FEB 05, 2014 01:00 PM PST

Implementing a training program in a biomedical research institution: a European perspective

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  • Researcher, Group Leader, IBMC - Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, Laboratory Animals, EurSAFE - European Society for Food and Agricultural Ethics, Portugal
      Already as an undergraduate student in Animal Sciences, I realized that there was more to animal science than making cows give more milk. When graduating in 1994, I had settled for ethology and animal welfare as my professional habitat, which I haven't left since. Having completed my PhD in ethology, also at the Swedish University of Agricultural University, in 2001 I started my postdoc career by going against all recommendations, moving to work with something I had never worked with - laboratory rodent behaviour and welfare - in a place where nobody worked with this topic. This resulted in the establishment of the Laboratory Animal Science group at the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC) in Porto, Portugal, a research group I coordinate since 2005. What saved my academic sanity when changing topic, institution and country was largely the collaboration initiated in 2002 with Professor Peter Sandøe, Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment. This collaboration is now the basis for a productive line of empirical research into the ethics of animal research and technology, developed in parallel with the research into behaviour and welfare. Having learnt about the difficulties in breeding mice the hard way, I have a particular research interest in maternal behaviour and pup survival.


    Training for researchers using animals is a requirement in most European countries. However, somewhat surprisingly, the main actor in providing specific guidelines for such training is a scientific society - the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations. FELASA is also presently the only entity that accredits training courses on an international level. At the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, we have been running courses following the FELASA recommendations for Category C (scientists) since 2005. Since 2008, these courses have been run under accreditation. In this presentation, I will share our experience as course organizers, with focus on the implications and benefits of the accreditation program.

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