Staff Interview: WaNPRC Veterinarians

The Washington National Primate Research Center supports outstanding research directed towards significant human health issues and nonhuman primate health and biology. In order to accomplish this mission, we carefully monitor the health and well-being of our animals. We are proud of the high quality animal care that is provided by our personnel. The BioBulletin newsletter will include interviews with various staff to help explain their roles in the Center’s scientific mission.

The following are interviews with two of our supervisory veterinarians, who are tasked with leading our animal care program.


Interview with Dr. Lane, DVM

What is your roll as a veterinarian at the Center?

food enrichment preparation at the Washington National Primate Research Center.

Veterinarian technician prepares treats for enrichment at the Washington National Primate Research Center.

As a primate Veterinarian I look out for the health and well-being of our animals. They deserve the best possible care and I strive to provide that to them. I work with many groups to accomplish that goal including our animal care staff, veterinary technicians, behavioral management group and research support staff. Veterinarians provide preventative health care such as twice yearly physical exams with routine blood work as well as surgical and emergency care. Working with primates is always challenging and interesting and no two days are ever the same. We try to develop inventive ways to deliver their medications and provide them with healthy treats which they almost always appreciate!

How do you support the research conducted at the Primate Center?

As a Supervisory Veterinarian, I help to ensure we have adequate staff and resources to provide anesthesia support for the projects as well as general clinical care for the nonhuman primates enrolled in studies. I am available to the PI’s to consult on upcoming projects and assist with study design and planning. I also participate by providing surgical, clinical and after hours support. I am passionate about the research and proud to have been a part of some very important advances in healthcare.

What challenges are you working to overcome?

It is always a challenge to meet ever increasing demand for personnel resources. The Vet Staff are experts at being two places at once!

In what ways are you improving operational efficiency?

Team building and cross-training are critical to having a program that can run smoothly under any circumstances. I have enjoyed working with staff members from many different areas of the center towards these goals. I am also working closely with our Associate Director, IT staff and other teams on upgrades to our electronic record system. These improvements will save our Vet Staff valuable time that can be better devoted to caring for the animals.

What are your vet-related goals for 2016 and the future?

I hope to continue to expand our capabilities by recruiting highly qualified candidates to the Center. Equally as important is promoting continuing education and training opportunities for our staff. Ultimately, our goal every day is to do the very best we can do for these animals and continue supporting the important work we do here at the Center.

What should Center personnel and the public know about animal care at the Primate Center?

The people that care for the animals at the center are highly dedicated and compassionate individuals. Their 24/7 commitment to the well-being of these animals is critical to the ultimate goal of finding cures and saving lives. It is truly a labor of love that the public does not get the opportunity to hear a lot about.

Is there anything else that you’d like to say in the BioBulletin newsletter?

I have had the opportunity to work at other National Primate Research Centers during my career and I am proud to be back in the family again. The work done here is critical to our global health and I want everyone to understand the level of compassionate care that goes into it. It takes remarkable people to take care of these very special animals.

Interview with Dr. Barras, DVM

What is your roll as a veterinarian at the Center?

Waffle cone filled with treats for the animals at the Washington National Primate Reseach Center.

Treats ready for the animals and include: grapes, seeds, raisins, coconut, and a special granola fruit blend served in a waffle cone.

My primary role as a veterinarian is to safeguard the processes the Center has put into place to ensure the welfare of the animals within its facilities. While part of this role includes acting in the capacity of a clinical veterinarian, the majority of my time is dedicated to making sure that the environment in which the animals live not only meet the regulatory standards, but also meet the high standards for animal care that is set forth by the Center. In short, my role as a veterinarian at the Center is to be an advocate for the animals housed within the facilities.

What challenges are you working to overcome?

One of the biggest challenges that I face is that of communication. While this is a very broad challenge it impacts animal health on a daily basis. Here are a few examples. The first being simple communication regarding animal needs. We are currently in the process of modeling the quickest and most reliable way to communicate a need of an animal or group of animals from the person who recognizes that need to the person who can take action and accomplish the task.

A second example would be data retention and subsequent viewing or sorting. Just as there has been an initiative in human medical record keeping to have better access to ensure physicians are fully informed about a patient’s history so that the best decisions can be made for that patient, so is it with animal record keeping. It is paramount that animal records are easily accessible at all times so that veterinarians and staff members are fully informed to make the best decisions for the welfare of each animal. The information technology unit of the Primate Center spends countless hours every week to ensure that the staff has all the needed information at the tip of their fingers.

In what ways are you improving operational efficiency?

Streamlining decision making and communication will allow for the largest positive impact on animal welfare.

What are your vet-related goals for 2016 and the future?

My primary goal for 2016 is to construct a state of the art animal holding and breeding building at the Arizona facility.

What should Center personnel and the public know about animal care at the Primate Center?

While the Primate Center has some of the highest standards for animal care, it is the staff members who interact with these animals every day that make these standards come to life. An institution can have the best rules and regulations, but it requires a knowledgeable, caring and dedicated staff to achieve achieve success in animal care.