Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we introduce you to our members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Over the course of the next few months we will be shining a spotlight on members of the Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) and Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA®) Councils. Please read on to learn more about their professional experiences and what goes on behind-the-scenes in their lives!
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Gothro, animal welfare officer and IACUC administrator at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
Maeve Luthin (ML): When and why did you join the field?
Jamie Gothro (JG): I morphed into the world of IACUC as a natural extension of some of my veterinary technology and animal resource duties. I started out being responsible for setting up a training program for animal research personnel, and that led to looking at the qualifications of protocol participants. From there, I started getting more interested and involved in IACUC processes. I especially like the opportunity to see the research studies in their early stages during protocol review, and I enjoy post-approval monitoring, too. I get a chance to see the work in action!
ML: What prompted your interest in joining the CPIA Council, and why did you agree to serve?
JG: The CPIA Council focuses on improving the quality of the administrative staff of the IACUC. There are programs that help promote and advance most of the other careers in the laboratory animal field, but the world of regulations is complex and requires a lot of time and dedication by IACUC staff to keep their institutions on the right side of the laws. The Council serves to promote recognition and validation of those roles and helps us develop a body of collective knowledge (and wisdom) to be better at what we do. I agreed to serve on the Council because I was excited to be a part of what I view to be an important contribution to the world of laboratory animal care and welfare.
ML: How did you learn about the CPIA® credential?
JG: I first heard about the CPIA credential when it was introduced at a PRIM&R meeting as a future enhancement for the field. When the certification was offered, I knew it was for me, and I was part of the first group of people who sat for the exam.
ML: How did you become involved with PRIM&R?
JG: My first exposure to PRIM&R was the first time an event was offered in San Diego, and I really liked its focused approach to the role and function of IACUCs. I attended meetings over the years as budgets and time permitted, and I guess I became somewhat of a regular. I don’t know when I was first asked to serve as a co-moderator at a session, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited back to many conferences. It’s a great way to interact with colleagues across the field from all types of industry, academia, and government agencies. We have a lot we can learn from each other.
ML: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?
JG: Organization! I am organized to a fault, which really helps keep track of all of the moving pieces that are involved in protocol review. There are so many stops in the flow of information along the approval path (be it electronic- or paper-based)—scientists, review boards, granting agencies, safety, and many others. To keep from losing something or having something take too long at one stop requires a system or person that can keep track of what is where and where it needs to go next. That can be overwhelming if you aren’t organized.
ML: What advice have you found most helpful in your career?
JG: Find the things no one else wants to do, do them, and do them well.
ML: Is there anyone, living or dead, who has inspired you in your career and/or in life?
JG: Marky Pitts. She has been a friend and mentor for many years. She helped pioneer the field of IACUC administration as it is today and did it without a lot of resources.
ML: What is one thing you wish “the man/woman on the street” knew about your work?
JG: I would like the person on the street to know that the people who do what I do care about those who benefit from the amazing work done by the scientists, and we care about the animals who serve the science. I hope one day my job, as it relates to the use of animals, becomes obsolete. Then we can take all we have learned from IACUC processes and apply them to something else.
Thank you for being part of the membership community and sharing your story, Jamie. We hope to see you at next year’s 2015 IACUC Conference, to be held March 17-20 in Boston, MA.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website today.