Archive for September, 2010

I don’t think I need to say more.

Check out the original post from NotExactlyRocketScience at DiscoverMagazine.

[Photo from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com%5D

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Please check out my latest blog for the Stem Cell Network!

In this post, I outline the process of preparing hematopoietic stem cells for patient transplant. Check out the previous post to learn more about why this type of transplantation is used in cancer patients.

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CALAS inquiries

I often get emails from local animal techs who are looking for more information about their local CALAS chapter. I got news for everyone: I’m not involved with that disfunctional group any longer and have not been for a while!

I would also strongly suggest that if you are a CALAS Pacific member that you DO NOT renew your membership for 2011. Instead of improving animal welfare and the education of animal technicians, they spent $250 on a failed restaurant reservation, intending on throwing a party for one of the executives. This was a party that members were NOT consulted on, despite the fact that it was member fees which paid for the costs.

And after this party failed (no one wanted to come to a party in the middle of nowhere), ANOTHER dinner was set up where the “guest of honor” was wined, dined and gifted (along with her husband – remind me again, what he has done for animal welfare?) on your membership dollars. Brilliant! When the regional organization has an annual budget of only a few thousand dollars, spending several hundred on one member doesn’t seem right to me.

Add that to the additional $500 the chapter spent to send this same person to the Quebec CALAS conference (even though there were other qualified nominees) and suddenly you have a suspicious amount of money being spent on one person.  Hm.

And how many educational seminars have been hosted outside of RLAT training? ONE seminar. ONE webinar (which was industry arranged and presented, and hardly counts as more than advertising).

Anyways, my ranting aside, if you still would like to contact CALAS, try this site for national contacts. And if you ask nicely, the national contacts should also be able to direct you to local contacts.

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Today was the annual Terry Fox Run, supporting cancer research, awareness and care. As a general rule, I have very little sympathy for charities. Most support themselves by keeping enough cash flow to pay for their own employment and little else.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Terry Fox himself was courageous and most definitely a local hero – but I think the administrators of the Terry Fox Foundation are greedy and self-serving.

From the Canada Revenue Agency charity listings:
In 2009, the Terry Fox Foundation had:

  • 102 million in assets, held in cash and investments
  • 27 million in donations, interest, and government grants

This is in 2009 alone.  How much did they spend?  Where did they spend it?

  • 3.75 million on fundraising and management
  • 2 million on advertising and other office expence

But what about the research??? What about finding the “cure” for cancer??

  • 1.3 million spent for research funding and grants

Enough said.

Click here to investigate your favourite Canadian charity!

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The UBC/animal research debacle continues this past week with an article in the Georgia Strait.

I am cautiously supportive. Even though I believe that animal research is sometimes justified (AFTER exhaustive tissue culture testing and AFTER we understand a certain system well and ONLY IF the people using the animals are well trained in both methodology and ethics… which doesn’t happen nearly enough…)

I think that any amount of attention towards the welfare of animal research is a good thing. 🙂

I used to work in animal research, as I’ve mentioned before. A lot of things convinced me to change careers, and this was one of them.

One of the turning points for me was a biomedical ethics course I took at UBC. I took this class after I had been out of school and working in biomedical research for a few years. Initially, I only took it because I thought it would be an easy class. But in the end, it really opened my eyes. Even though the class focused on human biomedical ethical decisions, much of the underlying theory can be applied to research animal ethics. And I realized then, that a lot of biomedical research cannot be justified morally. Some, yes. But not all.

For example, one underlying idea in moral philosophy and ethics is the idea of “use”. Do we have a right to “use” another creature for our own purposes? Many would argue yes from a utilitarian perspective – the argument of “the greater good”. But even while “using” we have responsibilities.

The Canadian Council for Animal Care recognizes animals as sentient – in other words, capable of feeling, capable of pain. Of suffering. There are good guidelines in place in this book. And yet, they are not mandatory. And yet, UBC continues to let researchers with foreign credentials do research on mice with standards that are unacceptable in North America. There are labs which refuse to give animals the proper pain medications or use proper, sterilized instruments. Veterinarians are handcuffed by institutional rules which do not allow them to conduct surprise visits on animal facilities. Technicians who care for the animals are overworked and under-educated, and not allowed the time to train properly.

So what would I tell UBC?
Teach your technicians and students and staff how to use and care for animals so that we do not use more than necessary. Stop allowing PIs to coerce grad students into to use mice just so that they can get their name on another publication. And give the public the means to shut down those labs who violate the standards of animal care in North America.

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I learned recently that the professional group I used to belong to (CALAS) spent $250 on a failed restaurant deposit in a bid to throw a party for one of the executives.

*hangs head*

I’m not sure what to say about this group of people, other than the fact that I’m deeply ashamed that they have taken members money and spent it so frivolously and without consultation. They have only had one educational seminar this year and one webinar that cost nothing. This is a group that is supposed to be educating the research technician community in Vancouver, and they are throwing away money on restaurant deposits????


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