UBC Alumni are Making Animals in Science Count: Launch of New National Institute

How many animals are used in science in Canada each year and for what?

Good question! The answer = we don’t really know.

And that is why two UBC Alumni, Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy and Dr. Sara Dubois have formed a new national non-profit organization, The Animals in Science Policy Institute.

The Animals in Science Policy Institute will fill a greatly needed role as the only national animal welfare organization in Canada dedicated solely to reforming the way animals are used in research, teaching and testing. “It’s been a long time coming,” says Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy, Executive Director of the new institute. “Organizations advocating on behalf of research animals have existed for decades in other countries, so I’m delighted that there is now a Canadian equivalent.”

Nearly three million animals are used for scientific purposes, including research, testing and teaching, annually in Canada at publicly funded institutions. Animal experiments at public institutions (like universities) are overseen by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), which is governed by a board of directors comprised primarily of animal researchers themselves. “The Canadian Council on Animal Care plays an important role for animal research,” explains Dr. Norm Willis (DVM PhD CM), former CCAC Executive Director, who has volunteered to serve as an Advisor to AiSPI, “but presenting an independent voice on behalf of animals in science will be crucial to promote accountability and respect for animals in the Canadian system.”

Also relevant is that many more animals go uncounted or ungoverned – including those used as breeding animals at public institutions; any animals in private research companies who are not required to be CCAC members; and, any animals bought and used for dissections in high school or university. Given there is no required tracking for these numbers, the estimates of actual animals sacrificed for science are impossible to guess.

The Animals in Science Policy Institute was founded as a non-profit in July 2015 in Vancouver and has since been refining the organization’s mandate, recruiting Advisors, and developing a website (www.animalsinscience.org). This week the organization will celebrate with an official launch event. The organization’s mission is to take an evidence-based approach to promote alternatives to animals in research, testing and teaching. Their first project, funded by Lush Cosmetics, will focus on implementing non-animal alternatives to high school dissection.

This project follows on from a recent project, conducted by Dr. Ormandy (AiSPI Executive Director) and Dr. Dubois (AiSPI Board President) pre-AiSPI conception, which focused on non-animal alternatives for science education at the University of British Columbia. UBC science student, Hannah Reed, who is in the pre-veterinary science program was delighted to learn about non-animal alternatives for education: “As a pre-veterinary student, having to use animals for dissection in order to pursue a career in caring for them is a bit ironic. It would be great if undergraduates were aware that there are non-animal alternatives available, and that you won’t jeopardize your grade by using them.”

Follow AiSPI on Facebook (www.facebook.com/animalsinscience) and on Twitter (@aisp_institute), or sign up for the newsletter on the AiSPI website: www.animalsinscience.org

For more information:

AiSPI Executive Director – Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy   778-928-5370 elisabeth@animalsinscience.org

 

 

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