Auckland University win animal welfare award

29 August 2013

A collaboration of University of Auckland departments has been recognised for its significant contribution to reducing and refining the way animals are used for scientific research worldwide.

The group has received the 2013 National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Three Rs award, sponsored by the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

The Circulatory Control Laboratory from the Department of Physiology and the Auckland Bioengineering Institute’s Implantable Devices Group won the award for their development and validation of a number of wireless physiological monitoring tools, says NAEAC chairperson Dr Virginia Williams.

“The concept of the Three Rs is to replace live animal subjects, reduce the number of animals used and refine experimental techniques to minimise pain and distress. The team’s work demonstrates two of these principles.

The impressive technology developed in New Zealand enables refinements through reduced need for handling the animals, and reductions in animal usage worldwide. Use of animals in science is only acceptable if all efforts are made to minimise harm or suffering,” says Dr Williams.

The team’s telemetry devices allow remote and continuous monitoring of signals such as blood pressure and heart activity. In addition to use in the team’s own research work, the technology has been commercialized through Millar Instruments and exported to more than 30 countries.

It is now used in some of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies.

The national award is co-ordinated by NAEAC and is made annually to an individual, group or institution within New Zealand that epitomises best practice with regard to the Three Rs.

NAEAC Deputy Chair Professor Martin Kennedy presented the award to team member Dr Sarah-Jane Guild at a function last night.