By Jim Barlow The way Gale Taylor sees it, increasing regulations have improved the care of the nation's laboratory animals, but costly, time-consuming compliance efforts are hurting scientific morale and threatening the ability of small institutions to provide biomedical education. Taylor's opinion is built on front-line experience. In eight years with the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, including the last year as chairman of AAALAC's Council on Accreditation, Taylor has reviewed reports on more than 1,000 animal research facilities and participated in 100 site inspections. His service with AAALAC ends June 30. Institutional membership is voluntary, but more than half of the nation's more than 1,200 schools that use animals in research belong to AAALAC. The majority of government-related research funding goes to AAALAC-accredited schools. Large universities that use animals in research have the resources necessary for compliance with increasing federal regulations, including the construction of facilities or the renovation of existing ones, said Taylor, a veterinarian and director of lab animal care at the University of Illinois. However, "All of us are losers when small institutions decide they can no longer be involved in animal research," Taylor said. "I have asked researchers attending conferences for a show of hands from those who got their first degree at a small college. A surprisingly high percentage of them raise their hands. And many say that the biological sciences may not have been very high on their career lists, but that they got their fires lit at a small college in a biology or zoology course." Because of the financial burden of compliance, Taylor said, many small institutions will have to give up their animals if the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forced to place mice, rats and birds under the Animal Welfare Act. Those small species already fall under the Health Research Extension Act, Good Laboratory Practices Act and the Public Health Service's "Guide for the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals." Taylor believes existing regulations are sufficient. Taylor's interest in lab-animal medicine began early during his 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, which he joined in 1962, five years after he graduated from the UI College of Veterinary Medicine. One of his first military assignments was working with monkeys and chimpanzees bound for NASA's space program. In the Winter 1993 AAALAC Communique, Taylor wrote that many good scientists are exploring "other career options" because of the bureaucracy spawned by legislative mandates. If the trends continue, they could effectively shut down animal research and negate past program improvements, Taylor wrote.