Animals Research at UBC


2010 CCAC Assessment Report on Animal Care and Use at UBC

Serious Recommendations & Commentary

Background

The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) assesses and certifies university animal care and use programs every three years based on site visits which consist of the inspection of all animal research and housing facilities and a detailed review of research protocols, veterinarian reports and Animal Care Committee documents. The assessment panel, composed of scientists, veterinarians and community representatives, then issues an Assessment Report that includes commendations and recommendations in three categories: Major, Serious and Regular.

No Major Recommendations were made as a result of the 2010 visit to UBC and a review of its animal care and use program. The report lists six Serious Recommendations – to improve facility management, monitoring and tracking, and to enhance veterinary services – and a variety of Regular Recommendations. Categories of CCAC Recommendations are described at www.ccac.ca/en_/standards/policies/faq-ccac-policy-statement-on-recommendations.

UBC was required to provide an implementation report to the CCAC addressing the Serious Recommendations within three months of receiving the assessment report. The following is a summary of Serious Recommendations and UBC’s efforts (in blue type) to address the Panel's concerns. The names of individual researchers and facilities have been redacted for safety and security reasons.

Serious Recommendations & Commentary

The following are a summary of the six Serious Recommendations and UBC’s actions to date:

  1. That, in parallel with the work to complete appropriate new and renovated animal facilities, UBC ensure that appropriate management of all facilities is in place, and more specifically that:
a) before animals begin to be used, the ACC formally approve each area where animals are to be housed or used, based on the adequacy of infrastructure and of animal care and facility management for various groups of animals, with the best use being made of the most appropriate facilities for each species and type of work;

UBC has invested more than $100 million in building new state-of-the-art animal care facilities while upgrading existing ones. Since 2004, the number of facilities has decreased from 34 to 22, allowing for better use of resources, management and veterinary services. Many of the new and upgraded facilities provide care and housing above and beyond standards currently required by CCAC guidelines and regulations, including enhanced environmental enrichment that allows animals to express natural behaviours.

All facilities are subject to Post-Approval Monitoring visits by both the Animal Care Committee (ACC) and audits by clinical veterinarians.

b) one or more veterinarian(s) with authority and responsibility for supporting the institutional animal care and use program must be involved in all issues and activities that relate in any way to animal care and use;

UBC veterinary staff is directly involved in all aspects of the care and use of research animals. For example:

  • They are voting members of animal user committees at all facilities.
  • At least one, and often more than one, veterinary staff member attends each meeting of the ACC.
  • At least one veterinarian participates in ACC policy and post-approval monitoring sub-committees.
  • UBC veterinarians design and implement hands-on training and assessment of all principal investigators, staff and students who handle animals as part of their research.
  • UBC veterinarians participate in ACC site visits to facilities and help develop procedures and protocols.
c) a qualified facility manager be designated for each animal unit, with the facility manager and animal care staff having reporting lines that avoid conflicts of interest and allow for effective communication and resolution of animal health and welfare concerns;

All animal facilities have a qualified manager, reporting to an animal-user committee and its chair. The direct report may also be the administrative leader for the specific facility.

Each facility also has a clinical veterinarian assigned to it and facility managers are encouraged to contact the assigned veterinarian, the Director of Animal Care, or Chair of the ACC should they have any emerging concerns.

d) facility managers and key facility personnel be provided with appropriate continuing education;

The UBC Animal Care and Use Program provides regular educational opportunities and individual facility also budgets for the provision of educational activities for technical and veterinary staff.

In conjunction with the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, UBC founded the Diane Minshall Memorial Fund scholarship, which funds technical staff to attend animal welfare conferences.

UBC animal care staff is actively involved in the Canadian Association of Laboratory Animal Sciences (CALAS) and the Canadian Association of Laboratory Animal Medicine (CALAM).

e) the work of students and other research team members providing animal care be overseen by animal health professionals;
f) students only conduct animal-based procedures, and in particular invasive procedures, if they have been trained at least in part by animal health professionals and found to be competent, and if they are included on approved animal use protocols.

All graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff involved in animal research must complete training that covers anesthesia, surgery and rodent biology, and pass written and hands-on exams designed and implemented by veterinarians. Practical courses are mandatory for rodent users. A certificate is then issued and is valid for five years. All personnel are retrained and re-certified every five years and annual animal care workshops are held. The UBC Animal Care and Use Program has the authority to halt the release of research funding if certificates aren’t up-to-date.

Approximately 800 research staff and graduate students are trained each year. The training program runs continuously year-round and the maximum wait time to complete all courses is two months.

Undergraduate students involved in short-term research projects are not required to complete a full suite of training, or to be formally listed in research protocols, but are personally supervised by senior researchers at all times while working with animals.

When new students and staff join research projects, they are added to the approved animal research protocols by amendment. Only those who actively handle animals are listed in protocols and each listing details how the individual is involved in animal research and their training.

