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Animal Care Excellence

By Matt Golosinski

If you’ve got rats, Northwestern’s Center for Comparative Medicine is ready to help them, and you.

Actually, the animal care experts in CCM, have a whole range of services to provide top-quality professional support for investigators in the University’s animal biomedical research community. Over the past three years, CCM has seen an increase in demand for its PreClinical Rodent Services (PCS) — one of several professional offerings available through this core teaching and training unit within the Office for Research. Currently totaling about 150 staff members, CCM is dedicated to providing Northwestern researchers with exemplary and humane animal care and to promoting animal welfare and ensuring regulatory compliance.

“We have expanded our skillset to meet the requests of investigators,” says Dr. Nicolette Zielinski-Mozny, scientist and laboratory animal veterinarian who joined Northwestern in 2005. She and her CCM colleagues have been championing PCS as an important resource that addresses technical gaps that can exist in scientific programs. “This service has proven beneficial to multiple labs when they are short staffed or when they don’t have time to receive specialized training for specific techniques.”

Getting those techniques right is essential to support research excellence. The PCS team offers more than a half dozen services — from drug dosing studies, feeding, and body weight determination to blood collection — that demand careful attention and specialized training and experience to perform properly. Investigators are charged based on the time, documentation, and overall complexity involved with the service.

While CCM’s extended team has depth, including four members on the Veterinary Staff and four members form the Husbandry Staff, the PCS group is small but growing in significance, says Zielinski-Mozny. The team features animal health technicians, animal care technicians, group leaders, and supervisors, all of whom contribute to a process designed to provide careful, customized attention to investigators.

“Our goal is to apply GLP-like standards in conducting research,” says Zielinski-Mozny, referencing the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Good Laboratory Practices guidance. As a result, the PCS team is constantly undergoing CCM-supervised training and retraining, she says.

“We expect to continue growing our service capacity to support Northwestern scientists with preclinical needs,” Zielinski-Mozny says. “In doing so, our focus is on advancing the development of potential therapeutics and early stage research discovery.”

Northwestern investigators in either Evanston or Chicago interested in learning more about CCM’s PreClinical Rodent Services, or other animal care services, can do so online here. (NetID required.)