Reflections on PRIM&R’s 2015 IACUC Conference

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

It’s been just over a month since I walked my legs off on Boston’s Freedom Trail, visited the many historic monuments and gravesites throughout the city, and, most importantly, attended my first PRIM&R IACUC Conference. What an experience! As I explained in my first and subsequent Blog Squad posts, I attended several interesting and relevant conference sessions, and armed with that knowledge, came back to the University of British Columbia (UBC) brimming with ideas and a fresh perspective.
Personally, one of the best parts of the conference was meeting peers from across the globe. I was able to make new contacts with experts in fish biology and wildlife studies, and plan to incorporate some of the information I learned from them into the UBC post-approval monitoring (PAM) program. I was also able to discuss the trials and tribulations of breeding large rodent colonies with fellow rodent biologists. Those of us that have been “doing it for years” were also happy to share our knowledge with those just entering the field, including discussing strategies for dealing with difficult strains (and difficult researchers). The best, and most pertinent, session I attended was the PAM session, which I blogged about here. I handed out more than a few business cards during both the rodent breeding and PAM sessions, and look forward to hearing from and following up with my colleagues in those fields.
Fortuitously, my attendance at the conference, which included the breakout session that focused on PAM, happened to precede some of the recent transitions in the UBC PAM Program. As of April 1, the PAM program has moved departments (we are now under the leadership of the university veterinarian), and we are in the process of re-evaluating and reorganizing our communication tree, reporting structure and, more significantly, our roles and responsibilities in the program. Coming into the discussion about the changes at UBC with the knowledge and information I gathered while at the conference, having an idea of what has and has not worked elsewhere, how the PAM visits are conducted elsewhere, what drives those visits, etc. is all information that has been very beneficial to the discussion here.
As I flipped through my conference materials before writing this blog, I was struck again by how much information was packed into two days, how much I got out of it, and how much I am looking forward to the 2016 PRIM&R IACUC Conference in Bellevue, Washington (my backyard). I want to thank the organizers, presenters, and fellow participants for making my first, and hopefully not last, PRIM&R conference a memorable one.
Kathy Banks is a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2015 IACUC Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who blogged here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what happened at the conference in Boston, MA, , and how they have used what they’ve learned there since they returned home.