FEB 03, 2016 06:00 AM PST

Creating the Right Animal Program to Facilitate Quality Animal Studies. The AAALAC International Perspective

  • Senior Director and Director of European Activities, AAALAC International
      He obtained his veterinary medicine degree at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) in 1990, and was for 17 years Director of the Laboratory Animal Services at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. In parallel, between 2003 and 2008 he was also a member of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC International) Council on Accreditation. He is member of the Ethics Committee of the University of Navarra since its creation in 1997 (now as external member).

      Current position
      In 2008 he joined AAALAC International Senior Director and Director of European Activities. Since 2013 he is Senior Director for Europe and Latin America.

      Other related activities
      He served first as Secretary (2002-2008) and later as President (2009-2010) of the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA).

      Since 2011 he is member of the ICLAS Governing Board

      Since 2010 he is representative of the Spanish Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SECAL) to the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS).

      Since 2010 he is member of the Council of Management of the journal Laboratory Animals Ltd. and since 2011, member of the Executive Committee.

      He is Past-President of SECAL, the Spanish Assocation for Laboratory Animal Science.


    Quality animal research is based on quality animal care and use. This is achieved by coordinating several key personnel and activities, and implementing appropriate animal care and use procedures. Areas to be covered include institutional responsibilities in terms of personnel (resources and training); occupational health and safety; oversight and ethical review process; animal environment, housing and management; veterinary care; and physical plant. All these components together will be the institutional animal care and use program. The first thing to do to implement the right animal program is to review in a systematic manner all components of the program currently in place and identify potential gaps. The AAALAC International Program Description template, freely available from the AAALAC website (http://www.aaalac.org/programdesc/index.cfm) provides a very simple and useful self-evaluation tool to do this, as it encompasses all necessary animal program areas. Once gaps are identified, a scheduled plan for corrective actions can be established. But achieving the right animal program cannot be a single person task. Cooperation from and coordination with several others in the institution is needed: management; animal care personnel; IACUC or equivalent oversight body (ethics committee, animal welfare body…); research team; health and safety personnel; maintenance service; or quality assurance unit (if existing). That will be the key to success.
    Examples of typical findings on all different program areas identified during AAALAC site visits will be described, along with the expectations AAALAC has for those same areas. Quality animal studies depend on quality animal care and use, which can be only achieved by a systematic self-evaluation and implementation process.

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