Yesterday Pirbright hosted the third annual seminar series addressing the ethical use of animals in research. The previous two events were focused on the 3Rs, the principles of Reduction (in numbers), Refinement (of procedures) and Replacement (with laboratory procedures). This year provided a wider discussion forum for Animal Technicians, researchers, AWERB members and others to share good practice and exchange ideas.
“We had over 40 external attendees from organisations across the country with an excellent line up of speakers including Pirbright Animal Technicians, who gave a really well received presentation on refinements that have been successfully evaluated and implemented here at the Institute”, said Lauren Cresser, the Home Office Liaison Contact and Named Information Officer for The Pirbright Institute.
The day started with a welcome from Dr Michael Johnson, Director of Capability and the establishment licence holder. After that Dr Penny Hawkins and Dr Juliet Dukes from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSCPA) broke down what the 3Rs mean in use in the lab. The 3Rs were developed over 50 years ago as a framework for humane animal research and still provide the benchmark today.
After lunch Dr Andy Greenfield from Medical Research Council Harwell Institute (MRC Harwell) gave an excellent talk called The Human Prejudice, which ended with a thought provoking quote from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCOB) – “Regulation can act as an emotional screen between the researcher and an animal, possibly encouraging researchers to believe that simply to conform to regulations is to act in a moral way. It is therefore crucial to promote best practice more actively and to improve the culture of care in establishments licenced to conduct experiments using animals.” He was followed by Pirbright’s Dr Simon Gubbins, Group Leader in Transmission Biology, who provided an insight into the design of experiments that include animals, including how many animals are requirement for statistical significance while consciously keeping in mind the 3R principles.
In the final session following afternoon tea Professor Sarah Wolfensohn OBE, Professor of Animal Welfare in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey and European Recognised Specialist in Laboratory Animal Science, spoke about looking at animal experiments after their completion and doing a retrospective assessment in order to refine future experiments. This included the use of the newly developed Animal Welfare Assessment Grid (AWAG), a unique software tool for assessing and quantifying the lifetime experience of individuals or groups of animals. In the final talk Dr Luke Williams from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) outlined the BBSRC’s policy and advice on animal use in research when applying for funding.
In all it was a packed day and attendees came away with a lot of constructive information they could put to use. “This annual meeting (which has strong support of management) is just one of the ways we can demonstrate the Institute’s commitment to a culture of care and animal welfare”, said Lauren Cresser.
For more information visit our Animals in Research pages.