FRAME Reduction Steering Committee Training School
There is a general lack of knowledge on the part of biologists about key aspects of reduction in laboratory animal use and a need for statistical experts to appreciate the issues and problems that biologists face.
In a bid to increase laboratory staff knowledge and understanding, the FRAME Reduction Steering Committee ran a training school in the Experimental Design & Statistical Analysis of Biomedical Experiments.
The school was the ideal way to facilitate dialogue and enhance the application of experimental design and statistical analysis to animal experimentation to improve: a) animal welfare; b) the amount of information from a given number of animals involved; and c) the quality of biomedical research and testing. It gave participants an appreciation of what they need to consider when designing an experiment and it also provided them with the basic skills needed to plan and analyse their work in such a way as to minimise the number of animals needed and maximise the quality and relevance of the scientific output.
Reduction in laboratory animal use can most effectively be achieved by rigorous experimental design and appropriate statistical analysis of any results. An effective experimental design must incorporate the aims of the work to be carried out, the choice of experimental animals and techniques, the parameters to be measured and the methods to be used for analysis of the results.
Held at the University of Manchester, the programme was taught by eight expert tutors with the help of two support staff and attracted participants from 13 European countries with a variety of research backgrounds. In total, 52 participants attended. The majority were postgraduates, but veterinary surgeons, senior lecturers, postdoctoral researchers, and an associated professor, institute director and scientific officer were also present.
The format included lectures, group discussions, individual exercises and computer-based sessions. Participants were also able to discuss their own research problems and experiences with the tutors. This interactive approach strengthened and supplemented the information given in the more traditional lectures. The four-day School also fostered networking and dissemination of information between participants. Additional group sessions, specific examples and a basic introduction to the computer software covered in the programme were also included. Participants provided very positive feedback. The majority said that they would recommend the course to colleagues and agreed that it had exposed them to new knowledge and practices, and the instructors provided helpful assistance.
A set of questions given to the participants at the start and end of the School will be analysed in an attempt to determine the participants’ existing knowledge of the subject and to establish if and what they learned as a consequence of the training. It is hoped to make lectures and other learning materials from the School available online and in the longer term to expand these resources to enable the materials to be used on a wider scale and provide assistance for Training Courses held in house by commercial and academic institutions. The University of Manchester is now investigating the possibility of incorporating the Training School into their postgraduate training syllabus.