The Comparative Medicine Facility in the James G. Cannon Research Center is registered with the USDA, is AAALAC-accredited since 1993, and has a PHS Assurance. Carolinas Medical Center is the accredited unit with a single IACUC, one USDA registration number and a single accepted statement of assurance to the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. It is comprised of approximately 16,000 ft2 of Vivarium (animal housing) and research activity support space for biomedical investigators engaged in various aspects and stages of translational research. In addition to the strong commitment of Carolinas HealthCare System itself, external grants and contracts as well as endowments from charitable gifts and bequests, provide the financial base for the facility.
Comparative Medicine is led by a Departmental Manager, Attending Veterinarian and Veterinary Laboratory Supervisor. Day-to-day operations are overseen by all three. Additional staff includes seven full-time Veterinary Technicians cross-trained to provide husbandry, veterinary support, research support, and oversight. The staff provides continuous oversight and regulatory compliance of animal-related activity within the facility due to the relatively small physical size and centralized design of the program.
Comparative Medicine is primarily a service department, but is also actively involved in collaborative research. All departments using animals rely upon the facilities and technical and professional assistance available within the facility. The department provides direct technical and surgical support during experimentation, and is actively involved in all training programs involving the use of animals, including the development and execution of industry-supported courses and departmentally sponsored resident training programs. In addition, Comparative Medicine also interacts with departments performing product testing as requested, providing technical advice and/or service. Unique departmental expertise exists in advanced and critical care surgical procedures for large laboratory research animals, including orthopedic, general surgery, and thoracic/cardiac procedures.
The facility maintains three fully functional operating room suites with advanced surgical monitoring capability, a fully-supported necropsy suite and separate pre-operative and post-operative suites. One of the three operating room suites is dedicated for rodent surgeries with inhalation anesthesia equipment and two dual surgical microscopes. The facility also has the capability for ultrasound, CT, and X-ray, including on-site developing of film.
The animal housing unit contains over 30 large animal runs, five REC isolation cubicles and multiple rooms for additional housing. Biosafety cabinets are available in the facility for biohazard and rDNA procedure.