A Win – Win Situation! – Guest Blogger Saradha S. (Part 2)


Furthering my previous post, the 2015 IACUC conference organized by NWABR at Seattle this February left me with this – biomedical study protocols involving animals may not seem to be the most humane choice for many but more often than not, they turn out to be the best available choice.

The conference encompassed many aspects of IACUCs including protocol reviews, reducing regulatory burden, similarities/differences among ‘IACUC’ regulations around the world and much more. Of particular interest to me, though, was a session where researchers shared their experience in using non-primate animals under a research setting; this session showcased ways in which animals were subjects for research, aided research, and were saved by research. The takeaway for me – it’s not just about making use of them but being able to help them in turn. I met many people who not only had the right to work with animals, but felt the responsibility to protect them.

Some of these research teams have had issues such as long turnaround time to get protocols approved (highly disruptive for patients depending on studies like gene therapy) while some others are extremely happy with all the support and assistance they get from the IACUCs.

Such research that aims for the greater good is entrenched in ethical debate, it appears.

Kudos to the IACUCs for their efforts to instill strong ethical standards in every research lab that deals with such fascinating creatures as animals!

Kudos to the biomedical research community for the drive and dedication with which they strive to solve unanswered questions about animal and human health, despite all odds!

Kudos to NWABR for facilitating this great event!  Let’s continue the conversation.

Saradha is a Business development professional with international experience in marketing, inside sales and market research. She brings her MS in Biotechnology with post-graduate studies in business administration and several biotech industry internships to bear as a volunteer in the life sciences

Wild About Whale Research, Scatologically Speaking

Wasser 1 Wasser 2

Have you heard the story about the rescue dog that is helping scientists understand why killer whales are struggling to reproduce in Puget Sound? If you were at the 2015 NWABR IACUC Conference, then you got to hear conservation biologist Dr. Samuel K. Wasser share an amazing story of hope.

Sam Wasser and his team identify dogs with intense ball-drive. They train the dogs to identify a variety of scat (yes, that’s poo) by scent from endangered animals in the animal’s native environment. For killer whales, this means the dogs like “Tucker” learn to track whale scat for scientists from boats on Puget Sound, braving the environmental challenges of wind, currents, and a 30 minute window to collect the sample before the whale scat breaks apart and sinks.

Collecting and analyzing samples enables Sam Wasser and his team to build robust, individual health profiles about endangered animals without ever seeing them, touching them, or disturbing their environment. Through these profiles, Sam and his team are able to understand the underlying nutritional, reproductive, and environmental factors that are impacting endangered species.

The dogs bring positive attention to research. Tourists on the whale boats ask their guides what the dogs are doing, and the guides help educate the public about how dogs provide scientists a better understanding of the environmental challenges facing the whales.

But the story is bigger than whales, if that’s even possible. The rescue dogs are helping to determine patterns in other threatened animals.  I came away inspired by Dr. Wasser’s creative, insightful, and practical approach to research, and the wonderful potential that exists when sound science and animal welfare intersect.

Institutional Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) like ones at the University of Washington take part in reviewing how these field animals will be used in research, and make recommendations for safety and compliance. Kind thanks to Shannon R., Regulatory Compliance Specialist at the Allen Institute for her thoughts and blog entry, and Sam Wasser for his ongoing important work!

Better Them Than Me? –Guest Blogger Saradha S.

NWABR features of series of volunteer guest bloggers over the next months who will be documenting programs, speakers and events. We thank each contributor for their time, talent and opinions.


As a compassionate member of the public, my first professional foray into the much talked about field of bioethics happens next week.  I’m looking forward to a transition from coffee shop talk to finding out what really happens behind the scenes in biomedical research.

I come, as we all do, with questions. Is the scientific community really as unconcerned about bioethics as we make them out to be, or is there something that the public is missing here? While news pieces like this recent one get me thinking about the downside of using animals for research, it also makes me question all the big and small advantages I’ve (or anyone I care about) had from such research on animals, and it leads me to consider a conflict among the research fraternity about the best way to conduct animal research. How does such conflict get resolved? I want the real story.

It’s these and many such musings that drew me to NWABR and the 2015 IACUC conference organized in Seattle this February. I realized there was a lot more I needed to know about ethical research. I’m hoping that the IACUC conference will provide me an opportunity to learn more about how and why we consider our fellow living beings (animals) and how we are responsible to save, protect and treat them and beyond them, how we protect ourselves from disease and suffering. With luck this valuable forum enables our scientific community to interact among themselves and share their best practices to make sure animals are used in the most humane, painless and responsible manner. 

So I’m looking forward to catch a glimpse of the deliberation and debate around research animals and the role of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees gathered here!

Saradha is a Business development professional with international experience in marketing, inside sales and market research.  She brings her MS in Biotechnology with post-graduate studies in business development and several biotech industry internships to bear as a volunteer in the life sciences

Bridging the Gap at UW: A Post-Conference Networking Event and Zebrafish Facility Tour

zebra fish

Zebra Fish

It’s a fun, limited space event for members and attendees. 

It’s all happening on Tuesday February 24th following the 2015 IACUC Conference.  NWABR in partnership with the University of Washington Office of Animal Welfare sponsors the 1st Annual behind-the-scenes look at various components of UW animal care and use program and a guided tour/mock IACUC inspection of one of their state-of-the-art zebrafish facilities. 

You wanted low-key and casual – and here it is, a networking event bringing together IACUC administrators/staff, researchers, educators, leaders, government officials and others who play a role in conducting outstanding service to the research community. It’s a bit of training and touring, a bit of lunch, and an interactive mock-iacuc review.

We’ll exchange ideas that are instrumental in creating a culture of compliance. Our goal is to strengthen IACUC administrative relationships throughout the region, and learn from each other.

If you have an interest in attending, email to Janine at conferences@nwabr.org.

Bring ideas and a notebook. We are stronger when we share ideas, best practices and passion.  We’ll see you there. 

Janine Kennedy

Conference Lead

Northwest Association for Biomedical Research

NWABR Members Speak Up For Research

These two exceptional editorials from leaders in the Oregon Health and Science University community stand out for their thoughtful approach to advancing public understanding of biomedical research.

Please read, share, and comment: