Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE): 2008 Annual Report

MEMBERS: JAMES K. ROWLETT (CHAIR), JENNIFER J. HIGA, THERESA A. JONES, ROBERT LICKLITER, PAMELA SCOTT-JOHNSON, ERIC P. WIERTELAK, SANGEETA PANICKER (APA STAFF LIAISON).

In pursuit of its mission of safeguarding and promoting ethically and scientifically sound research and teaching involving nonhuman animals in psychological science, the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics’ (CARE) focus in 2008 was on education, outreach, and policy. These general goals were advanced in a number of ways that built on previous years’ progress.

Educational and Informational Programs to Advance Understanding and Foster Interest in the Use of Animals in Teaching and Research in Psychology

CARE video series. Staff updated the Committee on the status of the multi-part video series project on the importance of animal research in psychology. The Committee viewed final drafts of videos on the importance of touch in attachment formation and aggressive behaviors and recovery of function. The Committee also reviewed final drafts of study guides that accompany the videos. The DVD was mass-produced and will be mailed to all member of the APA affiliate group Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) in the spring.

Support of Nonhuman Animal Research and Scientists who Work with Laboratory Animals

Outreach. CARE discussed mechanisms for connecting with the behavioral and cognitive neuroscience community who are not involved with APA. The goal of outreach is to inform neuroscientists about APA efforts in supporting nonhuman animal research. To this end, the Committee nominated member Eric Wiertelak to serve as the APA representative to the Society for Neuroscience for a three-year term (2008-2010). The nomination was forwarded to the BSA for approval.

Research Ethics Education Workshops. The Committee was informed that due to budgetary constraints the collaborative initiative with the BSA Ad Hoc Committee to Advance Responsible Research (CARR) to sponsor an annual summer institute on the responsible conduct of research is being tabled indefinitely.

Mentoring young scientists. The Committee discussed plans for continuing the CARE Imprinting Awards (CIA) program in 2009 and beyond. The Committee requested partial funding of the program from the APA Science Directorate, and Staff worked with David Shurtleff, Director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to obtain funding support from other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes. The Committee posted a call for applications mid-October 2008, and will select finalists at the 2009 spring meeting.

Proposed amendment to APA Bylaw Article I.1. In response to the request for input from the Committee on the APA strategic planning process, CARE discussed APA’s mission statement. On reviewing statement, CARE was struck by the explicit omission of any mention of animals other than humans. CARE strongly believes that psychology contributes to the welfare of not only humans but other animals too. CARE recommended that APA amend Bylaw Article I.1. The Committee drafted a rationale for the amendment, which was circulated among CARE members via e-mail and will be finalized prior its spring 2009 meeting.

Policy and Regulation

Revision of CARE Guidelines. In preparation for a revision of the CARE Guidelines for ethical conduct in the care and use of animals (1996), notices about the revision were posted in the APA Monitor on Psychology, the Science Directorate newsletter and its web-site to solicit comments from the APA membership. Committee members reviewed the Guidelines and will monitor the progress of the revision of the National Research Council Guide for the Care and Use of Animals (The Guide), to ensure that changes to The Guide are reflected in the revised APA Guidelines.

Future Plans and Development of New Initiatives

CARE generated a list of potential initiatives for the Committee and began to prioritize them. The short list includes:

  • Devote more time and effort over the next five years to raising awareness about and the profile of nonhuman animal research in psychology.

  • Solicitation of ideas from divisions for additional ways in which to make the field more diverse, welcoming, and supportive.

  • Work on the problem of computer-simulations as replacements for live animal demonstrations as teaching tools. One idea is to create an informational document that points out the shortcomings of using computer-simulations in lieu of live animal demonstrations for teaching.

Membership Changes

Jennifer J. Higa, Theresa A. Jones, Robert Lickliter, and James K. Rowlett, Pamela Scott-Johnson continued to serve on the Committee. Dr. Steven Dworkin completed his term in 2007. Dr. Theresa A. Jones completed former CARE member Mary Meagher’s term at the end of 2007 and began a full three year term starting in 2008. Also joining CARE in 2008 was Dr. Eric Wiertelak. CARE elected James Rowlett to serve as the Chair of CARE in 2008.