Creating a Culture of Welfare from the Contributions of Individuals

By Angela Craig, DVM, lab animal veterinarian and IACUC member, University of Minnesota

PRIM&R is pleased to share a post from Angela Craig, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2015 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who will blog here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what happened at the conference in Boston, MA.

Every IACUC is charged with the responsibility of analyzing the potential harm experienced by animals in the course of research versus the benefit to society of that research. Though IACUC members understand this is an essential component of protocol review, and our regulations dictate its importance, actual implementation can feel nebulous. Are we doing enough? Are our discussions robust? I attended the session The Analysis of Harm vs. Benefit at the 2015 IACUC Conference to learn more about how to effectively contribute to the discussion and ensure best practices.

Scientists rely on method and proof to feel confident in their conclusions. Harm/benefit analysis is less concrete. Like many in the room, I had hoped to come away with a stepwise process for doing it right, but I quickly understood that there is no single road map. Rather, it is an art that takes practice, patience, and a commitment to continually educating oneself in the 3Rs of replacement, refinement, and reduction.  As stated in the session description, it is about creating a “culture of [animal] welfare” by promoting a “more rigorous harm/benefit review.”

This session was noted in the conference materials as using discussion as a learning method – and with good reason.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.