Promoting animal welfare in research
Written By: Gilbert A. Bouchard
2000-10-24A professor looking for ways to improve the handling of alternative livestock and a technician who takes care of hundreds of laboratory mice are winners of this year's Louis D. Hyndman Sr. Awards.
Dr. Robert Hudson, professor of renewable resources, was recognized for his work developing codes of handling for domestically raised wildlife. Elaine Moase, the technician who manages the day-to-day research for Dr. Theresa Allen's laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology, was also honoured.
Given the central role they play in the University of Alberta's research success, it's critical animals be treated with the highest standards of welfare, said Vice-President (Research) Roger Smith at the presentation of the awards Oct. 23.
"The Hyndman Award recognizes these high standards of animal welfare and underlines the on-going role of education in the continuation of these standards," said Smith.
Established in 1994 by the Animal Policy and Welfare Committee, the Hyndman Awards are presented annually to a primary researcher and a technician for significant contributions to the welfare of animals used in university research and teaching.
Hudson, also associate dean of academic programs, said he's watched the alternative livestock industry--which domesticates bison, elk and deer--mature considerably since beginning his research at the U of A in 1974. "It's rewarding to see the industry continually improve conditions for animals co-oped into this world (domestication)."
Hudson's key area of research involves discovering new methods of accessing and ranking stress in domesticated wildlife and developing new husbandry practices--such as less stressful, gradual weaning procedures--to reduce it. "In the past it was always assumed you had to wean abruptly--this is the big danger, that you assume too much and end up adopting (ineffective) practices before you realize it."
A veteran of eight years in Dr. Allen's lab, Moase is responsible for several hundred laboratory mice annually, used in several fields of medical research for the large, international research group (nine to 15 scientists).
"It's my job to make sure that everyone working with the animals has had adequate training, and I liaise closely with our animal services people (Health Science Laboratory Animal Services)," explains Moase. "Because we have so many researchers from all over the globe with a wide range of attitudes, it's very important we have respectful animal welfare regulations."
Sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President (Research), the Hyndman Awards and annual lectures--named for the father of Chancellor Emeritus Louis Hyndman--commemorate the senior Hyndman's life-long concern for animal welfare. The keynote speaker for the 2000 Hyndman lectures was Dr. David B. Morton, a leading British researcher who's served on numerous international committees involved in animal and human research.
Morton talked about the historical context of animal welfare research from the age of St. Thomas Aquinas to the present day. He also discussed the growing realization in the scientific community that more humane treatment of animals invariably leads to improved science.
"Good animal health and welfare lead to better science, less animals being needed for research and much better economic value," said Morton.
This article originally appeared in ExpressNews.