Refinement & Enrichment Advancements Laboratory

White pair-housed male rabbitsThe University of Michigan is home to one of the nation’s first and only programs dedicated to optimizing biomedical research efforts through improved animal well-being by understanding the intersection of the animal’s lived experience and the scientific results.

Directed by Tara Martin, DVM, the Refinement & Enrichment Advancements Laboratory (REAL) was originally established in 2014 by ULAM Faculty Veterinarians Jennifer Lofgren DVM, MS, DACLAM and Jean Nemzek, DVM, MS, DACVS. REAL is comprised of laboratory animal veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal care staff, and scientists dedicated to providing expertise and collaboration to colleagues interested in refining their animal models(s) and/or animal care.

The Laboratory has collaborated with scientists in the Department of Surgery and Anesthesiology, as well as veterinarians at Michigan State University and Wayne State University. As a laboratory, they have received three Cohen Clinical Research Awards, three American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) Foundation grants, and four AALAS Grants for Laboratory Animal Science (GLAS) grants.

REAL achieves its mission through utilizing the scientific method to evaluate both animal welfare and scientific outcomes. In both past and present studies, REAL has validated advancements in enrichment and refinements to produce scientifically-sound recommendations for improved animal care and use. 

Areas of Research

  • Carcass degradation rates to determine how long carcass tissue is viable for some research needs to facilitate reduction in animal use
  • Humane endpoints for aged rats to facilitate earlier study endpoints
  • Can Lavender Essential Oils Reduce Distress in Mice During CO Euthanasia?
  • Three Is a Crowd: Transitioning from Trio to Paired Mouse Breeding
  • Novel behavioral ethograms validated for identification of post-castration and post-spay pain in guinea pigs
  • Novel touch pad technology to identify post-surgical pain in peripheral ischemic injury and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) models in mice
  • Novel nest consolidation and grooming tests for assessment of post-laparotomy pain in mice
  • Feline ethogram to recognize illness behaviors prior to development of clinical signs in vaccine study
  • Impact of Trio and Pair Breeding on Environmental Parameters and Breeding Efficiency: Implications For Cage Change Frequencies
  • Tramadol and buprenorphine on sepsis models
  • Robenacoxib, carprofen, and low dose buprenorphine on DVT model
  • Multimodal vs single analgesic agent therapy for post-castration and post-spay pain guinea pigs
  • Extended release buprenorphine for prevention of post-spay pain in guinea pigs
  • Multimodal vs single analgesic therapy for prevention of post-laparotomy pain in mice
  • Analgesia efficacy of oral carprofen in mice
  • Pharmacokinetics of extended release buprenorphine in pigs
  • Pharmacokinetics of transdermal fentanyl in sheep
  • Evaluation of room air as a carrier for isoflurane instead of 100% oxygen
  • Preference testing of mice for a variety of novel and commercially available nesting materials
  • Epidemiological evaluation of whether presence of a nest interferes with identifying mice in need of veterinary attention
  • Use of 3D modeling to assess nest volume
  • Identifying which nesting material provides the greatest benefit for rabbit kit survival
  • Feline preference testing for environmental enrichment items
  • Rabbit social behavioral ethogram to identify what behaviors predict pair failure
  • Using increased monitoring and enrichment as interventions to increase success of pair maintenance

Education

REAL is also interested in supporting the education and training of laboratory animal stakeholders (e.g., scientists, students, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians) with an interest in the improvement of laboratory animal welfare. Those interested in learning more about animal enrichment are encouraged to review the following resources:

