Our Provisional Programme for AST2020 is now available below.

You can also download a copy of our At A Glance Programme

Online bookings for workshops will commence on 3rd February 2020.

Watch out for email announcements and instructions.


We will be pleased to receive your submissions for Posters.

Please return to book your attendance on our workshops from 3rd February 2020. Watch out for announcements and instructions on how to book your place on workshops.

    • 24 March, 2020

      LASA Session

      13:30  -  15:30
      LASA Session
      A Wee Dram of Scottish Science

      LAVA Session

      13:30  -  15:30
      LAVA Session

      Ethics is the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. It is obvious that the use of animals in medical research, entirely for the benefit of others, should be questioned and governed by sound moral principles. It is  perhaps less obvious that this should also apply to clinical treatment of animals when such treatment is intended to be for their own benefit. The approach to ethical evaluation of proposed treatment of animals under the Animals Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA) and under the Veterinary Surgeons Act (VSA) have both similarities and differences; but both can undoubtedly learn from the other.

      This afternoon session is planned to enable the key ethical issues of treatment of animals under ASPA and the VSA to be aired and to explore how understanding and knowledge of each can benefit the other.

      The session will begin with a practical description of what ethics really is, and how the principles can be applied to difficult decisions on how we treat animals. Use of such ethical principles will then be described by a speaker working and conducting research in each of the two environments, ASPA and VSA. The take home message of what each can learn from the other will then be summarised and the floor thrown open for discussion.


      IAT Session

      13:31  -  14:30
      IAT Annual General Meeting
      The Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Animal Technology
      14:30  -  15:00
      Andrew Blake Tribute Award 2020
      15:00  -  15:30
      Kevin Dolan Memorial Guest Lecture

      Giant Footsteps

      The Asian elephant is facing a very uncertain future in its natural habitat – rapidly expanding human populations, poaching and habitat fragmentation are putting remaining numbers of Asian elephants under extreme pressure. This once wide-ranging species is now increasingly restricted to pockets of habitat that can only sustain potentially unviable populations of animals.

      This presentation will discuss the role that the modern Zoo can play in the conservation of the world’s largest land mammal. The presentation will describe key aspects of elephant wellness, husbandry, enrichment and facility design that uses modern technology to enhance species specific behaviour, with specific reference to the development of Dublin Zoo’s ground breaking elephant programme. 


      Paper Presentations

      15:30  -  16:00
      Trade Time Express

      "It's Speed Dating for Exhibitors" 60 seconds for each company to tell you a little about themselves or their product.

      Come and enjoy the presentations and then visit the exhibition hall to say hi and congratulate them on their presentation.


      Keynote Speaker

      16:40  -  17:30

      Tales of an ocean wanderer: Seabirds as sentinels of marine ecosystem function (and dysfunction)

      The world’s most numerous seabird of tropical waters is the sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) with 21-25 million birds occupying the circumequatorial zone of all major oceans. Despite it having a current conservation status of ‘Least Concern’, throughout its range numbers of sooty terns are declining precipitously. Why? Part of the answer must lie in its near-obligate relationship with large pelagic fish and cetaceans that drive small fish to the ocean surface where sooty terns and other tropical seabirds undertake ‘facilitated foraging’. Intense overharvesting of tuna and other large fish from the world’s oceans in recent decades may have exerted unprecedented demographic pressures on seabirds. Also experiencing ocean warming, intense predation from invasive species on their breeding grounds and pollution, seabirds are now some of the world’s most threatened birds.

      Our long-term study since 1990 on Ascension Island of the largest population of sooty terns in the Atlantic Ocean has unlocked many secrets of how colonies of such a long-lived seabird persist and function. However, Ascension’s 350,000-strong population has declined in size by 84% in the last 60 years. The largest marine protected area (MPA) in the Atlantic Ocean (443,000 km2) was designated in August last year and is centered on Ascension Island. Our recent work has focussed on gathering new information on the sooty tern’s diet, foraging movements and population-level responses to shifting predation pressures. All of these findings from studying sooty terns as ocean sentinels will be discussed in terms of ecosystem function and how they might inform the ‘roll out’ of the new MPA.


