By John DeLeonardis, Director, SoBran BioScience

Last month, I joined members of the Greater Virginia Branch of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (GVB-AALAS) for our summer meeting. The chapter is only a year old, but its growth is a mark of how much the bioscience community in the region is expanding. While Maryland and North Carolina have long been known as centers for the biomed community, Virginia is coming into its own. The meeting was a great chance for members from across the landscape of bioscience to connect with one other, from academic institutions and research labs, to local companies supporting the industry, and really see how much diverse bioscience activity there is in Virginia.

The speakers were both educational and thought provoking. First, from an industry perspective, Karen Froberg-Fejko from BioServ discussed how environmental enrichment can be incorporated into research protocols and how much it actually costs in the grand scheme of a research project (not as much as many may think). She gave ideas on how to communicate the cost-benefits of proper enrichment to investigators that may be considering alternatives driven by cost alone.

Then, Paul McKellips joined us. A reporter, author, and producer with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and numerous awards under his belt, Paul’s work brings the need for biomedical research to life for an audience that often misunderstands its nature and importance. He inspired the AALAS group to feel proud of the work we do as researchers and technicians in the animal research field.

I left the meeting very excited about growth for the research industry in Virginia, and the commitment of my fellow AALAS members to ensuring animal health and well-being in the work that we do.