Retrospective: 2015 IACUC Poster Abstracts

To encourage animal care and use professionals in the PRIM&R community to submit a poster abstract for our upcoming 2016 IACUC Conference, we’ve created a retrospective of the poster abstracts selected for the 2015 IACUC conference. Read on to be inspired to submit your own work.  Learn more about the 2016 IACUC Conference Poster Presentation Program.

A Global Approach to Building a Positive Reinforcement Training Program for Research Animals
Donna Church; Melissa Dragon; Jay Fortner; Claudine Fredette; Kristen Giordano; Lauren Kelley; Zoltan Nagy; Stella Rapa; Susan Rubino; Ronelle Savoie; Brett Sylvester; LaWanda Thompson
Pfizer Inc.

There is growing recognition of the use of positive reinforcement training (PRT) as a valuable tool to improve the care and management of research animals and facilitate their participation in research protocols. PRT programs across Pfizer sites have primarily focused on nonhuman primates and have included activities such as voluntary presentation of limbs for blood collection, stationing at the front of the cage while telemetry devices are turned on or off, and pressing sipper valves to verify proper function. In 2014, Pfizer Comparative Medicine established a global Positive Reinforcement Training Team to align and expand the PRT programs at each site. Building a global team allowed those sites with experienced animal trainers to share their knowledge, creating a resource to harmonize and expand the use of PRT. Based on approved guiding principles, the global PRT team created a team charter that established a purpose and mission, provided a scope for the team, and created a phased approach for program development and deliverables. The team’s achievements included identifying training efforts across all Pfizer sites, creating a global web site resource for information related to Pfizer’s PRT programs, creating a PRT terminology reference document, standardizing PRT provisions in various regulatory documents, and creating a formal process for new animal training projects that will include review and input from the global team. Our next steps will include developing a program to train staff and increasing technician time for PRT activities, allowing us to expand on the work we are currently doing. The creation of this global team, which pulls together as needed to create positive reinforcement training plans and provide expertise to solve training problems has provided additional resources for all sites, created a format to look for innovative ways that PRT can be used to improve animal welfare, and has been critical in creating a foundation to ensure harmonization and excellence for the growing PRT program at Pfizer.

 A Survey of Animal User Training Programs Across Academia, Industry, and Medical Centers
Gina Prochilo-Cawston, MS, CPIA, PMP, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center;  Carolyn Brown, CPIA, Boston University; Dotty Paquin, MBA, BS, CMAR, LATG, CVT,
Pfizer Inc.

A survey was created and the authors sought to quantify the following animal user training program components:

  • How do you become aware of training needs?
  • Is animal user training outside of general IACUC training a requirement prior to beginning work?
  • Is there a designated animal user trainer at your institution? Is training their full time responsibility?
  • Does the training program involve in person presentations, hands-on wet labs and/or online learning modules?
  • Are there additional training requirements for specific procedures or species? If so, what are they?
  • Do you assess proficiency for new personnel? If so, how?
  • Do you reassess proficiency for established personnel? If so, how?

The authors in person, via telephone and emails, sought responses to a survey to assess training programs across institutions, including Academia, Industry and Medical Centers.

Association of Primate Veterinarians Nonhuman Primate Housing Survey
Taylor Bennett, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, DACAW
National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR)

The New England Antivivisectionist Society filed a petition with the USDA requesting that the Secretary of Agriculture exercise his authority under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) “to promulgate clear standards and definitions to promote the psychological well-being and appropriate environment for primates in research.” They justify this request by stating that, “a lack of concrete, measurable, and enforceable definitions and criteria within the regulations has resulted in almost no meaningful regulation of the psychological well-being of primates used in research, and a lack of congruent application across facilities.”  To address some of the misinformation in the petition a survey was conducted of those institutions housing NHPs to determine how the animals are currently being housed.

Using the USDA data base of Annual Reports submitted by research facilities, those housing NHPs in FY2013 were identified. A variety of association data bases were then used to identify contacts at those institutions and a survey sent to them. The survey instrument was modeled on the one conducted by the USDA’s Animal Care division in 2000 and 2001 and a follow-up survey conducted by the author in 2010 as part of a presentation at the annual APV workshop. The current survey will collect data on five housing scenarios for each of the USDA six housing groups. The 2014 data will be compared with the data from the previous USDA survey to document the changes in social housing of NHPs in research facilities.

