Finding Similarities Through Our Differences: A Canadian Perspective on US “Continuing Review” in Animal Research

By Kathy Banks, BSc, MSc, continuing review coordinator, animal ethics, University of British Columbia 

PRIM&R is pleased to share a post from Kathy Banks, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2015 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who blog here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what is happening at the conference in Boston, MA.

One of the bonuses of being a PRIM&R Blog Squad member was attending the IACUC 101 pre-conference program on March 18. While the majority of the program topics were US-centric (OLAW, PHS, and AAALAC), much of the content translated to the standards I work under as set out by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). Two of the sessions, IACUC Functions, presented by Jerry Collins, PhD, of Yale University, and Protocol Review, presented by Ernest D. Prentice, PhD of University of Nebraska Medical Center, peaked my interest the most as they repeatedly mentioned “continuing review” (CR) and “post-approval monitoring” (PAM), terms I thought I was very familiar with.
What became clear throughout the sessions was, while PAM is universal, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) definition of CR was much different than what was presented during IACUC 101. I had the opportunity to briefly speak with Drs. Collins and Prentice during a break to discuss their definition of CR and to go over the differences and similarities with the Canadian/UBC version of CR that I had noted. They indicated that, to them, CR encompasses the annual review of protocols by the IACUC. This then provides the IACUCs with the opportunity to explore new information and be open to applying changes to the animal program where applicable. While the UBC Animal Care Committee (ACC) also does annual review of protocols, it is called an “annual renewal review,” and continuing review is distinct, as it is one arm of the overarching PAM program. The UBC CR team does one-on-one visits with researchers using animals in research to ensure compliance with the approved protocol(s). This effort is in addition to the ACC’s annual inspections, reports from the clinical veterinarians, and any other sources of information related to PAM.
One thing was clear though, despite the terminology differences and the different regulatory bodies, whether it be the US or Canada, compliance problems, even minor ones, are universal. Whether it is the “I’ve been doing it this way for XXX years, why should I change now” researchers, or the “this is just a bunch of bureaucracy” researchers, challenges exist everywhere (which in some way was almost reassuring). Naysayers may be the minority, but they tend to have the loudest voices. Discussions during IACUC 101 about dealing with these “issues” were very useful to me, and I made notes in my workbook about different ideas UBC can possibly “borrow.” I look forward to discussing them with the UBC PAM Committee and my CR manager when I get back to Vancouver, and I look forward to the conference over the next two days.