The 4th annual Massachusetts Society for Medical Research Enrichment Symposium, “All Creatures Big and Small” was held in Boston as an all-day event on March 23, 2012. The symposium boasted over 220 attendees and 14 vendor exhibitors!
Paul McKellips, Executive Vice President for the Foundation for Biomedical Research, kicked off the one-day event with a dynamic talk on the importance and necessity of animal research and the increased approval rating it is gaining among the public. He also spoke candidly about the criticisms surrounding animal research from various groups and showed video and noted the danger that research facilities and personnel have encountered by being in this profession.
Christian Lawrence, Aquatic Resources Program Manager from Children’s Hospital presented on Using Data on Natural History and Behavior to Build Better Management Strategies for Laboratory Zebra Fish. He stressed the importance of understanding natural behaviors and environments and applying them to the lab setting and presented examples and data showing improvements in behavior and breeding when incorporating changes representing their natural habitat.
Kimberly Wasko, from Drexel University College of Medicine transformed rabbit enrichment to a whole new level. She showed video and pictures of rabbit exercise pens, playgroups, and super-enriched housing.
Brianna Gaskill, Postdoctoral Research Scientist from Charles River Laboratories spoke in two separate sessions on mice and rat enrichment. Natalie Bratcher, the 3Rs Scientist and Alternatives Coordinator from Abbot Laboratories gave an inspiring talk on Abbott’s canine program. It focuses heavily on staff engagement and animal welfare.
The speakers rounded out with Jamie Wells, Animal Husbandry Supervisor from Tufts University, speaking on pig enrichment (“Are Your Pigs Happy?”) and Evelyn Skoumbourdis, Veterinary Technician who traveled to the Symposium from Thomas Jefferson University, offering ideas for seemingly “Unenrichable” non-human primates.
The event was another huge success and as always we would like to give a special thanks to our vendors for their continued support and fantastic raffle prizes.