Projects

  • Novel methods of cageside evaluation of post-surgical pain in mice
  • Evaluation of analgesia efficacy for prevention of post-operative pain in mice
  • Interventions and methods of improving rabbit social housing success
  • Reducing stress during mouse cage change
  • Zebrafish environmental enrichment preferences
  • Determining minimum cage change frequencies for trio and pair bred mice in static and ventilated caging
  • Evaluation of paper-based bedding on microenvironmental parameters in mice and guinea pigs
  • Can lavender reduce mouse distress during CO2 euthanasia
  • Epidemiological evaluation of impact of large nests in home cages on mouse health
  • Evidence-based beyond use date recommendations for combined or diluted of anesthetics and analgesics
  • Evaluation of Analgesia Efficacy in Postoperative Mice Using Novel Cage-Side Measures. Lab Roots Bioconference Live Laboratory Animal Sciences Virtual Event. February 2017.
  • Social Housing of Laboratory Rabbits. Lab Roots Bioconference Live Laboratory Animal Sciences Virtual Event. February 2017.
  • Engaging through Enrichment: How the Animal Enrichment Committee works to combat compassion fatigue. Lab Roots Bioconference Live Laboratory Animal Sciences Virtual Event. February 2017.
  • Perioperative Management and Social Housing, Scientists Concerned with Animal Welfare. (SCAW): Animal Welfare and the IACUC Role in Assuring It. San Antonio, Tx. December 2017. 
  • Novel Cage-Side Assessments of Post-Operative Pain in Mice. World Congress for Alternatives. Seattle, WA. August 2017
  • Assessing Pain in Laboratory Animal Species. Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Medicine National Meeting. Calgary, Canada. June 2017.
  • The Three Rs: Putting the Principles Into Practice. Panel and Breakout Session. PRIM&R Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. New Orleans, LA. March 2017.
  • Managing Social Housing for Rodents and Rabbits. PRIM&R Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. New Orleans, LA. March 2017.
  • Challenges of Assessing Pain in Rodents. Laboratory Animal Science Symposium, University of Guelph, Canada. March 2017.
  • Optimizing Pairing Practices for Female New Zealand White Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). (2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Can Lavender Essential Oils Reduce Distress in Mice During CO Euthanasia? (2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Evaluation of Analgesia Efficacy in Postoperative Mice Using Novel Cage-Side Measures. (2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Three Is a Crowd: Transitioning from Trio to Paired Mouse Breeding. (2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Impact of Trio and Pair Breeding on Environmental Parameters and Breeding Efficiency: Implications For Cage Change Frequencies. 
(2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Compassion Fatigue Education and Engagement in Animal Research. (2017) National AALAS Meeting. Austin, TX
  • Novel Cage-Side Assessments of Post-Operative Pain in Mice. (2016) National AALAS Meeting. Charlotte, NC
  • Evaluation of Analgesia Efficacy in a Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) Surgical Pain Model. (2016) National AALAS Meeting. Charlotte, NC.
  • Transgenic Rabbit Breeding Colony Kit Survival Rates (AALAS 2016)
  • The Effects of Socialization and Playtime on Antibody Production in Long-Term, Single-Housed New Zealand White Rabbits (AALAS 2016)
  • Evaluation of Analgesia Efficacy in a Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) Surgical Pain Model (AALAS 2016)
  • Novel Cageside Methods for Recognizing Unalleviated Postoperative Pain in Mice (AALAS 2016)
  • Which Nest Is Best? Nesting Material Improves NZW
  • Modifying Rabbit Anesthesia for Increased Surgical Duration (AALAS 2015)
  • Microfluidic Alternatives to Animal Research (AALAS 2015)
  • Comparison of Rolled Paper to Crinkle Paper as Enrichment for C57BL/6J Mice (AALAS 2015)
  • Digital Modeling as a Novel Approach to the Analysis of Mouse Nests (AALAS 2015)
  • Novel Methods of Evaluation of Postsurgical Pain in Female Guinea Pigs (AALAS 2015)
  • Postoperative Analgesic Efficacy in the Male Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) (AALAS 2015)
  • Large Nests Do Not Interfere with the Ability to Identify Sick or Dead Mice (AALAS 2015)
  • Troubleshooting Aggressive Behaviors in Pair-Housed Rabbits Using Environmental Enrichment (AALAS 2015)
  • Concentration Impacts Analgesic Efficacy of Tramadol in Mice (AALAS 2014)
  • Benefits of 21% O2 Compared with 100% O2 for Isoflurane Delivery to Mice (AALAS 2014)
  • Behavioral Ethograms as a Health Assessment Tool in a Feline Vaccine Study (AALAS 2014)
  • A Novel TouchPad Application As A Functional Tool for Gait Assessment: A Pilot Study Using a Murine Hindlimb Ischemia Model (AALAS 2014)
  • Validation of a Novel Behavioral Ethogram for Identification of Post-operative Pain in the Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) (AALAS 2014)
  • Presence of Nesting Material Does Not Prevent Ability To Accurately Identify Sick or Dead Mice During Routine Health Checking (AALAS 2014)
  • Determination of an Effective Tramadol Dose in a Murine Model of Abdominal Surgery and Inflammation (AALAS 2013)
  • Which Nest is Best? A Study to Harmonize the Happiness of Both Mouse and Animal Care Technician (AALAS 2013)

Affiliated Faculty

Related Animal Care A-Z Documents

Questions?

If you would like to know more about REAL, or are interested in learning about how animal enrichment can enhance your next project, please contact ulam-questions@umich.edu or call (734) 764-0277.