Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) Annual Report 2009

Members: Jennifer J. Higa (Chair), Theresa A. Jones, Barbara Kaminski, Scott R. Robinson, 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 2009 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 DVD was mass-produced and was mailed to all member of the APA affiliate group Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) in the spring. The DVD has also been made available upon request.

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.

Mentoring young scientists. The Committee discussed plans for continuing the CARE Imprinting Awards (CIA) program in 2010 and beyond. The Committee is seeking funding of the program from several of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) including, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Neurological Diseases and Strokes (NINDS). The Committee will receive notification of whether its funding requests have been approved in early 2010. If the Committee succeeds in securing funding for the mentoring program, then a call for applications will be announced and awardees will be selected by late spring.

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. Due to the cancellation of the fall 2009 meetings the Committee will review and finalize the memo at its spring 2010 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. Each Committee member also submitted comments, which were collated by staff. The revised draft will be reviewed and finalized by the Committee at its March 2010 meeting.

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, Pamela Scott-Johnson, and Eric Wiertelak continued to serve on the Committee. Drs. Robert Lickliter, and James K. Rowlett completed their terms in 2008. New members joining CARE in 2009 were Drs. Barbara Kaminski and Scott Robinson. CARE elected Jennifer J. Higa to serve as the Chair of CARE in 2009.