9 April 2009

The University of Queensland is seeking members of the public to be part of its animal ethics committees.

The positions are on a voluntary basis and members are responsible for ensuring the humane care of animals used for scientific purposes.

Professor Perry Bartlett, head of UQ’s Animal Ethics Committee, said having input from community members was vital to maintaining high standards of ethical research.

“The University takes its responsibilities with the ethical treatment of animals very seriously,” Professor Bartlett said.

“We highly value the input of people from the community who can bring an independent and unique voice to our work.”

Professor Bartlett, who is also the Director of the Queensland Brain Institute, said many scientific breakthroughs had been made possible through the use of animals for scientific purposes.

“In my own work, we have made enormous progress in understanding how the brain protects itself from disease and injury by using animal models in our research,” he said.

“This has led us to the stage where we may be able to, in the near future, provide new treatments for people with diseases such as ageing dementia.

“Animal studies were also integral to former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer’s ground breaking work that led to the development of a vaccine for cervical cancer.”

Volunteers are sought for two types of committee members:

Category C is a person with demonstrable commitment and experience in furthering the welfare of animals, who is not employed by or associated with the University and who is not involved in the care of animals for scientific purposes. Veterinarians and veterinary nurses with specific animal welfare interest and experience may meet the requirements of this category. While not representing an animal welfare organisation, the person should, where possible, be selected on the basis of active membership of, and nomination by, such an organisation.

Category D is a person independent of the University who has not conducted scientific or teaching activities using animals. They should be viewed by the wider community as bringing a completely independent view to the Committee.

Committee meetings are held once a month in the afternoon, with a working lunch supplied as well as a sitting fee and travelling expenses available.

For further information of to place an expression of interest contact Ann Higgins, Animal Welfare Unit Coordinator, on 3365 2713 or email a.higgins@research.uq.edu.au

Media: Professor Perry Bartlett (3346 6311) or Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).