Meet the IACUC16 Blog Squad: Heidi Lewis

PRIM&R’s 2016 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Conference (IACUC16) will be my first IACUC Conference, and I’m excited beyond words to have the opportunity to attend. I’ve only recently been introduced into the field of animal research regulatory administration, as I began my job as an IACUC compliance coordinator in July, 2015.

To prepare for the conference, I perused the agenda, and wow! One of the sessions is entitled IACUC Administration for New Administrator/Coordinators, which means there are other attendees who are brand new, just like me. I’m happy to know I won’t be alone as a newbie to the field, and I’m eager to absorb knowledge, advice, and insights shared by more experienced attendees.

While I consider myself new to the regulatory administration side of animal research, I have been involved with animals and their care for the entirety of my career. For numerous years, I worked as a registered veterinary technician in a private veterinary practice. Having always had a fascination with science and learning, I seized the opportunity to expand my horizons into the field of animal research in early 2011, when I joined the Animal Care Unit of the University of Kansas as the veterinary technician/training coordinator, and then later, became a facility supervisor.

On my very first day with the Animal Care Unit, I was invited to become a voting member of the IACUC; my working knowledge of the IACUC at that time was that it was an acronym for institutional animal care and use committee. Talk about hitting the ground running! I needed to learn A LOT, and learn it quickly. That is what got the regulatory learning ball rolling for me. I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.

I look forward to keeping that ball rolling at IACUC16. The sheer amount of information presented in the sessions, along with the network of other IACUC administrative professionals I plan to connect with, will be the perfect way to do so. Attending the conference will also serve as another step toward becoming a Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA®). I hope to gain greater confidence in translating the federally mandated regulations to our animal research community, so that every constituent benefits, and ultimately, the best scientific research possible results from our efforts.

Whether you are new to the regulatory side of animal research, or have a lot of experience under your belt, I look forward to communicating with you leading up to, during, and after IACUC 16. Hopefully, we’ll also have the opportunity to meet face to face.

Heidi Lewis, RVT, RLATG is the IACUC compliance coordinator in the Office of Research Integrity at the University of Kansas.