelines from the Safety Office. The PI or designee will be responsible for ensuring that medical-pathological waste is disposed of properly. All animal associated waste will be red-bagged for disposal.

Veterinary Care

For animals that are to be anesthetized or subjected to a procedure, veterinary assistance must be available in case of unforeseen medical complications. Investigators must either come with veterinary assistance, or pre-arrange with Boston University Animal Science Center for Vet Services to be available on call.

Animal Monitoring

Anesthesia monitoring and supportive care is required for all animals that enter the CBI. A complete medical record of all procedures and the administration of fluids and drugs will be generated along with an anesthesia monitoring sheet for periodically recording the animal’s vital signs (heart and respiratory rates, etc.) and other vitals where appropriate.

Documentation of supportive care (which may include fluid therapy, supplemental heat, etc.) is also required. These records will be kept in the animal’s individual health record. A summary or copy of these records will be made and accompany animals that return to the BU ASC animal facility. In case of a veterinary medical emergency, the investigative staff must have extra anesthetics and emergency drugs available during the scan. A crash kit is available in CBI for veterinary emergencies.

The following general guidelines for animal care should be considered and addressed as part of the protocol for each study. Individual protocols might vary from these guidelines as required by the particular research study, as approved by the IACUC.

Follow the “ABCDs” (airway, breathing, cardiovascular support, drugs) for basic CPR:

The most important procedure is to ventilate the animal. Establishing control of the airway and breathing should be the first priority, do nothing else first.

  • Tracheal access: If the patient is not already intubated place an endotracheal Ifan endotracheal tube is not available use a face mask to provide supplemental oxygen.
  • Ventilation: Ventilate with 100% O2 at a rate of 1 breath every 5 seconds. If usinginhalant agents make sure the vaporizer is turned off. An Ambu-bag is available in the crash kit for manual ventilation if the ventilator machine is not easily
  • Chest compressions: After establishing control of ventilation, start regular strongchest compressions (at least 1 per second). It is not necessary to coordinate compressions with Rapid infusion of IV fluids should be started to support perfusion.
  • Emergency drugs: If no heart beat can be heard or no pulses felt, then epinephrineshould be given Reversal drugs should be given if opioids, xylazine, or paralytics have been used. Dopram® may be given to stimulate respiration if spontaneous breathing is not noted. Have emergency drugs and instruments in the suite ready for use.

Termination of Scan

A scan may be terminated by CBI or BU ASC if the procedures outlined in these guidelines and the approved IACUC protocol are not followed or if the animal is considered to be at unnecessary risk by the MR staff or ASC staff. In addition, the BU IACUC may suspend protocol activities after a convened IACUC meeting if there are concerns of compliance and/or animal welfare.

If euthanasia is performed, the methods must be in accordance with guidelines established by the BU IACUC and the American Veterinary Medical Association.


These regulations are designed to prevent animals from coming into contact with other animals, either from BU colonies or from outside. In the event of accidental contact with an outside animal, animals residing in the BUMC colony must undergo standard quarantine procedures before re-entering the colony.


Certification is currently handled by:

Stephan Anderson, MD
Co-Director, Boston University Center for Biomedical Imaging
670 Albany Street, 417
Boston, MA 02118
617-638-6610 (phone)

Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Boston University Center for Biomedical Imaging
670 Albany Street, 418
Boston, MA 02118
617-353-5897 (phone)

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