The European Animal Research Association (EARA), of which ECLAM is a member, is trying to formulate briefing materials for national governments and the EU Commission, to ensure that essential research and international collaboration can continue during the current pandemic.
EARA is requesting that ECLAM forward responses from our members on the following 5 areas in which problems may be inhibiting research. They require detailed responses with anecdotal evidence. If your information must be kept anonymous due to commercial sensitivity, ECLAM (and EARA) will anonymise the information before relaying it to relevant authorities.
You do not need to respond to all 5 questions if they are not important for you. Please email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will assemble them into a single document to be sent to EARA’s executive director, Kirk Leech.
Problems transporting (both sending and receiving) research animals.
Problems receiving essential materials such as feed, caging and supplies, to keep your facilities open and operational.
Problems maintaining sufficient numbers of key workers in place, including animal care staff, researchers, vets and any others.
Animal welfare concerns arising linked to any of the above points.
Areas of research that will not be able to continue without urgent financial assistance.
The following tips have been provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to follow strict hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.
Designate your workplace as a temporary NO HANDSHAKE ZONE. Ask colleagues and clients to refrain from shaking hands (fist bumps or forearm bumps are good substitutes).
Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; and between contacts with others.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with 60%-95% alcohol.
Place hand sanitiser, sanitising wipes, and tissues in all procedure rooms, meeting rooms, restrooms, break rooms, and other common areas.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth, then throw the tissue into the trash can.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of influenza (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath), and the current outbreak is occurring during a time of year when respiratory illnesses from influenza and other viruses, including other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, are highly prevalent. To prevent influenza and possible unnecessary evaluation for COVID-19, all persons more than 6 months old should receive an annual influenza vaccine. Vaccines are still available and effective in helping to prevent influenza.
Voluntary home isolation: If you are ill with symptoms of respiratory disease, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue, stay at home.It isrecommendedthat you remain at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (37.8 degrees C) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Take steps to prevent the spread of disease among veterinary personnel and to/from clients by following guidelines and procedures laid out in the US National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian’s Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel. While the primary focus of this resource is controlling the spread of pathogens between animals and veterinary personnel, many of its principles apply to infection control in general and following it is simply good practice.
Our colleague Anne-Dominique Degryse reports that she knows of some first-year veterinary students in France who are very interested in finding temporary placements in lab animal medicine. If you can help, please contact the Secretariat to be put in touch with Anne.
ECLAM will hold an election this spring for a new Council member. If you can spend an hour a month in a teleconference, plus one or two face-to-face meetings each year for two years, please consider this opportunity to expand your career and fulfil your commitment to serve the College. Contact the chair of the Nominations Committee for further information.
Want to share your experience, good or bad? We are welcome all feedback. Please contact us today.
Talk to Us
Our new website now has a live chat feature– whenever the Secretariat is online.
Record numbers of credentials applicants for 2020
ECLAM received a very positive response to the initiative to invite internationally-recognised experts to apply to sit the exams. Seven people are now being evaluated by the Credentials Committee, in addition to two residents who have completed their training. Evaluations will be completed by 31 March.
Dates of AGM and Oral/Practical Exams
The Annual General Meeting of ECLAM will be on 25 November 2020 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in conjunction with the SGV/ESLAV/ECLAM Annual Scientific Meeting. We plan to webcast the AGM to those who cannot attend in person. Tentative plans for a pre-meeting day dedicated to ECLAM residents are being considered, so please plan to be in Lausanne on the 23rd November.
The oral/practical examinations will be held at the University of Lund for the second year. The dates will be 16-17 November 2020. If there are more candidates than can be examined in those two days, the time will be extended, with an aim to have each of the candidates complete their exams on one of the days. Dates for the written examinations have not been finalised yet, and they may not be in Glasgow this year due to an unexpected schedule conflict.
We are wholly dependent on our Diplomates to build the College and fulfil our mission. ECLAM will hold an electronic election for a new Council member this spring. The initial term is 2 years, renewable twice. Council members attend monthly teleconferences and one or two face-to-face meetings per year. Any Diplomate, whether active, non-certified or retired, is encouraged to consider this opportunity to serve the College and gain leadership experience.
Contact the Nominations Committee Chair, Thea Fleischmann, if you are interested– or know of a colleague who may be willing but is too shy to self-nominate!
Networking Groups now building
We have been using Groups.io as a way to work on projects together for a couple of years. A Group is a private forum where members can discuss ideas, meet other people, share files and a calendar, and even build a wiki. Council, the website development team, the Examination Committee, those preparing for the next year’s exams, and the Diplomates groups are up and running. Residents are encouraged to join the Residents group, as are members of the Training Committee and the Credentials Committee. Please consider signing up for a group and start to network with your colleagues!
NC3Rs International Prize
The application deadline for the 2020 prize is 6 March. This prize recognises a paper published in the last 3 years which potentially has major impact on the 3Rs. The award includes a grant for £28000 plus a personal award of £2000. For more information, go to the website or send an email to 3Rsprize@nc3rs.org.uk.