    • 25 March, 2020

      Paper Presentations

      09:30  -  10:30

      Welcome by the Presidents of LAVA, LASA and IAT presentations focusing on achievements over the last 20 years celebrating the work of technologists, vets and science.

      The Institute of Animal Technology (IAT), the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA) and the Laboratory Animal Veterinary Association (LAVA) have been at the forefront of their respective fields in laboratory animal research for decades, and have increasingly worked closely to set good practice and standards in our important work.

      The IAT was founded in 1950 as the Animal Technicians Association. IAT’s primary purpose remains the delivery of education and training for those who care for laboratory animals, while helping to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare and facilitating the needs of modern science. This has been achieved, in part, by, for example, the move to Ofqual-recognised qualifications, the development of the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO) role, and the evolution of the IAT Congress.

      LASA was founded in 1963 by a consortium of industrial, university, ministry and research council representatives. Its membership is made up of scientists and laboratory animal professionals all of whom have a keen interest in animal research, the application of the 3Rs, animal welfare, education, training, ethics, and the regulation of animal research. Our work is both highly demanding and rewarding, and the sector offers a diversity of roles and responsibilities to suit people at every stage of their career; in many respects getting involved with LASA offers similar opportunities.

      The role of the veterinary surgeon in laboratory animal science is also wide and varied, with vets working in a variety of environments in many roles including as Named Veterinary Surgeons (NVSs), clinicians and researchers.LAVA was established in the 1963 and works to promote the advancement of veterinary knowledge and skills in subjects connected with laboratory animal science, and through this to promote laboratory animal welfare.



      11:00  -  13:00
      Joint Workshop - Procedural Training

      Animal procedural training techniques & asepsis

      The Workshop will take place in cabaret set-up room to facilitate the hands on nature of the workshop. It will be suitable for all delegates; Animal Technicians and Personal Licence holders (PILh), or anyone needing CPD.

      The session will start with an introductory talk ‘good practices and how they benefit welfare and science.’ Followed by a video to guide each group into aseptic technique and preparation.

      Delegates will then split into groups, these groups will move from one station to another, each station will have a dedicated trainer.  

      The different stations will include:

      • Handing instruments; the correct way
      • Suturing skills; using fake skin
      • Aseptic preparation; how to prepare and gown up
      • Injection routes; using models
      • Hands on with a unique seal model from St Andrews University

      Paper Presentations

      11:00  -  13:00
      Joint Session - Replacement
      in vitro human models to replace the use of animals in research
      11:00  -  13:00
      Joint Session - Zebrafish Welfare
      • Welfare Assessment
      • Severity Assessment
      • Characterisation of lines
      • Enrichment
      11:00  -  13:00
      UAR Session
      The Concordat on Openness commits signatories to be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out more about research using animals. Understanding Animal Research have been doing just that for more than 100 years.

      In this session, John Meredith, Head of Education and Outreach and Bella Williams, Head of Engagement, will explore some of the ways that UAR and other Concordat members have been successful in improving outreach to the general public and consider how to construct an effective public communications strategy.


      14:00  -  16:00
      Joint Workshop - Severity

      To review the process of assessing and reporting severity and examining the challenges of achieving consensus.

      EU Directive and ASPA (UK) requires the classification of procedures according to severity during the application for project licence. There is also a requirement to report the actual severity experienced by each animal used in a procedure. Both these processes provide opportunity to refine the adverse effects of procedures. Consistency of assignment of severity categories is required so that information provided is accurate and usable, often for communications on openness and transparency.  

      This will be an interactive workshop, which assumes a basic knowledge of prospective and actual severity assignment. You will review FELASA severity scenarios and hopefully improve your confidence in accurately assigning severity.   

