FEB 04, 2015 12:00 PM PST

Standards and regulations for animal use in research: challenges and changes in a chilean university

  • Research Ethics Officer, Pontificia Universidad Catlica de Chile
      - Undergraduate studies BSc major Biology at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (1998)
      - Graduate Studies PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2004)
      - Postodctoral Training in Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US (2005-2008)
      - Master in Innovation at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2011-2013)
      - Diploma in Medical Education (2008)
      - Ongoing studies: MSc in Bioethics, The Bioethics Program, Union Graduate College and Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, USA (September 2014- )

      - Assistant Professor, School of Medicine at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2008- current)

      - Innovation Strategy Manager, School of Medicine Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (April 2012 - January 2014)

      - Animal Welfare Committee Member School of Medicine at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2008- 2014) and Chair of the Committee (September 2011- January 2014)

      Current position:
      - Research Ethics Officer at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (May 2013- )
      - Biosafety and Biosecurity Officer at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (May 2013- )

      - Consultancy in Research Ethics, Research Compliance, Biosafety and Biosecurity
      - Entrepreneurship: Hands-on-Science program and Good Practices. This is an educational program for high school students, where they can perform some experiments, get closer to and experience science in a different way and at the same time understand the responsibility of scientist in the implementation of good practices, in performing science in a safe way (biosafety), in avoiding misconduct such as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, etc.

      Main interest:
      - My Family that includes 3 kids, two dogs and a husband.


    In Chile, the regulatory context regarding animal use in research is very poor. A legal framework for Animal Care and Use Committees is practically nonexistent. Also, the chilean culture plays against the implementation of standards, usually chileans do not care about the implementation of regulations that are not being requested or audited by any authority. Only in 2005 the main governmental funding agency, Fondecyt, established an advisory board to oversight ethics protocols of the funded proposals and started to request that every grant application must have ethical review from a Research Ethics Committee, IRB or IACUC. But in Chile at that time there were not resources, instances or experienced people to help Research Ethics Committee members or researchers in the understanding of this new requirement. In the last seven years, this "landscape" started to change. Many Institutions started with the implementation of Research Ethics Committees and some of them started to really take care of the ethical elements to consider in reviewing a protocol. Only few of them have reached relatively good standards at their animal facilities and have hired trained personnel to manage and handle animals. However all these good news were due to particular and specific people that became aware and began to work hard in the implementation of good practices. On their own initiative, they began learning and looking for international experiences, in order to responsibly implement practices at their home institution. During this seminar I will present the major challenges and changes that these particular persons had to face in order to get support and resources to install good practices. This example might be helpful for other institutions because of the tools and strategies used to convince the authorities and get resources, and to sensitize researchers and make them understand the benefits of having an animal program and IACUC´s guidance.

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