PRIM&R’s Abstract Spotlight

In this series of Ampersand posts, PRIM&R touches base with those who presented programmatic and research-based findings at past PRIM&R conferences.
Spotlight on an abstract from the 2009 IACUC Conference
Title: Laboratory Animal Coordinator Certification Program – A Unique Method for Standardizing Training at a Large Academic Institution
Author: Tracy Heenan, DVM, CPIA
Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Abstract summary: The Laboratory Animal Coordinator Certification Program offers a method for uniformly training research personnel in large, decentralized institutions where thousands of individuals are involved in animal research. The program trains and certifies Laboratory Animal Coordinators (LACs); IACUC-trained and certified members of the research team who are responsible for coordinating animal activities in the laboratory; and those who are responsible for training other members of the laboratory in proper animal handling. LACs serve as the “hands-on” people in the lab who work with other lab members and the IACUC to ensure that all individuals who handle animals on a project are qualified to conduct procedures according to regulatory expectations. LACs are approved to train and certify other individuals in the lab in each of the routine procedures that will be conducted by that person.
PRIM&R Staff (PS): It’s been a year since you presented this abstract at PRIM&R’s 2009 IACUC Conference. How has your program changed or evolved in the past 12 months?
Tracy Heenan, DVM, CPIA (TH): In the last year, we added proficiency scoring to our LAC Certification Training program.
During the rodent labs, the Training and Compliance Coordinators (TCCs) evaluate the proposed LAC’s proficiency in all relevant animal handling techniques before granting them approval to certify personnel. Proficiency Level I allows a LAC to begin training other personnel immediately. Proficiency Levels II and III are assigned in order to distinguish between individuals who may be close to proficiency and who may need only a small amount of practice and those who are very hesitant and require significantly more practice. This information is helpful to the investigator, who may be keenly interested in knowing how close their laboratory technician is to being proficient. It is also helpful for the TCCs to be aware of the proficiency rating when they are retraining the individual. Once the individual feels they have reached the desirable level of proficiency, they are instructed to contact the TCC to arrange observation and subsequent certification.
PS: What challenges have you faced in implementing this program?
TH: The sheer number of individuals requesting training in the program has created a waiting list for the hands-on classes. We may have to increase the frequency of our classes, especially the mouse handling class.
For questions or comments about this program, please contact Dr. Heenan.
Interested in submitting an abstract to present at PRIM&R’s next animal or human research ethics conference? Please e-mail us for more information.