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The genesis of organized laboratory animal medicine resulted from the marked increase in biomedical research following World War II. Prior to this time the scope of research did not require significant institutional involvement in the care of animals. Most often, research projects were autonomous and controlled by the investigator receiving the funding. Animal rooms were scattered through various divisions and departments. Most of these rooms were primitive by today’s standards. Graduate students or research technicians were assigned to care for animals secondary to their principal duties. With the increase in research this pattern gradually began to change. Institutions recognized their responsibility to provide for adequate laboratory animal care. Animal care and use programs were centralized and institutions made professional appointments to cope with this responsibility. Veterinarians became involved in overseeing these programs because of their knowledge of husbandry and disease of animals and interest in their well-being.

In 1946 Dr. Nathan R. Brewer of the University of Chicago and Dr. Arthur Rosenberg of Northwestern University presented an exhibit at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting in Boston featuring problems related to the pre- and post-operative care of dogs used in experimental gastrointestinal surgery. This stimulated interest of several other veterinarians becoming involved in laboratory animal medicine. By 1949 five Chicago area institutions had veterinarians responsible for laboratory animal medicine in their institutions. They were Drs. N.R. Brewer, University of Chicago; Elihu Bond, University of Illinois; Bennett Cohen, Northwestern University; Robert Flynn, Argonne National Laboratory; and Robert Schroeder, Hektoin Institute. These men began meeting once a month to discuss animal care problems. There was recognition for the need of more information about their work. For this reason they believed that other institutions and individuals around the country would be interested in meeting to exchange information pertaining to the care of laboratory animals. A forum or panel was planned and invitations signed by the five Chicago veterinarians were sent. On November 28, 1950 a group of 75 workers interested in the care and management of laboratory animals met at the University of Chicago. A business meeting was held after the program and the Animal Care Panel (ACP) was organized. The ACP grew and in 1967 the name was changed to the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

Although veterinarians were prominent in the genesis of the ACP the decision was made that the organization should include technicians and scientists from other disciplines. There was still a desire for an organization limited to veterinarians specialized in laboratory animal medicine. It took several years for such an organization to come to fruition. However, under Dr. Brewer’s leadership the American Board of Laboratory Animal Medicine was incorporated in Illinois on February 18, 1957. The incorporating members were---Nathan R. Brewer, Benjamin D. Fremming, Robert J. Flynn, Melvin M. Rabstein, Jules S. Cass, Robert D. Henthorne, Bennett J. Cohen, Robert J. Veenstra and Robert J. Young. Following incorporation, approval was sought and obtained from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for a new specialty board. The goals of the organization, now named the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), remain the same today as first stated in 1958: To encourage education, training and research in laboratory animal medicine; to establish standards of training and experience for qualification of specialists in laboratory animal medicine; and to further the recognition of such qualified specialists by suitable certification and other means.

The first members were Charter Fellows (grandfathers) who met at the organizational meeting in 1958. These Charter Fellows were veterinarians of established reputations who were engaged in laboratory animal medicine. Several additional Fellows of comparable training and experience were elected to the Board. Criteria of at least an M.S. degree, 5 years experience in laboratory animal medicine, and a distinct contribution to laboratory animal medicine were established to be eligible to take the certifying examination to become Fellows. In addition to the Fellowship category of membership Associate Membership was open to veterinarians who had at least 3 years experience in laboratory animal medicine.