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AAALAC awards Emory and Yerkes "Continued Full Accreditation"

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Holly Korschun

AAALAC International has conferred continued full accreditation to Emory University's Division of Animal Resources and Yerkes National Primate Research Center until 2020. Yerkes led the way at Emory in first achieving AAALAC accreditation in 1984, followed by the rest of the university in 1992. Both have since been continuously accredited by AAALAC.

Such accreditation shows an institution is serious about setting, achieving and maintaining high standards for animal care and use, and is committed to animal welfare in science. The recent accreditation followed site visits including a comprehensive and rigorous review of animal research activities and related programs and facilities.

The correspondence from AAALAC specifically commended Emory for its high professionalism, demonstrable collegiality, and programs and infrastructure in support of research. The official notification letter to Yerkes highlighted as especially noteworthy the strong administrative commitment to the program, the detailed occupational health and safety program; the excellent program of facility sanitation, maintenance and repair; the detailed and well-documented staff training and animal behavioral management programs; and the well-conceived and implemented veterinary care program.

Michael Huerkamp, DVM, DACLAM, director of Emory's Division of Animal Resources (DAR), and Emory's Institutional Contact with AAALAC International, commented "This achievement speaks to a long history of engaged and supportive senior leadership at the University and School of Medicine levels -- most recently that of Drs. Michael Zwick and David Wynes; the considerable investment in the DAR in state-of-the-art facilities and technology that promote consistency in care; leadership of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) chaired by Dr. Sam Speck; a talented and committed DAR team; and productive relationships among DAR, the IACUC, Facilities Management, our occupational health, safety and medicine specialists, and the research community that we serve." 

Yerkes director R. Paul Johnson, MD, added, "We are very proud to receive full accreditation from AAALAC, the organization that sets the worldwide standards for animal care. The accreditation serves as a strong validation of our unwavering commitment to animal care at Yerkes, as well as the exceptional dedication and expertise of our employees."

AAALAC International is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. More than 980 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 44 countries have earned AAALAC accreditation, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use. These institutions volunteer to participate in AAALAC's program in addition to complying with the local, state and federal laws that regulate animal research.

Huerkamp characterized AAALAC International as comparable to the Joint Commission accrediting health care organizations and programs. "Emory University is pleased to participate in the assessment and accreditation process to assure our scientists, the public and our sources of research funding that we not only meet the minimum standards required by NIH and by federal law, but go beyond that to achieve excellence in the care of animals, enable great research as a product of that care, and assure the responsible conduct of investigations involving animal models."

Joyce Cohen, VMD, DACLAM, associate director for animal resources at Yerkes and leader for the center's reaccreditation, says "The Yerkes animal resources team continues to provide the highest level of care and compassion of our animals. It is an honor to work with such a dedicated team at Yerkes, which is well deserving of AAALAC's recognition."

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