Friday, December 8, 2023

Massey team scoops animal welfare award

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Recognition for helping to reduce animal involvement in research and teaching.
Neal Ward receives the Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield 3Rs Award from Professor Nat Waran.
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Developed a database that acts as a communication tool for researchers to improve animal welfare has landed a Massey University team a national award.

The team, comprising Neil Ward and his colleagues, is the recipient of the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield 3Rs Award in recognition for providing a platform that fosters collaboration, and that can reduce animal involvement in research, testing and teaching.

The award was jointly presented by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) and the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART).

“The concept of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, and refinement) is to improve animal welfare and replace and reduce live animals where possible, refine study design, handling, and housing of animals to improve life experiences,” NAEAC chair Professor Nat Waran said.

The Palmerston North-based team within the Tāwharau Ora School of Veterinary Science, and Information Technology Services demonstrated their commitment to the 3Rs through their development of a web-based database application to enable teachers and researchers to share samples for use in research, testing and teaching.

The web page acts as a communication tool that facilitates connection between researchers within Massey. 

While the tool is currently only available for Massey University staff, Ward hopes to complete the process to open the platform to all users in NZ.

“The purpose of the site is to provide a communication portal to link donors of samples with requesters who may wish to make use of suitable material,” Ward said.

Teachers and researchers can join the community on the website and subsequently post surplus samples available at the end of their project, or search for other donors to make a request to share. “Through this database, we hoped to develop a practical and easy to use solution that aligns with the 3R principles,” Ward said.

This is the second time Ward and his team have won the award, and they are the sixth Massey recipient since 2003.

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