Animals Research at UBC


2013 CCAC Assessment Report on Animal Care and Use at UBC

Background

Every three years the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) assesses and certifies Canadian universities’ animal care and use programs. The assessment panel is composed of scientists, veterinarians experienced in laboratory animal medicine and community representatives. The panel assesses all aspects of the program including animal research and housing facilities and reviews research protocols.

Assessment Reports include commendations and recommendations in three categories: Major, Serious and Regular. Categories of CCAC Recommendations are described at http://www.ccac.ca/en_/standards/policies/faq-ccac-policy-statement-on-recommendations

In its 2013 assessment of UBC’s Animal Research program, CCAC made a number of regular recommendations and one serious recommendation. No major recommendations were made by CCAC as part of the assessment.

As required, UBC replied to all recommendations.

The following consists of CCAC’s Serious Recommendation (in black type) followed by a summary of UBC’s response (in blue). Names of individual researchers and facilities have been removed from the summary for safety and security.

Serious Recommendation & Response

CCAC Serious Recommendation

  1. That the efforts being made by UBC to work towards good communication and collaboration at all levels of the animal care and use program be strongly supported, with good integration of the knowledge and efforts of the researchers, the veterinarians, the animal care staff and the Animal Care Committee (ACC), good use of tools such as RISe, and more specifically with:
a) Sufficient veterinary resources for all parts of the program working within a sound overall structure, with the schedule and nature of veterinary visits to animal facilities being adapted to the animal-based work in each facility and being focused on services and support to animals and users

In order to increase clinical veterinary resources, a new University Veterinarian was appointed in September 2014 in a restructured role that will allow a greater time commitment to veterinary services. Other administrative and strategic duties are handled by the Director of Business Development and Operations and the Director of Finance. The new University Veterinarian joined an existing team of three clinical veterinarians and a fourth veterinarian responsible for continuing review. The Animal Care Committee can also require researchers to hire a research veterinarian where protocols require additional care that could not be otherwise met.

Veterinarians continue to regularly visit facilities in a collaborative manner with the facility managers. This provides for the veterinary staff to maintain standards and harmonization of animal care and use across UBC.

A training program is an important pillar of any animal care and use program by ensuring best practice throughout the entire program. UBC has made its training program a priority by expanding to provide more in-depth training in the initial training classes and to add the assessment of demonstrated competency within the laboratory setting.

b) Continued work by the research teams, veterinary and animal care staff and ACC to:

i. Adjust monitoring records/tools to be clear, user-friendly and well adapted to each type of animal work, to agree on monitoring frequency and reporting, and to consistently and appropriately use agreed-upon records for invasive uses of animals and endpoints, in order to clearly communicate information between the research and animal care teams

The ACC monitoring policy is being revised by the ACC Policy Committee with input from veterinarians, facility managers and researchers and will be approved by the ACC before the end of 2014. This updated policy requires that all monitoring activities and associated records meet a minimum standard with specific guidelines on basic content.

Included in the guidelines are recommendations for the frequency and duration of observations and weighing, details of supportive care, and specific clinical signs that need to be monitored. In order to harmonize animal health monitoring across all facilities, templates are being refined for common scenarios and situations and veterinarians work closely with research groups to develop monitoring practices that are appropriate. A training course on monitoring sheets and requirements is also being developed.

ii. Contribute to agreements to ensure the best use of each animal facility, to maximize the use of space and organize each facility to meet user needs and ensure sound standards of animal care and biosecurity

UBC’s In Vivo Research Facilitation Committee (IVRFC), with senior representation from all major animal facilities, UBC’s Animal Care Services, the ACC and faculties, focuses specifically on strategic issues regarding animal facilities, such as capital planning, reviews of policy and procedures and strategic financial planning. Intensive work is underway to facilitate the planning for the optimal design, reconfiguration and operation of multiple facilities involving extensive researcher input.

c) Emphasis on the sharing of good practices and the use of appropriate standard operating procedures (SOPs) throughout the system, with veterinary, animal care staff, research teams and the ACC collaborating to identify, review and apply appropriate SOPs

UBC is developing a secure site which will allow for the sharing of existing ACC approved SOPs between researchers and facilities. Our plan is to refine and standardize SOP templates to harmonize practices across the program.

d) Emphasis on the role of animal health technicians as key personnel in the decentralized system, to facilitate follow-up of any concerns with animals and ensure ongoing assistance to and training of animal users throughout the system

Highly skilled animal health technicians are responsible for communicating emerging issues to clinical veterinarians. Enhanced training support, particularly related to competency assessment is being provided, and a model for the potential expansion of the role of technicians is being developed.

e) The ACC considering further ways to make its processes more effective and efficient, in particular by defining major and minor amendments to protocols, by facilitating the submission and approval of amendments, and by consolidating comments on protocols to focus on those questions with a direct impact on animal welfare

The ACC has implemented protocol preparation and drop-in assistance to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of ACC protocol review. ACC has also established new guidelines and definitions for minor and major amendments in protocols.

Minor amendments are predominantly administrative, not invasive and do not have an impact on welfare. Minor amendments can be conditionally approved allowing a researcher 30 days to amend the protocol.

Major amendments are defined as changes that are considered to have an impact on animal welfare. Major amendments must be approved by the full ACC.

Member comments on protocol amendments are being consolidated through discussion at ACC meetings. If there is uncertainty about comments concerning protocol amendments, clarification is sought from the ACC Chair.

f) Mechanisms to ensure that, whether animals are acquired, bred or captured, these numbers as well as the numbers of animals used are appropriately checked against ACC-approved numbers of animals in all cases and for all facilities, within the RISe system

All animals used are reconciled against approved ACC protocols and there are mechanisms in place to prevent use of animals beyond the approved number.

UBC invested in eSirius, a new on-line research information management system, which checks all orders against ACC-approved numbers.

Another software purchase, Mosaic Vivarium is being implemented in ACS rodent facilities. This software will help ensure breeding animal numbers are maintained efficiently and accurately. Our goal is to eventually have all rodent-based research facilities using the same or similar system to track these numbers.

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Animal Research
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