Washington State University (WSU) is a major land-grant research university dedicated to advancing, extending, and applying knowledge and serving the citizens of WA State. Discoveries made at WSU save and improve the lives of animals and humans alike. They also safeguard the environment. The research behind these discoveries sometimes involves animals. Animal-based research comes with the responsibility to provide animals with the highest level of ethical and humane care. I am the WSU institutional official responsible for oversight of WSU animal programs, and take that responsibility very seriously.
The key to maintaining an effective and humane animal program is continuous improvement aimed at providing the best possible support to our dedicated faculty and staff who work with animals every day. Since coming to WSU in July 2014, I have worked with colleagues across the university to improve the effectiveness of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Office of the Campus Veterinarian, and the Office of Research Assurances, the three organizations that support faculty and staff working with animals. We have added staff to these organizations and improved the approval and oversight processes for activities involving animals. These changes enhance our faculty and staff’s ability to conduct animal work effectively, humanely, and in full compliance with all applicable federal and other laws and regulations.
But we have not stopped there. In 2016, WSU engaged two external groups to review our animal care efforts. External peer review, a best practice in the research community, is a proven method of identifying areas of improvement and bringing in new ideas. The reports from these reviews are located on the WSU animal program site. These reviews contain numerous useful recommendations and give us an excellent “roadmap” for improving the WSU animal care program over the next few years. We are in process of examining and appropriately implementing these recommendations within one to two years.
The Office of Research is dedicated to continuous improvement of all aspects of WSU’s Animal Care and Use program, and conducting the critical research that will save animal and human lives and improve our environment.