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How Do I Perform Searches for My IACUC Protocol?

Tips for Writing the Lay Summary

Writing your lay summary for your IACUC proposal can be a challenge. Your goal is to write a lay summary that any member of the public would be able to understand. Remember – one of the required members of the IACUC is the non-scientific member. That person must be able to understand your lay summary. Here are some pointers:

  • Use non-technical language
  • Be clear and concise (no more than 250 words)
  • Write as though you are writing for a high school student
  • Describe
    • The objective of the experiments
    • Why you are doing the experiments
    • The knowledge you hope to gain through the experiments
    • The potential benefits of the experiments to human or animal health
  • Write the lay summary at the beginning or end of the creation of the protocol rather than in the middle. This prevents you from having to switch back and forth between technical and lay language.

Example of a Lay Summary

Here is a good example of a lay summary modified from a Case Western University example:

The purpose of this research is to understand the development and function of the vertebrate nervous system. Our research will focus on the pineal organ. In all vertebrates, the pineal organ is the major site of synthesis of melatonin, which acts to regulate circadian behaviors such as the sleep/wake cycle. In lower vertebrates, such as fish, it contains cells that sense light, and a clock that keeps track of the organism's position in the 24 hour daily cycle. Although the pineal organ develops and begins functioning very early during development, very little is known about how pineal development is controlled. In addition, the pathways that control circadian rhythm within the pineal are complex, and their regulation is not well understood. We plan to use genetic and cellular techniques in zebrafish to uncover the mechanisms that govern pineal development and circadian function. Understanding the pineal organ and melatonin synthesis will lead to better understanding and treatment for blind people and others with sleep disorders. Further, there are many similarities between the pineal organ and the eye. Therefore, studies on pineal development are likely to give insights into the development of the human eye. (Example modified from, accessed June 16, 2017)