      The session will be designed to be accessible to technicians, vets and scientists, but a basic knowledge of Prospective Severity Classification and Actual Severity Reporting is required before attendance.  Topics include: 

      • identifying the components within the procedures which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm
      • defining the adverse effects and mitigation
      • identifying appropriate end points assigning prospective severity classification
      • audience response session (Turning Point) to consider examples of actual severity assessment 

      NC3R's Session

      14:00  -  16:00
      NC3R's Session - New Technologies Which Advance Refinement and Science

      At the NC3Rs we lead the discovery and application of new models, tools and approaches that allow scientists to pursue their research goals whilst minimising animal use and suffering. This refinement-themed symposium will showcase new technologies that are transforming the way animal research is done, bringing significant benefits to animal welfare and science. From intelligent home cage systems that enable automated, continuous recording and analysis of the behaviour of individual mice and rats in the social group, to wireless tablet-based training of macaques in their enclosures, avoiding the need for social separation, restraint and fluid control.

      Ever wanted to accurately measure individual food intake in group-housed mice, or to capture their ultrasonic vocalisations to monitor welfare state and the impact of laboratory procedures – come along to find out how. Our grant holders and staff will be available to answer your questions about the power of these new technologies, the scientific discoveries they are enabling, and funding opportunities for 3Rs research and development. 



      Paper Presentations

      14:00  -  16:00
      Joint Session - Reproducibility
      • 1 hour presentations
      • 1 hour interactive sessions

      Joint Session - Bench to Bedside

      14:00  -  14:30
      Experimental models and tools to tackle brain cancer

      Glioblastoma (GBM) is one of the deadliest human cancers. Despite increasing knowledge of the genetic and epigenetic changes that underlie tumour growth, the prognosis for GBM patients remains dismal. Genome analysis has failed to lead to success in the clinic.  GBMs are inherently extremely challenging as tumour detection occurs too late, and cells infiltrate widely, hiding in quiescent states behind the blood brain barrier. The complexity of the brain tissue also provides varied microenvironments that influence distinct tumour cell fates. Despite this bleak outlook, there are reasons for optimism. A myriad of complementary, and increasingly sophisticated, experimental approaches can now be used across the research pipeline, from simple reductionist models, devised to delineate molecular and cellular mechanisms, to complex animal models required for preclinical testing of new therapeutic approaches.  No single model suffices to cover the breadth of challenges in GBM research. This review therefore aims to guide investigators in choosing the right model for their question. We also discuss the recent convergence of two key technologies: human stem cell/cancer stem cell culture and CRISPR/Cas tools for genome manipulation. This has opened up possibilities for sophisticated functional genetic approaches in patient-derived cells, which can fuel new discoveries, new target identification, and new therapeutic strategies to tackle GBM.


      14:00  -  16:00
      Joint Session - Bench to Bedside

      The term "bench to bedside" or translational medicine describes research that builds on basic scientific knowledge to create new therapies or treatments for disease. Advances in scientific technologies (Genomics, proteomics, CRISPR) as well as new ex vivo models have made significant contributions to progress in this field but in-vivo also work plays a vital part in this important area of research. The University of Edinburgh, along with many other establishments, is investigating a range of diseases that cause significant human suffering but currently have limited treatment options.

      In this session we will review some high profile examples of successes in translational research where animal models have played a pivotal role in recent advances in treatments and therapies.

      Bioresearch & Veterinary Services logo

      14:00  -  14:30
      Preventing Multiple Organ Failure in Acute Pancreatitis

      Inhibition of Kynurenine-3-monooxygenase as a Therapeutic Strategy for Preventing Multiple Organ Failure in Acute Pancreatitis.

      Acute pancreatitis (AP) is a devastating inflammatory condition in which local tissue injury in the pancreas triggers a powerful systemic inflammatory response. This surge in the immune response subsequently causes severe injury to extrapancreatic tissue such as the lung, gut and kidney. This is termed multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) and affects 1 in 4 AP patients. Individuals with AP-associated MODS (AP-MODS) require intensive critical care and have a mortality rate of 21%. Crucially, there are currently no specific therapies available to protect patients against AP-MODS.

