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Offsite Collaborations Involving Animal Work

The Northwestern Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has an approved Animal Welfare Assurance with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) which is required in order for Northwestern to receive PHS and other federal funding.  As the grantee of federal funds, Northwestern is ultimately responsible for compliance with the PHS Policy for PHS supported activities, including animal activities supported by Northwestern at other performance sites.  

Because collaborations between institutions can create ambiguities, the Guide indicates that institutions should have a formal written understanding to address animal care and use responsibilities, animal ownership, and IACUC review and oversight (Guide page 15). To address each IACUC’s responsibilities, the Northwestern IACUC approved the Policy on IACUC Agreements with Collaborating Institutions. This requires the IACUC Office to confirm  IACUC approval of the protocol and, if federally funded, conduct a congruency review to assure the protocol aligns with the work proposed in the grant (NIH GPS  and to initiate an IACUC Agreement between the collaborating IACUCs. This process ensures that the Northwestern IACUC is aware of animal work occurring at other institutions and establishes regulatory and oversight responsibilities. . 

To assist the IACUC with meeting these requirements, a collaboration portal was created to submit, track, document, and approve all offsite animal work supported by Northwestern.

You can access the Northwestern Sub-K Portal with your NetID and password by visiting:

To begin the process, the following documents should be uploaded into the Sub-K Portal:

  1. Complete copy of the grant.
  2. Animal protocol and approval letter from the performance site IACUC/ethics Committee.
  3. If the animal work involves USDA-covered species, the last two USDA inspection reports.

Once the Northwestern IACUC reciprocal and congruency protocol review is complete, the IACUC Office will initiate an IACUC Agreement with the IACUC of the collaborating institution that establishes animal oversight, animal ownership, and IACUC responsibilities. 

A guide with instructions on using the Sub-K Portal can be found at:

For additional information, or to schedule training please contact the IACUC Office at or by phone at 312-503-9339.

Resources and Guidance

When institutions collaborate, or when the performance site is not the awardee institution, which IACUC is responsible for review of the research activity? (OLAW FAQ: D.8)
Is the IACUC required to review the grant application? (OLAW FAQ: D10)
If an animal activity will be performed outside of the US (either by a foreign awardee or by a foreign institution as a subproject for a domestic awardee), is the awardees IACUC required to review and approve that activity? (OLAW FAQ D.13)
Grants Policy and Congruence – June 7, 2012 (OLAW Webinar)
The 2016 Vertebrate Animals Section, Grants Policy, and Congruence – March 10, 2016 (OLAW Webinar)
What Investigators Need to Know About the Use of Animals
Subawards (Consortium Agreements) for Grants SOP
Research Using Vertebrate Animals