ANIMAL RESEARCH CONSULTING
A Boston area academic research institution with an existing AAALAC accredited and OLAW assured animal facility; was looking for services to assit them with start up of a new facility and the shutdown of the existing facility.
The challenges were performance issues with staff, preparing unique research colonies for quarantine and rederivation, transfer of animals between institutions on a biweekly basis, training and coordination of the staff reductions and keeping research on tract during this transition period. The old facility closed in December 2009 and the new one ASBL 2/3 opened. Rederivations and shipping to new facilities continued through the summer of 2009. Ultimately the client moved to a larger institutions animal care facility and closed the ABSL 2/3 facility..
A Cambridge Based biotech had enjoyed the luxury of a 10 year stable animal care staff for their animal facility. Due to family issues the animal care staff left the institution. This change highlighted two things: how difficult it is to get and keep good animal care staff, and it was an opportunity to move to an integrated model of animal care where the Animal Technician does both the husbandry and research with the animals. Michele was contacted to provide hands on training in husbandry, regulations, animal welfare and the high priority placed on it by the institution.The new staff had a variety of backgrounds but no lab animal experience. In the early stages Michele was on site weekly to provide training in clean/dirty side procedures, animal health checks, organizing daily work. Also providing hands on training in restraint, injections, gavage, and blood sampling. As the project has moved ahead Michele's role has moved into advice on the animal models and oversite/mentoring.
In 2003 a small C.R.O. Biotech Started in Cambridge MA. One of their scientific colleagues suggested they contact Michele Cunneen.
The company was evaluating start up space for a small lab and animal facility(1500-2000 sq feet inclusive) to perform bench work and house hamsters, rats and mice. Several locations were identified and toured. Michele provided input into the pros and cons of each site. Also some rough concept drawing for retrofitting traditional unused lab space into animal facility space to allow for price comparison different types of space available. Ultimately space in a technology building was selected with a common glass wash area and a small 10' by 16' room to be used as animal holding. The final move in to the space required sourcing a cabinet washer and getting buy in from property owners to install it in the shared space. A unique vent rack solution allowed for the housing of all the animals in one rack in one space.
The client was connected to all the local vendors for food, bedding and animals. The continuing services provided were; consulting veterinarians, hands on technical training, IACUC coordination and monthly operational supervision. The client, one year later got its AAALAC Accreditation. Michele maintains that relationship today. Since start up the company has moved to larger suburban space which required gutting an unoccupied lab space and converting it into an AAALAC accreditable animal facility. Since the move the company has been successful enough to renovate to double its animal care space only 9 months after move in, adding surgical and procedure areas by renovating an adjacent office area. Michele's design plan allowed for the use of modular walls and modest HVAC upgrades to bring the project in around 100 dollars a square foot. The new space was site visited by AAALAC in April 2008. The client has continued to expand with Michele designing a behavioral space and continuing to serve as IACUC Coordination and operational consultant. The Institution continues its full accreditation.