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About ACLAM Diplomates
ACLAM Diplomates are involved in a wide variety of activities, including management and direction of animal resource facilities and programs; clinical medicine, surgery, and programs of disease prevention; consultation on the care and use of laboratory animals; assisting institutions in achieving compliance with animal care and use regulations; collaborative and independent research; and instruction and training. The roles filled by ACLAM Diplomates in these activities are described below.
While Diplomates typically serve many of these roles, they certainly cannot be an expert in all of them. Also, the responsibilities of an individual Diplomate depend on the interests and abilities of that person and the requirements of his or her employer. Institutions with smaller research programs may find that a single Diplomate or a part-time consultant meets their needs. In larger institutions, several persons with varied interests and abilities are needed to serve all the required functions. Many such institutions employ a team of ACLAM Diplomates and other scientists to achieve full-service animal resource units or comparative medicine departments which can then meet all the missions of service, research, and teaching.
Animal Resource Management
The background, training, and special knowledge of ACLAM Diplomates make them well suited to be directors of institutional animal resource programs. In this role, they determine and implement policies to ensure the physical and social environment, nutrition, housing, microbiological control, sanitary standards, breeding programs, genetic control, and overall care necessary to provide the other scientists of the institution with reliable and consistent laboratory animals. As directors of animal resource facilities, they make basic decisions regarding fiscal and personnel management; however, details of these management operations may be delegated to subordinates. ACLAM Diplomates possess knowledge that is valuable in facility design and devising programs for the control of biological, chemical, and radiologic hazards used in laboratory animals and developing occupational safety and health programs for personnel who work with laboratory animals.
Providing Adequate Veterinary Care
A primary role served by ACLAM Diplomates is the provision of adequate veterinary care. Federal animal welfare laws and policies mandate such programs. The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine has defined adequate veterinary care to include: a) disease detection and surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and resolution; b) guidance to animal users and monitoring animal use to assure that appropriate methods of handling and restraint are being used, and to ensure proper use of anesthetics, analgesics, tranquilizers, and methods of euthanasia; c) guidance, review, and approval of all preoperative, surgical, and postoperative procedures; d) the promotion and monitoring of animal well-being, including physical and psychological aspects of an animal's condition; and e) involvement in the review of animal use protocols. The provision of veterinary medical care prevents and alleviates the distress of disease in animals. Proper veterinary care also reduces animal disease related variables which could adversely affect biomedical research and testing.
Advising Other Scientists
ACLAM Diplomates are valued consultants to other scientists with regards to the care and use of laboratory animals. Diplomates are called on to give advice on the selection of animal models. They advise on sources, species and strains, and quality of animals for studies. They respond to questions about animal anatomy, physiology, and the influence of disease on research. They give advice and provide training to assist researchers in performing experimental techniques with animals. They advise on the use of anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizing drugs. They assist in investigations by providing advice or implementing surgical procedures and perioperative care. They also give advice on humane methods of euthanasia that meet study requirements.
Assistance in Achieving Regulatory Compliance
ACLAM Diplomates provide the expertise essential for an institution to meet federal laboratory animal care and use policies and regulations. Whereas it is the responsibility of an institution's administration to achieve compliance, ACLAM Diplomates provide the required knowledge and skills to carry out a compliant animal care and use program. The Diplomate's expertise in the areas of adequate veterinary care, use of anesthetics and analgesics, surgery and perioperative care, the overall adequacy of animal care and use, and the promotion of animal well-being is vital to the success of an institutional research program. Additionally, the laboratory animal veterinarian serves as a required member of the federally mandated Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and assists in the training of all individuals who participate in animal care and use.
Many ACLAM Diplomates engage in research and other scholarly activity. These activities can contribute significantly to the overall research and animal care program of an institution. The Diplomate may be a collaborating investigator bringing animal-related skills and knowledge to a research team, or may conduct independent research in his or her area of expertise.
Often, Diplomates are involved in research that is directed at improving the health and well-being of experimental animals. Such research may be on the cause, effects, and control of laboratory animal disease; the search for better methods to control pain and distress in animals; determination of optimum environments for animals; development of methods of improved animal husbandry and techniques for improving the psychological well-being of laboratory animals; the effects of environmental variables on research outcomes; or the action and efficacy of drugs on animals. Studies are also undertaken to develop or define specific animal models for conditions observed in humans. Another important area of study is the development of better research techniques used in animals. All of these studies are essential to advancing the quality of animal research. Such studies are logically carried out by ACLAM Diplomates as experts in comparative and laboratory animal medicine. Through the ACLAM Foundation, ACLAM provides funds to conduct research for improving laboratory animal science and welfare.
Teaching and Training
As laboratory animal experts, ACLAM Diplomates often teach and train others. This teaching may range from formal classroom instruction to informal training in a laboratory or animal facility setting. Just as the type of teaching can embrace a wide spectrum, so too can the categories of people instructed. Individuals may be fellow scientists, research technicians, or students who are learning techniques of animal experimentation or about the regulations and requirements of an animal care and use program; they may be animal technicians who are learning about the care and use of laboratory animals; or they may be veterinarians, veterinary students, or undergraduate students who are studying laboratory animal medicine, science or management.
Another aspect of teaching involves informing the public about the use of animals in research. Elected representatives, the media, and the general public need to be educated concerning the laws and regulations which protect research animals, the excellent care that is given to laboratory animals, and the great contribution animal research can make to the life, health, and well-being of humans and animals. Because of their expertise, Diplomates have credibility with the public and are, therefore, important members of the institution's public information team.