Unit of Comparative Medicine
Comparative Medicine is an animal research core facility at the Faculty of Health Sciences. The unit deals with all aspects of activities concerned with the use of animals in experimental medical research.
We promote ethical and human use of animals in research and provide advice and guidance to researchers within experimental medicine. We contribute to that results obtained from animal studies are reproducible and reliable.
Comparative Medicine has modern facilities and we facilitate biomedical experimental research in a safe environment with high animal welfare standards.
Comparative Medicine is approved by the Norwegian authorities to house and use in medical research the following animals: rodents, rabbits, swine, sheep, aquarium fishes and aquatic frogs.
Course in experimental animal science
Comparative Medicine arranges an annual course in Experimental Animal Science in the spring semester. The course has modules for both traditionally laboratory mammals and for wildlife/field research. More information about the course can be found at our course page
Anyone who will perform experiments with animals needs permission from the authorities. A prerequisite is to have completed a C-course in animal experimental science. You will have to apply for each planned animal experiment.
The application should be send electronically in the system FOTS
Please contact UCM's leader in order to obtain a username and password. Applications should be submitted well in advance before the scheduled start of the experiment.
For more information see Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet)
Direct login to FOTS
Our Unit of Comparative Medicine (AKM) shall be a safe workplace for staff, researchers and students. This is achieved through systematic and continuous focus on HES, by using written procedures and employing standard operating routines. However, in order to have a safe workplace everyone must contribute!
Those who will work at AKM will be exposed to health risks like allergens and chemicals. All methods and procedures have to be risk assessed before the work can start. As an employee or user of AKM you will have to follow many rules and requirements. It is important that all personnel are aware and competent in how to protect against any potential risk to health or the environment.
On this page you will find information and guidelines regarding Health, Environment and Safety at AKM.
Before you can start working at AKM
Health monitoring program for those who will work with laboratory animals
The Faculty of Health Science offers and recommends that all users that work with fur-bearing laboratory animals enrol in the health monitoring program. The health monitoring program is for all staff and students at UiT and is performed by the occupational health service centre HEMIS free of costs.
You find more information on the health monitoring program here.
According to Norwegian law all enterprises have to survey possible risks at the workplace. All activities performed by staff, users and research groups have to be assessed with regard to potential risks.
Before starting any new experiment the project leader will have to sign and deliver a risk identification form where all methods, substances and procedures that will be used should be described and characterized with regard to potential risks. This risk identification form can be found here.
A complete risk assessment will have to be performed if the risk identification shows that you will apply methods, procedures, substances, etc. that may pose a potential threat to human or animal health or to the environment (see below).
If the risk identification shows that potential health or environmental hazardous substances, methods or procedures will be used during the work at AKM, a dedicated and complete risk assessment will have to be performed and delivered to AKM. It is the project leader of the experiment that is responsible to make sure that such risk assessments are carried out. AKM demands to have a copy of the risk assessment before the experiment can start. It is also the project leader´s responsibility to ensure that all participants in the experiment (e.g. co-workers, students, cleaners, staff at AKM, etc.) are informed about the potential risks and that they all receive the necessary training and information regarding protective measures.
Institutional unitization agreement regarding HES
If you are a user from another institution than UiT, be aware that a unitization agreement (contract) regarding HES has to be signed between your institution and AKM before the experiment can start. You will find a template (only in Norwegian) for such a HES unitization agreement with AKM here.
Health risks at AKM
It is important to be aware of the potential risks related to work in a laboratory animal facility. Examples of potential health hazards when working at AKM are provided below.
Special information for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Certain methods and substances may be particular harmful for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. Examples include ionizing radiation, several chemicals and medical substances. The university has a specific work routine for pregnant and breastfeeding women that can be found here.
If pregnant or breast-feeding women have any questions or doubts, they should contact the Occupational Health Service (see here).
The allergen density is high in an animal facility. Working with laboratory animals is a well-known risk factor for the development of allergic diseases. Persons with allergies against animals or plants, as well as asthmatics, are not recommended to work at AKM.
In order to diminish the exposure to allergens the use of correct protective wear is highly important.
