To: All UBC faculty, staff and students
From: Dr. John Hepburn, Vice President, Research and International
At his September 2011 Vancouver campus town hall meeting in Vancouver, UBC President Stephen Toope addressed the issue of animal research, reiterating the University’s commitment to the highest standards in humane animal care, and stating UBC is striving for greater transparency in this area.
After consultations and careful consideration, we are releasing today information on the categories of species and number of animals involved in research at UBC. This is a significant step for us, and one worth taking. We believe making this information available will help inform the ongoing public dialogue on this sensitive issue. I encourage you to view the information in context, as presented on our website.
A key priority for UBC remains the intellectual property rights of our researchers and the integrity of our research. Therefore, we will not be releasing valuable research information, especially information relating to projects that are underway and the results of which have not been published, because doing so could discourage research that benefits society as a whole. In addition, UBC will continue to be vigilant to protect the privacy and safety of our researchers and the security of our research facilities. Therefore, we will not identify the people who are conducting animal research.
In my email to you on this issue a year ago, I outlined why animal research remains an important methodology for our scientists. UBC encourages the development of research methods that will reduce, refine and replace the use of animals. But in many cases, we simply must work with animals to answer critical questions – and when we do, we are held accountable through a number of rigorous processes.
All research involving animals is subject to stringent ethics reviews, including those from the University’s Animal Care Committee. In addition, UBC follows the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), has spent considerable funds upgrading facilities to ensure best practices in humane animal handling, and submits to CCAC inspection of our facilities. Ultimately, research involving animal protocols is published in peer-reviewed academic journals.
I invite all of you to support an open and respectful academic dialogue on this important question – one that is central to our ability to conduct responsible research. As members of UBC, we need to think critically, and speak out, about what is important and necessary for human progress and the welfare of our society. We all want answers to the most threatening afflictions, while protecting sentient beings from needless pain.
Details of today’s information release are on UBC’s Animal Research website: www.animalresearch.ubc.ca.
Dr. John Hepburn
Vice President, Research and International