Continuing Education for IACUC Members
Amy F. Kilpatrick BA, RLATg, CVT; Alison Hayward, DVM

Providing continuing education for IACUC members can be challenging. IACUC members may play several roles at an institution, making their availability for training difficult. Community member’s schedules may also be difficult to accommodate. Additionally, the IACUC may find themselves inundated with protocols and amendments such that there is less time and energy for training. Until recently, our continuing education program has only consisted of a standard “refresher” IACUC presentation annually. We wanted to find additional continuing education opportunities to help our members grow and utilize these on a regular basis in addition to the annual refresher training. We aimed to create ways to access resources and accomplish training that could be easily implemented at any institution. We expect these continuing education opportunities to engage all IACUC members and create a more educated and informed IACUC.

We looked at different ways of implementing a formalized ongoing training program for our IACUC members and found that no single method seemed to fit. To truly create a comprehensive training program you must utilize a variety of methods and resources. Many institutions use computer based or online modules. Although these are useful, we found that these don’t readily engage members and don’t promote discussion or problem solving. Our training program utilizes multiple methods. We give a standardized on board training presentation for IACUC members capturing the essence of the regulations and the roles and responsibilities of IACUC members. We provide a resource binder and CD along with a training session on the contents and how to use them. We continue to provide an annual training that includes updates on the regulations, and relevant topics. Topics such as “How to Review a Protocol,” presenting the regulatory basis for the review requirements, a checklist for ease of review and some helpful tips and “Cost/Benefit Analysis,” introducing a more formalized process to assess the ethical impact of animal research are included. One of the most efficient and effective ways we are able to incorporate continuing education is discussion of the “Protocol Review” article in Lab Animal magazine at our monthly meetings. We have a different member present the article and lead discussion each month. This ensures participation by all members. We also utilize the monthly meetings to present any interesting articles or updates from regulatory agencies. We take advantage of webinars from NABR, MSMR, and other organizations whenever we can and try to always have at least one member attend these so they can present main points to the rest of the committee. Utilizing the monthly meetings to provide a more structured continuing education program has proven to be effective. The time is allocated as part of the scheduled meetings so does not create an additional burden. All members have been actively participating in these discussions. Our annual trainings are mandatory for all members. These do require some flexibility of the presenter/trainer as sometimes multiple sessions are required to capture all members. The feedback for these has been positive and application of knowledge obtained from these sessions is apparent in the day to day interactions of our IACUC. Utilizing a myriad of resources and methods for continuing education sustains interest among IACUC members and provides opportunities for all to participate effectively and efficiently. Since implementing additional training resources, we have observed more thorough protocol review, more application of critical thinking, and have developed the ability to identify potential issues before they arise. This program has been successful at our institution and we believe it can be implemented at institutions of any size. Continuing education for IACUC members can consist of frequent sessions and can promote a culture of ongoing discussion, sharing and learning.

Current and Prospective Status for Scientific Research on Fish Welfare in Egypt
Khadiga Gaafar
Cairo University

Fish represent an alternative protein source, as well as it serves as an excellent bio indicator for pollution. Moreover, fish represent the most diverse group of animals in the vertebrate phylum, characterized by an array of anatomical, biochemical, physiological, and behavioral repertoires. Egypt has a variety of water surfaces; the River Nile, a running fresh water artery, many fresh and salty lakes, the Red Sea to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. In addition to the many aquatic farms. In Egypt, fish is the third most used experimental animal in research following rats and mice, due to its importance as an alternative protein source, as well as its role as an excellent bio indicator for pollution. Moreover, fish represent the most diverse group of animals in the vertebrate phylum, characterized by an array of anatomical, biochemical, physiological, and behavioral repertoires. The 2014 Egyptian constitution in Articles 30 and 45 guarantee the preservation of animal and fish resources, the protection of those under threat of extinction and guarantees humane treatment of animals. The new Egyptian Penal Code 2013, the Environmental Law and the Agricultural Law stress on the importance of fish welfare in Egypt, but there is still little legislation in place to ensure fish welfare. Owing to the importance of the animal’s welfare and its pivotal role in the reproducibility and standardization of results, the present study aims to determine the current status of awareness of Egyptian researchers regarding the application of the ethical guidelines for the humane use of fish in their design of protocols presented for approval by the IACUC, and to what extent these guidelines serve as an effective mnemonic tool when reviewing fish protocols.