ECLAM Response to JVME 45(4): 556-566, 2018

The European College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ECLAM) welcomes the attention to laboratory animal medicine (LAM) as a career opportunity. A survey of veterinary schools(1) showed that only 29% of the schools required LAM topics in the core curriculum, predominantly integrated in other topics. The remainder either offered no LAM curriculum, included it as elective, or combined core basic science with elective clinical/pathological training in the final years.

The authors concluded that day-one veterinary graduates in Europe “are ready to [be designated veterinarians (DVs)] in compliance with the regulations set by the licensing veterinary authority.” We disagree with this, even for small establishments, based on (a) the legal requirement for expertise and on (b) new graduates’ unfamiliarity with commonly-used research species.

The authors’ conclusion is not in line with Article 25 of Directive 2010/63/EU, which states “Member States shall ensure that each breeder, supplier, and user of laboratory animals has a designated veterinarian with expertise in LAM” [emphasis added]. It is normally the national authority for laboratory animal research that appoints the DV, not the veterinary licensing body. The European Commission published recommendations on competences needed by DVs, clearly stating that additional postgraduate education is necessary.(2)

An undemanding approach to professional competence could negatively affect career opportunities and the quality of services delivered. Laboratory animal veterinarians need specialist expertise to establish productive partnerships with scientists and other professionals. The DV is a novel legal entity to protect animal welfare and improve research quality and the Directive requires member states to implement this requirement.

The authors assert that dogs, cows, pigs and rabbits are “commonly” used in research, but the official 2013 report lists 3.12% rabbits, 1.28% ungulates and 0.25% carnivores. Mice (60.96%), rats (13.96%) and cold-blooded animals (12.47%) are the top three in European research.(3) Veterinary education on domestic animals does not provide expertise in their use in complex human disease models. The multidisciplinary aspects of LAM go far beyond clinical veterinary care.

DVs are indispensable for maintaining public trust that research animals receive proper care. Their required expertise is obtained only through postgraduate experience and education, offered in research facilities by those most qualified to provide it. Veterinary students should certainly be introduced to LAM, but the required expertise can thereafter only be acquired through postgraduate education and training such as ECLAM provides.


1. Iatridou D, Nagy Z, De Briyne N, Saunders J, Bravo A. Mapping the Teaching of Laboratory Animal Science and Medicine in the European Union and European Free Trade Area. JVME. 2018;June (Advance online):1–11.
2. European Commission. National Competent Authorities for the implementation of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes; A working document on the development of a common education and training framework to fulfil the Directive requirement [Internet]. Brussels; 2014. Available from: Accessed 8/8/18.
3. Council of Europe. Seventh Report on the Statistics on the Number of Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes in the Member States of the European Union COM(2013)859/final [Internet]. Brussels; 2013. Available from: Accessed 8/8/18.