In the United States, two major federal laws apply to vertebrate animals used in laboratory research.  The first of these two statutes, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA, under the US Department of Agriculture), celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2016. The second statute, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (also referred to as the Public Health Services Act, or PHS Act), which is similar to the AWA, applies specifically to work funded by the US Public Health Service (i.e., agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services). 

Understanding laboratory animal law is necessary and fundamental for all researchers relying on results from animal research, laboratory animal veterinarians, institutional officials, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) members and veterinarians in training.  They require familiarity with both the scope and particulars of these laws.  Different parties interested in or impacted by laboratory animal laws can have significantly different perspectives about the scope or efficiency of the regulations or their implementation

The Roundtable on Science and Welfare in Laboratory Animal Use of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, the Animal Law and Policy Program and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics of the Harvard Law School will convene a pre-workshop webcast and a workshop to discuss the future of federal laboratory animal law in the United States.

This workshop will examine such topics as how technological advances, such as CRISPR/Cas9, may impact the current legal framework and the ability to sustainably support laboratory animal welfare. The workshop will be held at the Harvard Law School and will be webcast.

Agenda available here.

Click here to view biographies of planning committee members and speakers.

Please email any questions to


Pre-workshop webcast


Laws and Regulations Governing the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: An Overview

Speaker: Professor Margaret Foster Riley, University of Virginia School of Law