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Animal Ethics Committee (AEC)

ANIMAL ETHICS COMMITTEE (AEC)

(Previously known as the Animal Use and Care Committee – AUCC)

Welcome to the website of the AEC, a subcommittee of the Committee for Research Ethics and Integrity of the University of Pretoria, which reports to its Senate Committee for Research. All the faculties of UP involved in research for which experimental animals are used are represented on the AEC, i.e. Veterinary Science, Health Sciences and Natural and Agricultural Sciences. In addition the UP Biomedical Research Centre (UPBRC), the Law Faculty and the National SPCA are represented, the latter as representative of the public and of animal welfare organizations. The mandate of the AEC is to ensure that the use of experimental animals is necessary, that the number of animals used is reduced to a minimum, that unnecessary suffering of the animals is excluded and their well-being ensured and that the National Code of welfare standards for each species is maintained. A secondary goal is to protect the university and its faculties as well as the researchers from possible legal action. In order to achieve these goals all projects involving experimental animals have to be submitted to and approved by the AEC before it may proceed. Similarly, the use of animals for teaching purposes is also screened and approved on an annual basis.

Following legal advice, the Senate Committee for Research Ethics decided that all studies involving animals, even purely observational studies on wild animals, for example, must be approved by the AEC. We therefore included the collection of nasal and pharyngeal swabs in our latest version of the questionnaire, for example. We also have to approve studies where blood or other samples are used which have been collected during previous studies. According to international guidelines, ethical approval is required for studies using specimens from a bio-bank or previously stored samples

 
Utilization of the UPBRC

In 2002 the University of Pretoria approved the establishment of its Biomedical Research Centre at the Onderstepoort Campus as a centralized facility for research involving experimental animals. The mandate of the Centre includes the following:

  1. The provision of facilities for experimental animals that meet the highest international standards.
  2. The training of specialized professional and technical staff who can assist and supervise researchers in carrying out approved research projects involving experimental animals.
  3. Assuring that all ethical and legal requirements for the care and use of experimental animals, as set out in the National Standard, are met, thus protecting both the researcher and the University against possible legal actions.
  4. The improvement of the general standard of animal experimentation and ensuring that animal use is justified.

Utilization of the UPBRC facilities

Establishment of the UPBRC was preceded by extensive negotiations between the faculties involved. Agreement was reached that in order to meet the above requirements, and to justify the considerable investment by the university, it was essential that its facilities should be used whenever possible.

Consequently the Grové Animal Centre at the Faculty of Health Sciences and various other small animal housing units were closed down and all experimental procedures which involves animals and which will benefit man or other animals must be done at the UPBRC. However, the following exceptions to this rule were agreed upon:

  1. Where animals are used for teaching purposes they may be housed at the relevant department, provided that adequate housing and qualified staff are available and have been approved by the AEC.
  2. When animals are studied for their own benefit, as in the case of the Zoology Department, it can be done at their own specialized facilities after inspection and approval by the AEC. The same applies to studies on farm animals at the ‘proefplaas’ and on wildlife by the Mammal Research Institute.
  3. When facilities outside the University are used, they need to be approved by the AEC and/or the NSPCA and in some cases by DAFF.

 

News

Dawie Roodt emphasises the key role played by universities in economic growth in South Africa - 18/11/2014
As part of the Informatics/Gijima lecture series presented at the University of Pretoria, Dawie Roodt, Director and Chief Economist of the Efficient Group, spoke about how he views the next ten years from an economist’s perspective. As a nationally renowned economist who specialises in government finance and monetary policy he focused on the importance of private property rights and also referred to how humankind has evolved over time.
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Energetics gives new insight into the decline of cheetahs - 18/11/2014
An acclaimed international study looking into new reasons behind the dwindling numbers of cheetah in southern Africa had its inception at the University of Pretoria. Before this study, it was commonly thought that cheetah numbers were declining partly as a result of larger predators stealing their prey, thus lessening the availability of food and forcing them to expend more energy in search of food. However, a recent study offers new insight into why cheetahs may become vulnerable with regard to their energy levels, which could affect their general health and well-being and result in their ultimate decline.
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Pioneering publication by UP academic - 18/11/2014
Prof Alois Mlambo, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, recently launched his latest book, which was well received by academics, critics and readers. Entitled A history of Zimbabwe, the book is the first concise, single-volume history of Zimbabwe and provides an accessible and comprehensive synthesis of that country’s lived experience from the pre-colonial and colonial periods to recent times in independent Zimbabwe.
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Theology researchers recognised by the National Research Foundation - 14/11/2014
Prof Hans van Oort’s NRF A-rating was recently renewed for the next five years, while Prof Etienne de Villiers received a C2-rating from the NRF. This brings the Faculty of Theology's rated scholars to 16 – one A, one B, 13 Cs and one Y.
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UP researcher finds ways to improve the well-being of wildlife - 07/11/2014
Although wild animals have been captured and chemically immobilised for years (by using a form of anaesthesia induced by drugs in a dart), very little is known about the short- and long-term consequences of capture and the effects of immobilising drugs on wild animals. Dr Leith Meyer, Veterinary Sciences Pharmacology researcher at the University of Pretoria, is committed to finding solutions to improve the well-being of wild animals. The results of his research will help wildlife veterinarians and other conservation practitioners to ensure that the best methods of capture are practised and optimal immobilising drug cocktails and treatments are used.
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Giving the defenceless a voice in court - 06/11/2014
Crimes committed against people with developmental and other disabilities are similar in scope to crimes committed against women, children and the elderly, and yet the victimisation of people with disabilities remains largely unaddressed. This can be ascribed to their being perceived as voiceless and invisible members of society – a perception that makes them attractive targets for their perpetrators because they often believe that their victims will not be able to testify against them in court. Three large-scale research studies are currently under way at the University of Pretoria (UP) to change this situation.
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Dr Johan van Zyl named Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year - 05/11/2014
Dr Johan van Zyl, former Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria and one of the University’s most distinguished alumni, was named Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year at a ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre on Tuesday night, 28 October. The Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year award is a prestigious accolade bestowed on recipients voted for by executives of the top 100 companies of the previous year.
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