      Metabolism of the essential amino acid tryptophan occurs via the kynurenine pathway and is regulated by the enzyme kynurenine-3-monooxygenase (KMO). We have shown that flux through KMO is central to the pathogenesis of AP-MODS due to the injurious effects of 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK), the product of this key enzyme. To explore the efficacy of KMO blockade as a therapeutic strategy in AP-MODS, we created a mouse strain which lacks KMO activity in all tissues and showed that these mice are protected from extrapancreatic injury to the lung, liver and kidney when challenged with experimental AP-MODS. This biochemical phenotype was replicated in an experimental rat model of AP whereby rats treated with inhibitors of KMO were also protected against extrapancreatic organ injury.

      Our findings establish KMO inhibition as a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of AP-MODS and enabled the transition of our novel small molecule KMO inhibitors, developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, into clinical development for translation into humans.


      Keynote Speaker

      16:30  -  17:30

      Translational Research In Heart Transplantation

      Click here for full abstract 



      Facility Tour

      17:45  -  18:45
      Edinburgh University Facility Tour
      Join us for a tour of animal facilities at the University of Edinburgh! This opportunity will be open to 30 delegates and will feature visiting a newly renovated facility cage wash (including robotics) and a tour of a recently completed 3000 cage capacity rodent facility (not yet occupied). It will be a great chance to explore the benefits and challenges of a new build compared to a renovation and to pick the brains of the team involved
    • 26 March, 2020


      09:00  -  10:45
      Joint Workshop - Welfare of mice on ageing studies
      As ageing is universally associated with a general and progressive decline in organ systems, there are some clinical/pathological manifestations that can be considered more or less typical in a given species or strain. As mice age many conditions develop slowly over extended periods of time and the body adapts to them. However, a moment comes when an animal shows clinical signs resulting from a decline in function that can no longer be compensated. In this workshop we will explore what these signs might be, how best to “grade” them and how best to tackle them. Another aspect we will explore is the interface between ageing and experimental aims. For example, how can we gauge the cumulative harm in mice that are being used to study the effects of age in the development of arthritis or of certain forms of cancer?

      not all about mice

      09:00  -  10:45
      It's not all about Mice!

      Historically, mice and rats have been the most popular in vivo research model because they have a short breeding cycle, are easy to handle, cheap to house and have a well-defined genetic background. Although rodents are still the most popular animal model of choice for most researchers there are advantages to using other species.

      In this session we will explore the use of non-rodent species in laboratory research, their contribution to advances in medicine, veterinary medicine and basic research and the challenges involved in working with non-rodent species. Presentations will include speakers who specialise in Large Animals, Seals and Poultry.


      Bioresearch & Veterinary Services logo

      09:00  -  10:45
      Understanding and improving resistance to infectious diseases in aquaculture species

      Aquaculture has a rapidly growing role in providing adequate fish and shellfish for human diets, and is particularly important for food security in developing countries. Infectious disease is a major constraint for all species produced via aquaculture. Since disease resistance is almost universally heritable, there is huge potential to select for improved resistance to key diseases, including via genomic selection. The high fecundity of aquaculture species, together with the plausibility of early-life in-vivo disease challenges provides an opportunity for powerful genetic studies to understand the functional basis of disease resistance. This includes the potential of genome editing tools for mapping causative variation underlying disease resistance traits. This presentation will give an overview of research targeting understanding and improvement of genetic resistance to disease in aquaculture at the University of Edinburgh. This will include the availability of new research facilities, and collaborative opportunities. The application of such research in the aquaculture industry to improve health and welfare of farmed fish and shellfish will also be discussed.



      Paper Presentations

      09:00  -  10:45
      Animal Research Nexus Sponsored Session
      The role of publics in animal research: Is the aim for understanding, engagement or involvement?

      Scientists, animal technicians, veterinary surgeons, and others are increasingly engaging with the public around animal research. This includes taking part in school visits, hosting facility tours, giving media interviews, and participating in art events, citizen science programmes, ethics committees, or patient conferences. Indeed, research engagement is now a key part of many scientific funding programmes. This is supported by a growing openness agenda, with many organisations having dedicated officers working on public initiatives, and via more formal lay involvement in research and ethical review. However, there are still many questions about what public involvement and engagement with animal research is expected to achieve, how it is carried out, whom it involves, and how it is evaluated.

