New research titled Invertebrate Research Without Ethical or Regulatory Oversight Reduces Public Confidence and Trust, was recently published in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. These results, provide the first evidence that the public believe invertebrates should receive some level of oversight if used for scientific experiments. The gap that exists between current and public expectations for the oversight of invertebrates may threaten the social licence to conduct scientific research on these animals. Click for full article
A presentation of some of my PhD research from the 2022 Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science symposium.
A publication by Michael Brunt and Dan Weary, titled Public Consultation in the Evaluation of Animal Research Protocols, was recently published in PLoS ONE. The aim of this study was to assess the potential for public feedback on animal research protocols Click below for full story…
Recent presentation of some of my research at the 2021 symposium of the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science. Link to the publication here
Brunt MW, Améndola L, Weary DM (2021) Attitudes of laboratory animal professionals and researchers towards carbon dioxide euthanasia for rodents and perceived barriers to change. Laboratory Animals. July 2021. doi:10.1177/00236772211025166
Abstract – Evidence indicates that carbon dioxide (CO2) induces negative affective states (including anxiety, fear and distress) in laboratory rodents, but many countries still accept it for euthanasia. Alternative methods (e.g. inhalant anaesthetic) may represent a refinement over CO2 but are not widely adopted. We conducted an online survey of Canadian and European laboratory animal professionals and researchers (n¼592) to assess their attitudes towards the use of CO2 and alternative methods for rodent euthanasia using quantitative 7-point scale (from 1 (¼ strongly oppose) to 7 (¼ strongly favour) and qualitative (open-ended text) responses. CO2 was identified as the most common method used to kill rodents, and attitudes towards this method were variable and on average ambivalent (meanSD score on our 7-point scale was 4.41.46). Qualitative analysis revealed four themes relating to participant attitude: (a) the animal’s experience during gas exposure; (b) practical considerations for humans; (c) compromise between the animal’s experience and practical considerations; and (d) technical description of the procedure or policies. Many participants (51%) felt that there were alternatives available that could be considered an improvement over CO2, but perceived barriers to implementing these refinements. Qualitative analysis of these responses revealed five themes: (a) financial constraints; (b) institutional culture; (c) regulatory constraints; (d) research constraints; and (e) safety concerns. In conclusion, concerns regarding the use of CO2 often focused on the animal’s experience, but barriers to alternatives related to operational limitations. New research is now required on to how best to overcome these barriers.
Brunt MW, Weary DM (2021) Perceptions of laboratory animal facility managers regarding institutional transparency. PLoS ONE 16(7):e0254279. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254279
Abstract – Institutions that conduct animal research are often obliged to release some information under various legal or regulatory frameworks. However, within an institution, perspectives on sharing information with the broader public are not well documented. Inside animal facilities, managers exist at the interface between the people who conduct animal research and those charged with providing care for those animals. Their perception of transparency may influence their interpretation of the institutional culture of transparency and may also influence others who use these facilities. The objective of our study was to describe perceptions of transparency among animal research facility managers (all working within the same ethical oversight program), and how these perceptions influenced their experiences. Semistructured, open-ended interviews were used to describe perceptions and experiences of 12 facility managers relating to animal research transparency. Four themes emerged from the participant interviews: 1) communication strategies, 2) impact on participant, 3) expectations of transparency, and 4) institutional policies. Similarities and differences regarding perceptions of transparency existed among participants, with notable differences between participants working at university versus hospital campuses. These results illustrate differences in perceptions of transparency within one institutional animal care and use program. We conclude that institutions, regulators and the public should not assume a uniform interpretation of a culture of transparency among managers, and that sustained communication efforts are required to support managers and to allow them to develop shared perspectives.
The video below is research I recently presented at Humanely Ending the Life of Animals symposium. My colleagues Drs. @luciamendola, Dan Weary and I examined the attitudes of lab animal professionals and researchers towards CO2 euthanasia for rodents, and described the barriers to its refinement. Link to the publication here
Meaningful dialogue with mainstream society about the limits and context in which animal use can occur requires some degree of openness regarding the details of this use, including which animals are used, how they are cared for, and what quality of life they are likely to experience. More information on my research…
Melina Gillies is a friend that greatly encouraged me to embark upon a literary exploration of self understanding which culminated in my blogs. It was my primary therapeutic outlet exposing my honest self. At times funny, exciting and even down right dark while writing my truth. Each piece was exactly what I needed to express in those moments. She wrote to me this week and said only, “I miss your blogs.” It has been nearly 10 weeks since I published my last real reflection. After nine months of intimate weekly glimpses into my thoughts, some of my readers felt it was a harsh break-up.