All staff and students that are working with fur-bearing laboratory animals at AKM shall be offered the chance to join the health monitoring program. For more information on this program, see here.
Chemicals and medical substances
In an animal facility many different detergents and disinfectants are used in addition to various medical substances and other chemicals. Chemicals and other potential harmful substances should be handled in such a way that no damages to health or the environment occur. All use of potential harmful substances has to be specifically risk assessed.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for all chemicals and medical drugs has to be registered in the database and also be available in print. Users of AKM are obliged to provide MSDS for all relevant chemicals that will be used in experiments at AKM.
Ionizing radiation and radioactivity
We are using different equipment and methods at AKM that can cause radiation. The use of such methods and/or equipment has to be specifically risk assessed in addition to that all rooms/laboratories that will be used for this kind of work have to be especially approved and marked.
Even healthy animals may transfer infections to humans, for instance through bites or scratches. Proper handling of animals, correct protective wear, and good hygiene are important measures to prevent infections from animals to humans.
All personnel working with experimental animals at UiT should be offered tetanus vaccination (see here). Employees and students at UiT can be vaccinated against tetanus at the Occupational Health Service free of costs. For more information regarding tetanus vaccination, see the recommendations provided by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health here.
Work with known pathogens (infectious disease experiments) has to be especially risk assessed and also needs approval from various authorities including the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. Please contact the Head of Unit at AKM if you are planning to perform such type of experiments.
It is not uncommon that various types of cells or other biological materials are implanted into animals during experiments. Such material may potentially pose an infection risk to animals and/or humans. Therefore all biological material/substances that will be applied to/used in animals will have to be microbiologicaly tested. Please contact the Head of Unit at AKM for more information regarding such testing.
The above mentioned examples of potential health risks at AKM does not constitute an exaustive list. There may be other methods, procedures or substances that may pose risks to health or the environment that have not been mentioned here. Therefore any new method or substances that are planned to be used at AKM has to be risk assessed prior to its implementation.
A safe workplace is a joint responsibility!
APPLICATION FOR ANIMAL EXPERIMENT
All applications to conduct experiments on animals must be submitted electronically via FOTS. Please contact UCM's leader in order to obtain a username and password. Applications should be submitted well in advance before the scheduled start of the experiment.
For in vitro projects, please use the application form found on the right menu of this page.
All orders of animals go through the Unit of Comparative Medicine (UCM). A separate order form must be filled as is available on the right menu of this page.
Order of rodents occurs on Wednesdays. 11:00 AM. Please fill out the form for ordering laboratory animals and deliver it to UCM well in advance and at the latest by 10:00AM on Wednesdays for processing on that week. Animals usually arrive the following week (normally Wednesday) and are quarantined for 5 days after arrival.
ORDERING LARGE ANIMALS
All orders of animals go through the Unit of Comparative Medicine (AKM). A separate order form must be filled and on the right menu of this page you will find the one for order of pigs. For other species please take contact with the Unit leader.
Your order must be submitted / delivered to UCM at least 10 days prior to pickup by the supplier.
COSTS FOR HOUSING LABORATORY ANIMALS AT UCM
Users will be billed for the housing of animals. The price list can be found here. External users will be charged VAT.
Invoices are sent out quarterly. For rodents, the price is given by unit cage/week; for other mammals prices are presented as individual/week; for zebrafish the price unit is aquarium/week.
NOTE: Purchase of animals are NOT included in the prices. Contact UCM for information on purchase prices for animals.
RESEARCH RELATED SERVICES
If you need technical assistance during your animal experiment please fill in the form available on the right menu of this page and deliver to the Unit well in advance of the assistance required period.
UCM USERS' HANDBOOK
The Unit has a user's manual which will in time be available online. This contains information about the department, the requirements of users and health, amont other topics. For the time be please contact the unit directly to receive a copy.
Links to 3R resources
Links to other laboratory animal facilities in Norway
Links to relevant legislation:
Links to laboratorial animal science associations:
The Unit is headed by Associate Professor Siri Knudsen DVM PhD.
For additional information don't hesitate to get in contact with us:
Telephone: +47 77645379
Telefax: +47 77645390
Email of the Head of Department
Page editor: Knudsen, Siri Kristine