A first of its kind for NWU and South Africa

Belinda Bantham -- Mon, 11/13/2017 - 09:40

A first of its kind for NWU and South Africa

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), together with the North West University’s (NWU’s) Preclinical Drug Development Platform (PCDDP) is breaking new grounds.

With more than 980 organisations and institutions having earned accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC); the PCDDP is the first in South Africa to receive this accreditation.

AAALAC is an international non-profit organisation that evaluates entities that use animals in research, teaching or testing.

Positive feedback from council

The Platform was applauded for their occupational health and safety and animal welfare programme. “The PCDDP was commended by the AAALAC council for providing and maintaining an exemplary programme of laboratory animal care and use,“ says Prof Anne Grobler, director of the DST/NWU PCDDP.

They were also applauded for having dedicated and enthusiastic staff members, a competent, professional and committed Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, an ethical review process, extremely clean and high-quality facilities as well as a well-written programme description.

Opportunities that come with being accredited

Meeting the standards and being awarded full accreditation by AAALAC will open a number of doors for the DST/NWU PCDDP.

Being certified will help the platform attract international clients and improve their chances of collaborating with international research groups and companies. It will also give them an added advantage when recruiting world-renowned researchers, skilled staff members and being part of large international research studies.

According to Prof Grobler, being accredited affords them the opportunity to obtain international recognition and acceptance, not only for the ethics, integrity and credibility of their studies, but also in terms of their compliance with international occupational health and animal welfare standards. She adds that this accreditation will also enhance the quality of research, teaching and testing by promoting humane, responsible animal care.


The past, the present and the future

The DST/NWU PCDDP initially started with the accreditation process in 2013. It took them three years to comply with the standards set by AAALAC, and they finally submitted their application to the international body earlier this year. After submission a site visit was conducted by two AAALAC inspectors in July 2017. The formal outcome of full accreditation being awarded to the Platform was announced on 31 October.

“We are all relieved and ecstatic that the entire process was successful,” says Prof Grobler. This will open doors for us in the international arena, especially in terms of being recognised and approved for drug development studies.”

Now that they are fully accredited, they plan to be the showcase for South Africa by maintaining their status through the continuous improvement of their programmes. “We will now be able to join other international research consortia which have AAALAC accreditation as a pre-requisite for membership. We also look forward to building strong networks with both academia and industries locally and abroad,” she says.

Prof Grobler thanks every member of the PCDDP team, the Ethics Committee on Animal Care, Health and Safety in Research (AnimCare) of the Faculty of Health Sciences, the NWU management and Prof Awie Kotze, the executive dean of the faculty for their contributions.