Work to Ensure the Safety and Wellbeing of the Animals: An Interview with Candace Beiler

By Megan Frame, membership manager

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we will introduce you to PRIM&R’s members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. This member interview is especially fitting because April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, a time when we celebrate the time and talent our volunteers dedicate to PRIM&R.

Please read on to learn more about Candace Beiler, one of our valuable volunteers, and IACUC Administrator at Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, MA.
Megan Frame (MF): When and why did you join the field?
Candace Beiler (CB): I joined the field in 2005 because I have a strong love for animals, as well as science, and I wanted to be able to pursue my interests, learn new things, and challenge myself in new ways.
MF: What’s one specific challenge that you have faced during your career, and how did you overcome it?
CB: I started my career as a veterinary technologist and loved every minute that I spent with the animals, ensuring that their health and care needs were met. After obtaining my master’s degree, I started thinking I wanted to see a bigger picture of animal research and decided to move into an IACUC role and learn the regulatory aspects of the field. This was a big challenge for me because as a veterinary technologist (in my mind), I was the person providing direct care to the animals, and therefore felt confident they were being well cared for. Moving away from that position was difficult.
I overcame that feeling by realizing that, from the IACUC and regulatory side of things, I can still work to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the animals, and further advance animal care by educating laboratories and members of the community of the importance of the humane care and welfare of the animals in research.
MF: What is one thing you wish the general public knew about animal research?
CB: Mainly, I wish that the general public knew how well animals are treated in research. I have worked with so many different people in the field, and have seen the care, love, and sensitivity that everyone provides. I wish the public better understood that every animal in research is so well cared for throughout their lives and that each animal whose life is being sacrificed is saving the life of a loved one out there.
MF: What motivates you to maintain your commitment to advancing ethical research?
CB: My father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, and passed away from this horrific disease in 2009. He and all other people suffering from currently incurable diseases are my motivation to maintain my commitment to advancing ethical research. Continued research is what is going to save the lives of others. My father could not be saved, but there are plenty of others out there whose lives can be improved or saved through new treatment methods discovered through research.
MF: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have made a significant impact on your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you?
CB: PRIM&R’s IACUC Conferences always make a significant impact on my approach to my work. There have been many influential talks and discussions that I have attended that inspire me to bring new ideas and concepts back to my job. I attended a talk at the 2014 IACUC Conference in Denver that discussed harm/benefit for balancing ethics, compliance, and science when performing reviews of protocols. After attending this discussion, it made me pay closer attention when reviewing protocols as to whether there is both institutional compliance and ethical responsibility, while still enabling research. The different views that other attendees had regarding this topic were also influential to me and my approach to work.
MF: How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career or do your job better?
CB: There are many ways that my PRIM&R membership has helped me advance in my career and also do my job better. Obtaining the CPIA® credential through PRIM&R allowed me to advance in my job, as well as improve my job performance. Preparing for the exam and reviewing all of the materials taught me a lot that I now apply to my job every day.
My experiences at PRIM&R’s IACUC Conferences have not only supported me in my job, but they have also introduced me to people within the field. There are many people whom I have met through PRIM&R that I reach out to for advice on a specific topic, or just to see how they do certain things at their institutions. I have also made personal friendships with many people whom I have met at the conferences.
One of the more recent benefits I have taken advantage of through my PRIM&R membership is the Mentoring Program. I have been a mentor for two mentees and have been able to guide them with my knowledge and experiences, and have also learned a lot from them as well.
Thank you for being part of the membership community and volunteering your time with us as a mentor, Candace! Our community wouldn’t be as strong without the support of members like you.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website today.