2020 membership invoices
ECLAM is using a new accounting system, so the invoices are coming out a bit late this year. You will soon receive an email from <email@example.com> with the subject line ‘Invoice INV-XXXX from ECLAM’. Initial tests have gone smoothly; you can click on the link in the email to go to Xero and pay by SEPA, PayPal or credit card. If you have any problems or questions, contact the Secretariat.
Walter Plowright was widely regarded as one of the world’s most eminent veterinary virologists and authorities on rinderpest, whose development of a tissue culture vaccine represented a key milestone in efforts to control the disease – one of only two infectious diseases that have been fully eradicated.
The prize recipient will receive £75,000, to be used to support research or other improvement activity that contributes to the control, management and eradication of infectious diseases in animals. For these purposes, the term ‘animal’ includes both domestic and free-living species – mammals, birds or fish.
This prize recognises an individual whose work has had a significant impact on the control, management and eradication of infectious diseases of animals. Their contribution will demonstrate animal, humanitarian or economic benefit.
The prize is open to any veterinary surgeon, veterinary nurse or research scientist working in Europe or the Commonwealth. The nominee may be working in practice, academia, a research institute/organisation, industry, government or another relevant sector. Institutions and/or organisations are not eligible to receive the prize.
Individuals must be nominated by a third party – Individuals may not nominate themselves. Nominators must notify the nominee of their intention to submit and jointly complete the nomination form.
Nominations must be made using the nomination form below. Guidelines and instructions are also provided below. All sections of the form must be completed, in English, in order for nominations to be considered.
Each nomination must include:
a statement of recommendation
copies of the nominee’s key publications
the nominee’s full CV, including a full list of publications and relevant experience
a brief scientific citation
details of two professional referees
a document, outlining how the prize fund will be spent to support future research or other improvement activity plans
declarations by the nominee and nominator.
Guidelines and instructions on completing the nomination are provided below. Any enquiries or questions should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 20 7202 0721. Completed nominations must be submitted to email@example.com by 31st March 2020.
New people, new website, new decade: it must be January
There’s something about January. It’s the time to clean out, throw out, add new, and organise everything from kitchen drawers to national governments. For ECLAM, it’s the start of the 20th year since EBVS gave us provisional recognition as a speciality college.
We welcome eight new Diplomates to ECLAM, following the successful completion of their exams in November:
Eva Maria Amen, Roche Innovation Centre Basel, Switzerland
Corina Berset, University Hospital Zürich, Switzerland
Henri Bertrand, University of Cambridge, UK
Nora Denk, Roche Innovation Centre Basel, Switzerland
Mareike Kron, University Hospital Zürich, Switzerland
Elin Manell, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Ruth Williams, GlaxoSmithKline Research & Development, Stevenage, UK
Congratulations on the achievement! All our new Diplomates are settling into their new committee assignments, and will contribute significantly to the growth and development of ECLAM and lab animal medicine.
The ECLAM Council regrets the departure of Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga as President-elect, but she is focusing her considerable energy on evidence-based laboratory animal science. Stephan Zeiterhas taken her place, and will become President from 2021-22. Stephan has already served for four years on Council. His experience and enthusiasm for progress keep our Council moving forward and striving to do better.
In November, Merel received a royal decoration (Officier in the Orde van Oranje-Nassau) recognising the importance of her work for society. Her increased work responsibilities mean that she has had to refocus her attention and energy.
Our 2020 AGM will be held in November in Lausanne, so we will elect a new Ordinary Member in the coming months. The Nominations Committee has been formed (Chair Thea Fleischmann, Denis Lambrigts and Henri Bertrand). You will receive an email from them shortly asking you to consider who would be a good candidate for this opportunity. Self-nominations are welcome.
Our new website (eclam.eu) has been ‘live’ for a few months, and we are phasing out the old one as we create new pages. Keep checking back to see what new material is there to help you understand ECLAM and participate in the affairs of the College.
The new website is more interactive, and I am incorporating it into my way of assisting you. Having trouble understanding the workflow involved in your re-certification? I made a chart. Need to ask a colleague to complete a letter of reference? Here’s an online form. Want to have a way to meet other residents or Diplomates, download the new AVMA Guidelines, do committee work, or discuss starting a residency programme? Ask to join a Group. Wondering what learning opportunities are forthcoming, or when your next committee teleconference will be? Here’s the calendar. Looking for a new job, or have one open? Post it on our website.
We need your help to add new material, suggest better ways to find information, and extend our reach outside the College to the public, regulators, and veterinary students. Send me a comment and I promise to listen to your ideas.
I wish you all a very successful and productive 2020, and I look forward to hearing from you. My next task will be to figure out how to enable MailChimp to notify you whenever a news item is posted here!
ECLAM is shedding its previous website and emerging at a new URL with a new design.
We started with long discussions about why our old website wasn’t doing the job properly. Some of the reasons were technical: we couldn’t change the underlying colours, fonts and widgets, and we didn’t have a secure site (one that starts with https instead of http). Mostly it was because the underlying navigational structure wasn’t helping people find what they needed.
Following guidance from a course offered by a non-profit, Council approved a website redesign group to try to re-imagine a new site. Funds were tight, as always, and we believed we could do a credible job on our own, using open-source software and free images, saving the College tens of thousands in the process.
