“Animal Research beyond Publications”
Preconference workshop (Online)
14th International Research Conference 2021
Animal-based research has made substantial contributions to achieve several medical breakthroughs over the decades such as vaccines and antibodies, modern anaesthetics, cancer therapeutics, asthma inhalers and many more. Thus, as a scientific community, it is important to improve our animal-based research beyond publications to achieve next-generation medical breakthroughs. The pre-conference workshop on “Animal Research beyond Publications” was held on 7th September 2021 from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm on zoom. This workshop was organized by the Institute for Combinatorial Advanced Research and Education of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU-Care) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SLALAS).
The opening session was hosted at KDU and was chaired by Major General MP Peiris RWP RSP VSV USP ndc psc MPhil, the Vice Chancellor of KDU. In his opening speech, he mentioned that KDU is dedicated to innovative research to solve national problems and has established facilities for new generation scientists to conduct biomedical research using a multidisciplinary approach. He further mentioned that there is a scientific consensus that these modern technologies cannot fully replace animal-based research. Thus, KDU has established its animal house to conduct animal-based research using responsible and ethical approaches. Then, Dr Prasad Premarathne, Assistant Director of KDU-Care gave a brief introduction to KDU-Care, its facilities and resources and the opportunities for research collaborations. Dr Krishanthi Premarathne, President of SLALAS delivered a speech briefing the establishment of SLALAS and its annual activities for the professional development of laboratory animal scientists in Sri Lanka.
The first lecture titled “laboratory animal-based research towards medical progress” was delivered by Prof Mangala Gunatilake, Professor, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. In her lecturer, she presented the past, present and future contributions of animal-based research for medical advancement quoting notions from the first Medical Handbook of Corpus Hippocraticum 400B.C. and continued to explained major medical discoveries ranging from vaccines, to insulin to modern anaesthetics to COVID-19 vaccines that were developed with the contributions from animal-based research
The second lecture on “precise and transparent animal-based research for medical advancement” was delivered by Prof Sugandhika Suresh, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She emphasized the importance of using suitable animal models, statistical techniques, standard practices, ethical guidelines and reporting standards to conduct precise and transparent animal-based research.
The third lecture, animal models in vaccine development was delivered by Dr Prasadi De Silva, Senior Lecturer, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture, Uva Wellassa University. Starting from the basic steps in vaccine development, she explained four different animal models namely models used to assess immune responses, natural disease models, surgical or experimental models and surrogate disease models used in vaccine development.
The final lecture on animal models in drug discovery and development was delivered by Prof R.P.V.J. Rajapakse, Senior Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Peradeniya. He explained the reasons for using the animal models for drug discovery and development quoting several examples of the work being carried out in his research laboratory.
All four resource persons participated in the common question and answer session which was moderated by Dr Gihani Jayaweera, Lecturer, Department of Basic Science, Faculty of Allied Health Science, KDU. During the session, several fruitful discussions were taken place. Those include the ethical aspects of using samples received from abattoirs and collected for diagnostic procedures, use of non-vertebrate models, direct precedent to clinical trials of herbal products that are currently in the market, animal models for antibody development, the global trend towards non-animal alternatives and taking the animal-based research findings to the market place and society.
There were seventy-five participants from varied categories comprising of undergraduate and postgraduate students, senior and junior academic staff members, research assistants and professionals representing mainly from academic institutes (Figure 1 and 2). Based on the feedback received from 56 participants, 79% strongly agreed that this workshop helped them gain new knowledge and 77% strongly agreed that it aroused their interest in laboratory animal science. The overall rating of the workshop was positive with 66% excellent and 23% good ratings.
The workshop was designed, planned and coordinated by Dr Gihani Jayaweera, Lecturer, Department of Basic Science, Faculty of Allied Health Science, KDU under the guidance of Prof Charitha Goonasekera, Director-KDU-Care. Dr Peshala Kumari, Senior Lecturer, Dr Dilhara Karunarathne, Senior Lecturer, Dr Kanchana Bandara, Senior Lecturer, Department of Basic Science of Faculty of Allied Health Science, KDU and Dr Kalpa Samarakoon, Senior Lecturer, KDU-Care were involved in organizing the workshop as the members of the organizing committee of Basic and Applied Sciences Session of 14th International Research Conference of KDU.
Figure 1: Distribution of participants by designation
Figure 2: Distribution of participants by the institute