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Berkeleyan

Campus animal-care program earns three-year accreditation
Half a dozen campus units cooperate to ensure program's success

| 04 April 2007

Calling Berkeley's animal-care and -use program "exemplary," the international organization that inspects and accredits facilities that use animals in research has given the campus another gold star.

In a letter sent last week to Vice Chancellor for Research Beth Burnside, Dale Martin, president of the Council on Accreditation of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC), commended the campus for "providing and maintaining an exemplary program of laboratory-animal care and use."

Based on an inspection of all the campus's animal-care and -use facilities on Oct. 2 and 3, 2006, AAALAC awarded the campus another three-year period of full accreditation, the fifth gold star for Berkeley since it received its first full accreditation in 1994.

"This is a triumph that is hard-earned and well-deserved," says Burnside, adding that the animal care and use program "is a masterpiece of teamwork and a model for all of us on the campus to emulate."

"Our campus prides itself in being 'first' or 'top-rated' in many categories, and we can add the quality of our animal-care and -use program to that list," says Richard Van Sluyters, professor of optometry and chair of the campus Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC), which approves all proposed uses of animals in scientific research and instruction.

Veterinarian Helen Diggs, director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC), credits a 20-year effort to upgrade facilities and improve animal care on the UC Berkeley campus.

"Over the past two decades there has been an effort on the part of all the players who have a role in [animal care and use] to improve the program," Diggs says. "The program keeps getting better, and this last review outcome was truly superlative."

Van Sluyters served for 12 years as a member of AAALAC's Council on Accreditation, and Diggs has just been elected a member. Both have extensive experience evaluating the quality of animal-care and -use programs at other institutions, and each noted the unusually high level of praise AAALAC heaped upon Berkeley following its most recent site visit. In its laudatory letter, AAALAC commended everything from ACUC's staff and committee members to the veterinary and administrative staff and the sanitation and facilities maintenance employees.

According to Diggs, what AAALAC liked "was the obvious team approach and involvement of all the services and departments that make this program work: Environment Health and Safety, University Health Service's Occupational Health office, Physical Plant-Campus Services, the UC Police Department, ACUC, OLAC, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research."

"We are all here to make sure the animals are cared for properly and humanely," she says, "and the fact that AAALAC found us exemplary is a huge kudo for the Berkeley campus."