Students can confidentially contact the Director of Animal Care or the Animal Care Committee if they are uncomfortable with any aspect of the research with which they are involved, or with the behaviour of their colleagues. See www.ors.ubc.ca/contents/animal-care-faq.

2. That, with respect to post-approval monitoring, all relevant elements be included within the UBC Policy on Post-Approval Monitoring and that the policy establish the central role and responsibility of the Animal Care Committee in post-approval monitoring. That, in addition:

The UBC Post-Approval Monitoring policy gives the ACC overall responsibility for post-approval monitoring.

A veterinarian is assigned to monitor and continuously review the progress of research protocols and care of animals as part of UBC's post-approval monitoring program, one of the most comprehensive in Canada. Under the purview of the Office of Research Services, the post-approval monitoring program has the authority to halt research funding.

a) the ACC ensure that monitoring records are consistently kept in each animal holding room for each group of animals, to ensure that:
i. the status of animals can easily be checked at any time, with a summary of procedures conducted on animals;
ii. animals have been observed and cared for as appropriate on a daily basis;
iii. information on protocol specific humane intervention points/endpoints is available, and that clinical indicators are monitored and endpoints applied as agreed upon in the approved protocol;

Daily monitoring records are kept on paper and/or electronically. In both cases, records are easily accessible by the facility manager. These records are also readily available to the ACC and veterinary staff for regular post-approval monitoring site visits.

b) given the size of the program and the concerns noted by the Animal Care Committee and during the assessment visit, more resources be allocated to continuing review of animal-based work.

A budget increase to the Office of Research Services, which oversees post-approval monitoring in conjunction with the ACC, has been implemented subsequent to the CCAC visit.

A veterinarian is assigned to monitor and continuously review the progress of research protocols and care of animals as part of UBC's post-approval monitoring program, one of the most comprehensive in Canada. Under the purview of the Office of Research Services, the post-approval monitoring program has the authority to halt research funding.

3. That sufficient veterinary services be available for
a) animal user and staff training; b) support services to all researchers and clinical services to all groups of animals, including the animals in facilities and the aquatic animals; c) the development, review and implementation of standard operating procedures; d) work with the Animal Care Committee and with other associated committees.

Clinical veterinarians have grown from one in 2005 to five in 2012, with a sixth currently being considered. This, coupled with centralizing research facilities from 34 to 22 and the completion of a new state-of-the-art facility, enables veterinarians to visit sites in frequency that far exceeds the mandated requirement of the CCAC.

Veterinary staff are on call 24/7, 365 days a year for emergencies involving animals.

Veterinary staff also develop, implement and certify training for students and research staff.

A system is also being implemented to enable facilities without in-house veterinary staff to provide daily reports to vets in charge of their facilities.

4. That the numbers of all animals used, whether bought from commercial sources, acquired from other institutions, caught in the wild, or bred, be consistently checked against numbers on approved protocols, with animals commercially acquired being checked automatically against approved numbers, and numbers of other animals being reported as they are acquired or bred.

The majority of animal numbers reporting takes place over various intervals according to the study cycle. A comprehensive count is done annually as per reporting requirements to the CCAC.

The Animal Care Committee at UBC instituted a daily cencus system in March 1, 2011 and the Office of Research Services maintains daily record keeping.

UBC is in the process of identifying an appropriate electronic system to integrate the tracking of animals and research protocols. Once identified and purchased, the system will be made available to all facilities.

5. That, given the deficiencies in the infrastructure of the [facility name redacted for safety and security reasons], plans be developed and implemented, with a timeline provided to the CCAC, to either renovate the existing facilities or move the animal care and use presently undertaken at to facilities that meet CCAC guidelines.

This facility is currently scheduled for renovation and upgrades in late 2012.

6. That, as the aquatic animal users move towards much improved facilities, the procedures for the management and care of fish also be improved, and more specifically that: a) a structure for animal care and facility management, independent of individual research teams, be defined and implemented as planned, with qualified personnel for operations and for aquatic animal health and welfare, including oversight of invasive procedures and of application of endpoints as described in approved animal use protocols;

A new, multi-million dollar aquatic research facility has recently been completed. Aquatic laboratories in this facility are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to house fish, amphibians and small aquatic reptiles. The centralization of aquatic animal facilities will greatly enhance management and veterinary care.

b) tailored training be implemented for all aquatic animal users;

A new training program involving some of Canada's leading researchers at UBC is currently being developed and implemented. The program includes both classroom and hands-on sessions and will be offered twice a year to train researchers, staff and students.

c) a comprehensive veterinary program be developed for aquatic species, with regular veterinary visits to all aquatic facilities;

UBC's Director of Animal Care has worked with the CCAC and UBC’s leading aquatic researchers to establish and implement fish-specific guidelines.

d) careful monitoring of aquatic animal health and welfare be ensured during the transition period, with animal housing being limited to Animal Care Committee approved areas.

All aquatic animal research protocols were subject to the same safeguards and post-approval monitoring measures. The move to new state-of-the-art facilities is now complete.

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