AWI Announces 2015 Refinement and Enrichment Grant Awardees

AWI is dedicated to improving the care, housing and handling of animals in research facilities. From our earliest days, we have encouraged laboratory personnel to provide animals with comfortable housing and the opportunity to engage in species-typical behaviors, while sparing them needless suffering. In continuing this long-standing support, AWI recently awarded Refinement and Enrichment grants to develop and demonstrate innovative methods of refinement and/or environmental enrichment to better the lives of animals in research. This year’s grantees are:

Dr. Rachel Dennis: Effects of Light Spectrum on the Well-Being of Birds Used in Research. Birds can see in the ultraviolet spectrum, which is missing from most indoor housing. Dr. Dennis’ study is designed to find an ideal mix of ultraviolet and visible lighting intensity, to improve the well-being and enrich the behavioral repertoire of birds in indoor housing.

Dr. Brittany Backus: Investigating the relationship between environmental enrichment and response to stress in pigs. Handling can be very stressful to pigs, but may be a necessary component of many experiments. Dr. Backus will be giving piglets many novel items as they are reared and interacting with the animals frequently, to determine if they become less anxious and more amenable to handling.

Ms. Janet Wolforth: Is a square mouse restrainer more comfortable and safer for the animal than a cylindrical restrainer? Handling can be very stressful to mice, as well, and can negatively impact the health and well-being of the mice and affect the results of the study. Ms. Wolforth will be assessing a device that she developed to reduce the stress experienced by mice during restraint.

Following these studies, all of the animals will be retired from research and given the opportunity to be adopted, fulfilling a key component of AWI’s Policy on Research and Testing with Animals. There will be information about the next round of Refinement and Enrichment grants in the next issue of the AWI Quarterly.