The University of Iowa

NIH Grant Information

New VAS Online Training Module

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced October 13, 2015 that the requirements of the Vertebrate Animals Section (VAS) of grant applications, cooperative agreements and contract proposals have been changed (NOT-OD-16-006) along with some features of 2016 grant application guidance, forms and instructions (NOT-OD-16-004). The VAS changes are designed to remove redundancy with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) review while meeting the requirements of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

For more information on VAS requirements, including a checklist, detailed instructions with links to worksheets, please refer to the Vertebrate Animals Section at the NIH Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare webpage.

Required Elements of the Vertebrate Animal Section (VAS) (see OLAW Notice: NOT-OD-16-006)

If live vertebrate animals are to be used, federal policy requires that the following criteria are addressed in all applications:

  1. Description of Procedures:  Provide a concise description of the proposed procedures to be used that involve vertebrate animals. Identify the species, strains, ages, sex and total number of animals by species to be used. If dogs or cats are proposed, provide the source of the animals.
  2. Justifications: Provide justification that the species are appropriate for the proposed research. Explain why the research goals cannot be accomplished using an alternative model (e.g., computational, human, invertebrate, in vitro).
  3. Minimization of Pain and Distress: Describe the interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury. These include analgesia, anesthesia, sedation, palliative care and humane endpoints.
  4. Euthanasia: State whether the method of euthanasia is consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. If not, describe the method and provide a scientific justification.   

Recommended Text for VAS Section 1.4:

  • Animals will be euthanized by methods consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition.
    Note:  If you need assistance to determine whether or not your method of euthanasia is consistent with the 2020 AVMA Euthanasia Guidelines, please contact the IACUC Office at 319-384-4773, or