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NC3Rs: National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research

Launch of NC3Rs-funded welfare assessment resource

27 January 2016
 A screenshot of the recognition and prevention of pain, suffering and distress in laboratory animals. It show a rat with the message body posture and markers

A new e-learning resource focusing on the assessment of laboratory animal welfare has been launched to help researchers and animal care staff to identify signs of good and poor welfare in research animals.

Created by Professor Paul Flecknell and his team at Newcastle University, with funding from the NC3Rs, it is the second scenario-based training module to be added to the FLAIRE Learning site. Recipients of an NC3Rs Infrastructure for Impact award in 2013, the group from Newcastle are developing a range of web-based tutorials on best practice in the refinement of animal experiments.

Featuring videos, annotated images and questionnaires, the module places the user in situations they may encounter in the laboratory, in order to improve and to test their understanding of how to recognise and prevent pain, suffering and distress in research animals. The realistic scenarios currently focus on rodents, however there is material on other commonly used species, such as zebrafish and rabbits. Information on severity classification and humane endpoints is also included.

This free resource can be used as a basic introduction to the topic, a refresher, or for more specific training necessary for continued professional development. It has been specifically designed to meet the learning objectives of EU Module ‘Recognition and prevention of pain, suffering and distress in laboratory animals’. The UK accrediting bodies (Society of Biology, Scottish Accreditation Board and Universities’ Training Group) support the use of the resource in accredited training courses for personal licence holders.

The first NC3Rs-funded e-learning module, on laboratory animal anaesthesia for minor procedures, can be accessed by following this link.

Versions of both modules that permit tracking of user completion are available at FLAIRE Learning.