Charles River Short Course

27 06 2015

Last week I spent five days in Boston again (well, a conference centre in Newton; I still have no real idea what Boston is like) at the Charles River Short Course – an extension meeting for animal techs and lab animal vets to get continuing education.

Most fun was spending time with Joe Garner, Cheryl Meehan, Brianna Gaskill (“Grannyyyyyyy!!!!”) and San Diego Zoo’s Greg Vicino. Joe and I are designing an experiment to see if ‘roughened’ enrichments (e.g. running wheels lined with sandpaper) would reduce nail length in mice, which in turn might reduce the harmful self-scratching that causes ulcerative dermatitis. So it was fun to plot about that. And Brianna has two students of her own now (both masters: Amy Robinson-Junker, looking at the effect of enrichment and tech disturbance on sleep [the project I wanted Elke to do!], and Megan LaFollette, studying rat tickling and the human-animal bond). That makes me a great-grandmother!

quad_isolator_250I also went on the facility tour this time. Interesting, but it mainly just made me sad. A warehouse-like room was full of isolators stacked floor to ceiling (almost Matrix-like), housing some 300 000 rodents. Bad enough seeing the tiny cages with negligible enrichment, but all made much worse knowing what a very flawed process science is.