The College is indebted to the working group (Argyro, Corina, Eva, Cristian, Miriam, Stéphanie, and Greg) for giving countless hours, for caring enough to keep working at it, and for their continuing work to develop content and test the site. We are also grateful to the focus group (Stephan, Nora, Rony, Ivanela and Patricia) for providing fresh insights on our ideas.
Of course, it took longer than planned. The holidays, the exams, the challenge of learning new software, and the business of living and working all got in our way. Once we had gathered information from interviews, looked at the flow of visitors to our site, and discussed our ideas in biweekly teleconferences, we created ‘personas’: fictitious people with names and backgrounds who might all be our visitors. Our personas helped us see what the website needed to do from many different points of view.
We worked on various ideas for the home page layout, trying to keep visitors engaged past the initial 15 seconds that most visitors spend on a new site. Then we selected WordPress to be the engine (the Content Management System). WordPress is free, easy to learn, and has massive capabilities for future growth and evolution. Our goal was to make the new site mobile-friendly, easier to navigate, and ultimately to grow the College.
In 2019 we had a photo contest to recruit help in getting high-quality photographs of ECLAM in action. Images create the setting for every page or block. They make the content more interesting, like adding a song to lyrics. This was fun, and we received numerous entries, most of which are already in use on the new site. As we seem to be somewhat shy, most of our photos are of animals– no surprise there. If you can manage it, please keep sending us photos, especially of real people doing the really interesting things we do. We have a duty to educate.
The total cost to date is less than €500. Ongoing expenses will include the monthly cost of a hosting service, and some cost to buy widgets and security apps and other ‘plugins’ that we use to power the site without having to become programmers ourselves. Otherwise, the Secretariat will continue to keep the site updated with ECLAM news, policies and information. A website is worthless if the content isn’t engaging and useful.
The ECLAM website is our only public-facing entity. Much of it is still in the development phases, so keep coming back to see what’s new. Browse around everywhere, try out the clickable diagrams, and ask other people what they think. If you have comments and suggestions, hit the ‘Contact Us’ button and send us a message to let us know how we’re doing. A website like ours conveys our vision to the world and serves our members. If it doesn’t accurately reflect who we are, we can fix it– but only if you speak up and offer to help.
The Constitution and Bylaws of the College are definitely not a set of dusty forgotten files, at least not for the Council and Secretariat. The original documents have been amended many times over the years, each time requiring a more than ⅔ vote of those present to approve them.
Some amendments have been made because our parent organisation, the EBVS, required changes of all Colleges in order to both harmonise and improve the quality of the management of the organisation. An appeals process, for example, was clearly delineated a few years ago to ensure that we knew how to handle potential challenges to an official College decision.
Of the amendments made over the past 5 years, those involving the dreaded publication requirements have incurred the most discussion among the Diplomates. We try to reflect the core values of our members, while encouraging residents to attain the qualification. But EBVS is clear that specialists in veterinary medicine must contribute to the body of knowledge in their disciplines, and the most acceptable way to do that is to conduct research and publish in the journals.
Meanwhile, as veterinarians are being asked to do more with less regardless of where they work, we find it difficult to get sufficient volunteers to serve the needs of our growing College. We try to strike a balance between asking for too much time to serve on committees or Council and the need to retain corporate memory to maintain leadership stability. New Diplomates should feel that they are needed in positions of leadership, and to start participating in the affairs of the College from the beginning of their tenure. Without their enthusiasm and fresh ideas the College will not continue to advance.
2019 brings yet another crop of amendments to be considered, and the ballots have been sent out. By October we will have counted the votes and put new procedures in place to keep ECLAM the action-oriented, enthusiastic organisation it has always been. 2020 will mark our 20th year; may we all commit ourselves to supporting our mission for many years to come.
For the past few days I’ve been reading and hearing about some exciting news: the microbiome may affect neurologic disease like ALS. This news has popped up on my local public radio station, my Twitter feed, the weekly AVMA news, and as of this morning, the EARA newsletter. Somebody, I’m thinking, has a great public relations department!
And so when I saw it again on the EARA newsletter, I took the bait and clicked. Turns out the news is from the Weizmann Institute in Jerusalem. One of the co-authors is Alon Harmelin, a de facto member of ECLAM since 2003 and formerly the chair of the Training Committee. Alon currently supervises two residents, with a third scheduled to sit the examinations this year.
The research, which was published in Nature on 22 July, describes extensive experiments using mice transgenic for the human SOD1 (G93A) mutation on a C57BL/6J background. The mice have a shortened lifespan and develop hindlimb paralysis, and are a recognised model for ALS. The authors show that they also have a unique microbiome compared to wild-type littermates. After a lengthy series of experiments, they identified Akkermansia muciniphila as a source of nicotinamide, which improved motor signs in the mice on Rotarod and grip-strength testing as well as neurologic exam. In a small cohort of human ALS patients, a similar correlation with nicotinamide levels and possibly even the same bacterial species was identified.
Congratulations to Prof Harmelin and his staff on helping to bring this significant research to fruition! We hope it results someday in improved treatments for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease.