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IOSP Initiative Update: Sharing Good Practice in Research Animal Sciences and Ethics Globally

By: Dave Lewis, University of Leeds, UK, Chair, IUPHAR IOSP Initiative

IUPHAR’s Integrative and Organ Systems Pharmacology (IOSP) Initiative was established in 2005, its remit to provide short introductory courses and experiential learning in research (laboratory) animal sciences and welfare for early career researchers or those new to the discipline, particularly in the Global South.

Since inception, the purpose, scope and reach of the initiative has grown substantially. A switch in focus to professional education and life-long learning opportunities for all those involved in the care and use of research animals including researchers, vets, animal technologists and animal ethics committee members. Each course is tailored to meet the needs and constraints of the region or country. To build in sustainability and growth, all courses are delivered as “Educate the Educator/Trainer” courses; participants are provided with the knowledge, educational approaches/tools and educational resources to deliver similar courses to their own Institutions or networks. We have co-created and co-delivered, in partnership with national and regional Pharmacological Societies, courses in India, China and across Africa.

Covid-19 put a temporary halt to our activities. However, as the world emerges from the pandemic, with UK Research and Innovation Overseas Development Assistance funding, Dr Dave Lewis (University of Leeds UK & IUPHAR IOSP Chair) has been extremely busy co-creating and co-delivering courses in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia and South Africa. By necessity, to enable them to be delivered in a Covid-secure environment, they have been delivered either remotely or hybridly. This has had the benefit of massively expanded our reach, these courses providing professional educational opportunities for over 1000 colleagues from across Africa.

We have supported the introduction of national animal research ethics guidelines in Uganda and have worked with colleagues from across Africa to create guidelines for animal ethics committees in Africa. We intend to further develop region-specific learning outcome frameworks for different stakeholder groups, guidance, and policy documents, and to get these approved by national/regional Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies.

Going forward, we intend to develop our provision to encompass all stakeholders involved in the care and use of research animals and expand our partnerships to additional disciplines, animal welfare organisations, and Regulatory Bodies. We would like to expand into other regions across the World, and further develop our region-specific learning outcome frameworks for different stakeholder groups, guidance and policy documents.

The support of all those individuals, Institutions, Pharmacological Societies and other Organisations who have contributed to this initiative is gratefully acknowledged. Without your contributions, we could not have achieved what we have.

This is a snapshot of our recent activities and future plans.  If you would like to know more or would like to explore the possibility of collaborating with the initiative to co-create and co-deliver activities in your country, network or region, please contact the Chair: Dr Dave Lewis (email: