MJ Shepherd: Honoring an exemplary PRIM&R member for her contributions to animal care and use

by Ali Hall, Education Assistant

Yesterday, PRIM&R had the honor to present the 2012 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) to Mary Jo “MJ” Shepherd, DVM, CPIA, at the 2013 IACUC Conference in Baltimore, MD. She graciously accepted this award, which recognized her dedication and unique contributions to the field of research ethics.

Another leader in the field and PRIM&R’s 1999 DSA recipient, Molly Greene, presented the DSA to Dr. Shepherd. In doing so, Ms. Greene shared a few of the countless statements of praise that have been submitted by Dr. Shepherd’s colleagues over the years. Her hardworking nature and dedication to the field were highlighted, as was her love of animals—a fact that is evidenced by her love of cats. To the delight of the audience, she admitted to having 16 of them at one time.

Since first becoming involved in the field of laboratory animal medicine in 1988, Dr. Shepherd has served as an instructor, clinical veterinarian, attending veterinarian, IACUC member, consultant, scientist, and administrator/director of several IACUCs. In all, she has been affiliated with an impressive eleven different IACUCs, which span contract research organizations, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical companies. One colleague noted that Dr. Shepherd “was really loved by the PIs [she worked with] because she worked so hard to make the IACUC review process as painless as possible for them while assuring that [the IACUC] did a very thorough and credible job of executing [their] regulatory responsibilities.”

In addition to these accomplishments, there can be no doubt as to Dr. Shepherd’s commitment to PRIM&R. She co-chaired the IACUC Conference Planning Committee from the 2004 to 2008 and has been on the PRIM&R’s faculty or conference planning committee or both since the mid 1990s.  She is equally devoted to the certification of IACUC administrators.  As a current member of PRIM&R’s Certification Committee and as one of the founders of the Certified Professional IACUC Administrators (CPIA®) credential. Dr. Shepherd truly is a ‘driver and sustainer of the CPIA credential.’

Dr. Shepherd said she was “thrilled and humbled to be so honored” to receive the DSA and professed that all of her labors for PRIM&R have been “labors of love.”  After thanking her coworkers, fellow founding members of the CPIA credential, the PRIM&R staff, she called on all in the audience to never lose sight of what she believes to be the most important reason we are here: the animals.