Announcing Keynote Speakers for the Laboratory Animal Sciences Virtual Conference February 3-4, 2016

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The LabRoots Laboratory Animal Sciences Virtual Conference is right around the corner! We are proud to announce the remarkable keynote speakers for this conference. These speakers will be discussing the optimization of the reproducibility of animal studies as well as the optimization of the conduct and implementation of animal studies. Register today to save your spot and learn about the best approaches to animal studies in your research.

Wednesday, February 3rd at 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PT
Keynote: Risks of Bias in in vivo research – and what to do about them


Malcolm Macleod BSc(Hons) MBChB PhD FRCP Ed
Professor of Neurology and Translational Neuroscience, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh

 

Translational failure in biomedicine has led to much soul-searching about the causes for this. Amongst many others (misunderstanding of statistical tests, vibration of effects, flexibility in data analysis, HARKing) there is a primary problem with bias in the way in which animal studies are planned, conducted and analysed. Reporting of measures to reduce the risk of bias  is poor, and the most parsimonious explanation for this is that the measures were not taken (rather than not reported). Studies at such risk of bias give inflated estimates of biological effects.
Risk of bias is a pervasive problem across institutions, journals, and research fields, and attempts to improve research quality have, to date, had little apparent effect. It seems that “on the street”, scientists still feel that the pressure to publish novel findings in journals of high impact is substantially greater than the pressure to conduct their research to the highest (or even to moderately high) quality; and in response to these competing pressures research quality remains low.
To secure greatest value from the resources invested in research (including animals), this needs to be changed.
Two Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will understand the importance, and prevalence, of reporting of measures to reduce the risks of bias in in vivo research
  2. Participants will be aware of some of the proposed strategies to improve the quality of in vivo research

Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM PT
Keynote: Vibration, Noise & Ultrasonic Noise From Vivarium and Lab Equipment as Rapidly Growing Confounds in Animal Research


Jeremy G Turner, PhD
CEO, OtoScience Labs, Professor of Psychology, Illinois College

 

Noise and vibration are very effective activators of stress pathways in rodent models that can increase variability in animal models, thereby confounding virtually every area of biomedical and behavioral research. Noise and vibration in animal facilities is generally not well controlled, managed, or even monitored. With the introduction of more mechanical and technological sources of such noise and vibration in the vivarium space (e.g., IVC caging cage changing stations, computers) the potential impacts of these confounds are greater today than ever. In addition, much of the noise produced by such modern technology is in the ultrasonic range, which we human observers cannot hear, and the noise meters we typically use cannot measure. This talk will focus on the sources of such noise and vibration (IVC caging, animal transport, fluorescent lighting, computers, cage changing stations, lab equipment), why and how they should be measured and monitored, and what strategies administrators and staff can use to minimize or control them as confounds in biomedical research. This talk will also discuss practical steps for minimizing these confounds. Special emphasis will be placed on how these confounds introduce variability in our animal models, serving to hamper our goals of animal model reduction and refinement.

Thursday, February 4th at 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PT
Keynote: The ARRIVE guidelines: Improving the design and reporting of animal research to optimize the reproducibility of animal studies


Katie Lidster, PhD
Science Manager, National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

 

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is leading an initiative to improve the design and reporting of animal research. The ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines (www.nc3rs.org.uk/ARRIVE) were developed in consultation with scientists, statisticians, journal editors and research funders with the aim to maximise information published and minimise unnecessary animal studies. The guidelines consist of a checklist of 20 items, which researchers can use when designing and reporting scientific experiments to ensure animal studies are robust, transparent and reproducible. Over 600 journals, major research funders, universities and learned societies endorse the guidelines and the recent translation of the guidelines into popular languages, has contributed to their widespread international adoption. Following on from the ARRIVE guidelines, the NC3Rs has developed the Experimental Design Assistant (https://eda.nc3rs.org.uk), an online tool to help guide researchers through the design and analysis of their experiments to improve the robustness and transparency of animal studies and ensure the minimum number of animals is used to reach the scientific objectives of the study.

Thursday, February 4th at 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM PT
Keynote: A good death? Are our ‘euthanasia’ methods for lab animals actually humane?


Huw Golledge, PhD
Senior Scientific Programme Manager, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare and the Humane Slaughter Association

 

The fate of all but a very few laboratory animals is to be killed at the end of their experimental lives. There is a moral responsibility to give the animals used in science a humane death by choosing the most humane killing technique; but do we know which ‘euthanasia’ techniques actually give animals a good death?

In this talk I will examine the scientific evidence concerning the humaneness of various killing techniques. Understanding the welfare of animals at the time of killing is extraordinarily difficult, yet progress has been made, which has begun to give us important clues about the welfare impact of killing techniques for the most commonly used lab species (rats, mice and zebrafish). In many cases it appears that some of the most commonly used methods do not appear to be humane and therefore I argue that they should be included as harms in the harm/benefit analysis which should be performed before the decision is made to use animals.

I will also argue that more research is needed, both to better understand the welfare impacts of current killing methods and, most importantly, to develop methods that are genuinely humane.

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