      This session is organised by the Animal Research Nexus programme (, an interdisciplinary team funded by the Wellcome Trust. We will draw on our collaborative work to contextualise the rise of public engagement and demonstrate how using different methods creates the conditions for different kinds of conversations around animal research. We will do this by showcasing a range of experimental practices in our research, including, for example, the use of immersive theatre, work in the Mass Observation Archive, engagement around material objects, lay roles within ethics committees, and patient involvement with animal research. The session will both provide practical information on these different methods and encourage more critical reflection on the how, when and why of public engagement, considering whether and when the aim is to share expertise, develop empathy, or to cultivate understanding.
      09:00  -  10:45
      UFAW Sponsored Session
      Measuring and Refining Animal Welfare – is the Evidence Good Enough?

      In this interactive session we will review a number of recent developments in animal welfare science which promise to improve the welfare of laboratory animals either by offering better ways to assess welfare or to refine the use of laboratory animals. Most importantly, we will examine how good the evidence for these various animal welfare measures and refinements is and whether it is adequate to adopt them into routine practice. If not, what might we need to do to gather the evidence to support or reject their adoption? What might be the consequences of adopting a poorly validated measure or refinement? If the evidence is inadequate how should we go about improving the evidence?

      The audience will have an opportunity to participate by deciding at various points whether they consider the evidence for various measures or refinements is acceptable.


      11:15  -  13:15
      Joint Workshop - GA Breeding
      • Best practice in the basics of GA mice and breeding

      Paper Presentations

      11:15  -  13:15
      AAALAC Sponsored Session

      From Quality Animal Care and Use Programs to Quality Animal Research

      Much is being said about the problems on reproducibility and translatability of animal research. Among the multiple factors potentially impacting the outcome of animal research, animal care and use aspects are essential, as they define the framework for the research being conducted. Different quality level of institutional assigned program responsibilities, ethical review and oversight processes, training and competence of personnel, animal environment and husbandry practices, veterinary care programs, and animal facility operations may significantly impact the quality of animal research. In this session, several perspectives and initiatives to link quality of animal programs and quality of research will be presented, including an Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) project; the importance of communication between key program individuals/groups; and the implementation of quality and accreditation programs in a UK research institute.

      Thomas Steckler (Janssen). EQIPD: a pan-european project linking quality in animal care and use with quality of non-regulated preclinical research

      Javier Guillen (AAALAC). The importance of internal communication for the efficiency of the animal care and use program

      Mark Gardiner (Mary Lyon). Towards quality animal research in a UK research institution

      11:15  -  13:15
      European Perspective
      11:15  -  13:15
      RSPCA Sponsored Session
      Working together to make your AWERB … superb

      The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) plays a vital role in helping to ensure a good Culture of Care that reflects, and shapes, the establishment’s local values and perspectives. The AWERB’s tasks are well defined, and there is good guidance on how to implement these. The AWERB is now well established in its 8th year of operation, the Animals in Science Committee Hub Network is operating more effectively, and membership of the online Knowledge Hub is increasing.

      However, there is still room for improvement with respect to a number of issues, such as communication and liaison between the AWERB and relevant bodies (and individuals) within the establishment. Other areas that require further development include achieving support from senior management, securing adequate resources to address all of the AWERB’s tasks, and implementing induction and training for both members and chairs.

      This RSPCA session will bring animal technologists, scientists, managers, named persons, veterinarians and others together to discuss how they can combine efforts and help the AWERB to work more effectively and gain more support and resources. This should provide benefits for animal welfare, the science, the establishment’s culture, and public accountability.

      Participants will identify new liaisons and ways of working with a range of colleagues to further support and empower their AWERBs. The session will include presentations and interactive discussion, and participants will be encouraged to draw up action plans to take back to their establishments.
      14:00  -  15:00
      Home Office Session

      Keynote Speaker

      15:30  -  16:45

      A Horrible History of Anaesthetics and Analgesics in Animal Experimentation

      For full abstract Click Here


      Paper Presentations

      16:45  -  17:15
      CLOSE OF AST 2020