As we wrap up Member Appreciation Month, PRIM&R would like to highlight some of our members—individuals who work daily to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Today, we highlight Tyler Ridgeway, who works as the IACUC/IBC research compliance administrator at the University of Denver.
Mr. Ridgeway shared with us what has shaped his professional experience so far and how PRIM&R events and programs connect him to the larger research ethics community.
PRIM&R: Tell us about how you got started in the research ethics and oversight field and what motivates you to stay involved?
Tyler Ridgeway (TR): I began my career in research ethics and oversight as an animal care technician in the Jesse Brown VA Veterinary Medical Unit. There I began learning the principles of animal husbandry and the functions of an IACUC. I quickly became interested in the level of care that the animals are given as well as the administrative functions and regulatory oversight involved in an IACUC. My interest grew after being nominated as an alternate scientific member on the IACUC and receiving training to assume the role of the IACUC coordinator. Learning the protocol approval process, assisting in writing our AAALAC program description, and writing reporting documents for USDA, OLAW and PHS prepared me to take the Certified Professional in IACUC Administration (CPIA®) exam. Eventually, I began my new position at the University of Denver as the IACUC/institutional biosafety committee (IBC) research compliance administrator.
The research ethics and oversight field is constantly evolving and my motivation comes from making sure that I am staying on top of the regulations and their interpretations. I enjoy working with researchers to ensure that they meet their experimental goals while maintaining the most humane care for the animals. Why? To begin with, humane care is the right thing to do! And, animals experiencing good welfare make the best research models, so we save resources and maximize scientific and medical outcomes by making the right choices.
PRIM&R: What is one tool or resource that you use every day that you could not do your job without?
TR: As an IACUC/IBC administrator, I am constantly referencing the PHS Policy and FAQs. The policy guides me during my initial protocol reviews and while reviewing/revising our policies and procedures; the FAQs help with interpretation of the Policy. A current focus is assuring regulatory integrity while reducing regulatory burden to both researchers and IACUC staff.
PRIM&R: What is one PRIM&R resource or event you would recommend to another emerging professional in your field?
TR: I would highly recommend the annual PRIM&R IACUC Conference to new professionals in this field. My first conference solidified my interest in research ethics and oversight and helped guide my career path. PRIM&R's new member outreach at the conferences is great and I learned a lot about the CPIA certification. It is also a great way to network with other IACUC professionals and gain knowledge from their experiences. I always come back from the conference with ideas for improving areas of our program.
PRIM&R: What value does PRIM&R's Certificate in the Foundations of Animal Care and Use have to you as an emerging professional?
TR: PRIM&R's Certificate in the Foundations of Animal Care and Use helps document my commitment to maintaining my knowledge and continuing my education regarding regulations governing animal care and use to the research community at my institution. It is also a reminder to participate in many educational opportunities that are made available through PRIM&R.
PRIM&R: What is one thing you wish the general public knew about animal research?
TR: I wish the general public understood the level of oversight that is involved with maintaining a PHS-Assured and AAALAC-Accredited animal care and use program. I believe that most of the public's objections and fears would be relieved if they knew the amount of care, investment, professional reviews, researcher reports, and IACUC inspections that an institution must complete to ensure the well-being of each animal involved in a study.