Attendees of the recent 2015 IACUC Conference participated in practice sessions designed to facilitate some hard choices. Teams reviewed a “protocol” (a proposal for research). Not only were participants asked to question whether the behavior of these “mock” proposals complied with the laws governing humane treatment of animals, but they were asked to consider the ethical questions of whether the proposal could pass to actionable as both compassionate and thorough.
Ok, it’s a mouthful, but this year’s highlight was going over the Veterinarian Verification and Consult (VVC) process of minor vs. major protocol changes. This catchy new acronym was the talk of the conference and explained in detail during the event. Simply, it’s like this: If a scientist submits a proposed way of working with animals, and then and has a small change to add, does research that could benefit humans have to delay because of it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the scope of change.
An Institutional Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is unique to any organization that works with animals, and consists of at least one veterinarian who has training in laboratory animal science and expertise in the species under review and consideration, at least one practicing research scientist, at least one member whose primary concerns are in a nonscientific area (i.e., ethicist, lawyer, member of the clergy), and at least one person not affiliated with the institution to represent community interests in proper care and use of animals.
On Monday, February 23, 2015 our color-coded badges distinguished each attendee with a committee role. Despite the afternoon break sugar rush from the malted milk balls, MC James Riddle was able to quickly transition participants into forming mock IACUCs at each of the tables. Next, we sought to solve tricky VVC –related protocol scenarios.
It was easily the cherry on top of the sundae, aside from the sunny skies viewable through the large bay windows, but pairing with strangers served as a great networking opportunity for our regulatory community. Allowing time to exchange expertise across multiple fields and backgrounds was invaluable. We could step Out of the Mouse Cage a bit, to see what perspective someone from a different institution might have.
Mock protocol review sessions during a conference, what a great idea!
Guest blogger Andrea S. attended last week’s Conference Beyond the Mouse Cage: Human Health in Motion at Bell Harbor. She currently supports IACUC work at Western Washington University.