(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:
The provision of facilities for experimental animals that meet the highest international standards.
The training of specialized professional and technical staff who can assist and supervise researchers in carrying out approved research projects involving experimental animals.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
UP awarded status as MRC collaborative centre for malaria research - 30/10/2014
The Medical Research Council (MRC) invited higher education institutions, science councils and registered non-profit research organisations in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to submit applications to become part of their new initiative, MRC Collaborating Centres for Malaria Research. The University of Pretoria’s Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP CSMC) recently received word that their application has been successful. The network of MRC collaborating centres for malaria research will collectively provide a multidisciplinary approach to malaria research; synergise efforts on malaria research to achieve common goals; and facilitate scientific collaboration among malaria researchers in Southern Africa.
Breast cancer is not a death sentence - 29/10/2014
In South Africa, one in 29 women is diagnosed with breast cancer each year. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many do not take the necessary steps to detect the disease in its early stages and to encourage others to do the same. Most of us dread ever hearing the words, “You have cancer”, because this disease is sure to have a significant impact on all areas of a person’s life. Ms Jonita van Wyk, who graduated earlier this year with a master’s degree in Social Work (Health Care) in the Department of Social Work and Criminology at the University of Pretoria (UP), conducted research on the social functioning of women with breast cancer, under the supervision of Dr Charlene Carbonatto.