Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Equine Veterinary Medical Center (EVMC) is to begin overseeing the ethical component of animal research conducted by Sidra Medicine and Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU); research that is designed to help develop innovative medical treatments.

‘Using animals in research is a privilege granted by society to the research community, and we are dedicated to upholding the highest standards,’ said Dr Tatiana Vinardell, Head of Research and Education, EVMC. ‘Animals are used in research because of their similarity to humans, and such studies aim to provide significant knowledge, or lead to improvement in the wellbeing, of humans and animals alike.’

The Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (IACUC) at EVMC will be responsible for ensuring that all activities involving animals – ranging from camels and horses to zebrafish – in research at the QF entities are conducted with critical thought, judgment, and analysis.

Dr Khalid Fakhro, Acting Chief Research Officer at Sidra Medicine, said, ‘Sidra Medicine is proud to continue working closely with QF’s research institutions. Our close collaboration with EVMC is based around ensuring that rigorous ethical and regulatory requirements are standardized for all animal research in Qatar.

‘By establishing a reliance agreement with EVMC’s IACUC, studies conducted within Sidra Medicine’s Zebrafish research facility will lead to more precise diagnosis of diseases affecting our patients and guide personalised treatment options in the future.’

Dr Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research at HBKU and Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation at QF, said, ‘QF and HBKU takes the transparency of its initiatives and projects very seriously, particularly when it comes to the use of animals in research.

‘Our faculty members and researchers must always work within national and international guidelines. To assist, we provide as much advice and support as possible to ensure that care and compassion continue to be hallmarks of all our research activities. We welcome the opportunity to work with the IACUC to develop and maintain the very highest standards and best practices.’

As part of EVMC’s dedication to promoting research to advance veterinary science, a number of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) students are currently completing externships at the EVMC. The QF partner university students have been involved in number of projects – including animal research – exploring areas such as genetics, neurology, and stem cell development, while receiving an insight into the application of precision medicine.

‘Externships provide an opportunity for students to develop their fundamental scientific backgrounds and also to benefit from the clinical and applied research environment present at EVMC, widening the views and approaches of related research and clinical cases,’ said Dr Vinardell.

EVMC IACUC’s vision is to ensure the highest standards of care and use of animals involved in research are maintained and conducted in compliance with Ministry of Public Health guidelines and strictly follow internationally recognised standards.