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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Refinement Program



Joanne Zurlo

Coordinator: Joanne Zurlo (

The CAAT Refinement Program is based on the premise that even with a gradual transition to a human toxicology that relies less on animal testing and more on human cells and tissues, there is still a considerable of research and testing that does and will continue to rely on the use of animals. Thus CAAT, as a Three Rs Center, deems refinement to be important as well as replacement. CAAT’s Refinement Program provides information to stakeholders with a special section on Refinement on the AltWeb site ( In this section, all aspects of pain and distress are covered, including humane endpoints, anesthesia, and analgesia. There is also a section on enrichment with a number of links to readings and resources on the subject. 

Another aspect of the Refinement Program includes coordination of workshops focused on specific refinement issues. In particular, CAAT has cosponsored three workshops on Social Housing of Laboratory Animals in the US and several workshops on Refinement issues in Europe. The focus of these workshops is to highlight current topics in refinement and identify mechanisms for improving animal welfare across the board.

Another way CAAT promotes refinement is through our Science-based Refinement Awards. The focus of these awards is to improve housing, handling and/or experimental situations for laboratory animals. These small grants are intended for those who actually work hands-on with the animals, such as veterinarians and animal care technicians. These awards have an impact well beyond the recipients themselves. Past awardees have been able to publish their results in laboratory animal publications, and have received grants from other organizations to continue their work. In addition, these awards are doubly rewarding for those who identify better, more humane methods because they feel they are truly contributing to better animal welfare. Awardees have spread the word to broader audiences as well. Award recipients have presented their findings at PRIM&R (Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research) conferences designed for those involved with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees and at AALAS annual meetings.

Recent Refinement Program Updates

National AALAS Meeting – October 30 – November 2, 2016 Charlotte, NC

CAAT hosted a booth at the National Meeting following Joanne Zurlo’s presentation at the Southern New England branch of AALAS meeting on September 29. CAAT’s Science-based Refinement Awards and the 10th World Congress in Seattle broadly advertised.

Third Symposium on Social Housing of Laboratory - UC Davis, March 17-18, 2016

  • Meeting was cosponsored by NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), NIH Division of Veterinary Resources, Hopkins SOM Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology and USDA.
  • Continuing Education credits offered through RACE for the symposium
  • Attendance was about 100 people
  • Feedback was extremely positive
  • Next meeting planned for April 2017 in Atlanta in conjunction with primate behaviorist meeting.

Refinement Session at the Pan American Conference - April 17-18, 2016

  • Social Housing as an Optimal Refinement for Laboratory Animal Welfare – J. Zurlo
  • The Effect of Stress of Platelet Activation and Function – Kelly Metcalf Pate
  • Methods Development for Co-housing Male CD1 (ICR) Mice – Renee Hukkanen
  • The C. Elegans Model in Toxicity Testing – Piper Hunt 

New Applications Received for the 2017 Science-based Refinement Awards

Call for Nominations for Charles River – CAAT Excellence in Refinement Award to be awarded at WC10 in Seattle.