This news story was published in the Imperial News section of the Super Science issue (issue 28), as an important Imperial College story from the past few months.
The Concordat on Openness in Animal Research has been signed by 72 organisations including commercial companies, universities and charities. Imperial College has also signed.
Commitments of the concordat include clarity on the purpose of animal research, more communication about research undertaken, and a promise to be proactive on informing the public about using animals in research.
Professor Maggie Dallman, Chair of the newly created Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body, said: “My hope is that the Concordat will help organisations working in this area give their staff the confidence and support that they need.”
It comes in the wake of the action plan recently published by Imperial College with the aim of improving the welfare of animals used in research at the college. That plan followed allegations of “shortcomings and wrongdoing by staff and researchers” made by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).
An independent committee, led by Professor Steve Brown, published a report on Imperial College’s use of animals in research in December 2013 and, although the committee commended the college on the high standards of animal husbandry and care in some areas, it was slammed with Brown stating that “there needs to be significant improvement.”
Brown’s report highlighted an ‘ad hoc’ approach to competency assessment, supervision and training of staff in animal research laboratories. The action plan responded by including the recruitment of a Director for Bioservices to provide overall strategic leadership and direction, strengthening the application of replacement, reduction and refinement of animals in research (known as the 3Rs) and implementing more effective internal and external communication.
The action plan, along with the Concordat, will improve the accountability and transparency of the College’s approach to research on animals.
IMAGE: Linda Barlett