Teklad diet, bedding and enrichment

Tina Herfel, PhD

Nutritionist, Teklad Diets

Specialities

+ Animal nutrition
+ Custom research diets
+ Animal welfare

How long have you worked at Envigo?

I've worked with Envigo since 2011.

Which department do you work in?

I work in Teklad Diets, the department within Envigo responsible for producing diets – both standard and customized - for laboratory animals. As a nutritionist, I work with researchers to identify diets, or to create new diet formulations, that best answer their specific research question.

What are your individual responsibilities?

As a nutritionist, my primary responsibilities involve collaborating with researchers to design custom diets to answer their specific research questions. This is a collaborative effort that can be very rewarding. I get to use my background and expertise to improve study design, to promote the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) of animal research and to help researchers make good diet decisions.

What is an absolute 'must have' in your role?

My background in nutrition, and my interest in creating animal models that translate to human clinical outcomes, have been very helpful in my work as a laboratory nutritionist. Custom diets are very much a research product, and so it is important to continually be looking for ways to improve what we do, and the ways we do them, so that we are always delivering the best service possible to our customers. 

What are the best parts of your job?

I really enjoy using my knowledge of nutrition to help researchers develop diets that are able to effectively answer their specific research questions. I feel like I’m able to make a real contribution when I advise on diet options for other researchers. I also feel like I am making a positive impact on animal welfare in designing diets that help reduce confounding dietary variables. This often leads to a refining of a study design, as well as reducing the number of study groups required.

Why science?

I’ve always been interested in animals. When I was in high school, I was able to work in a nutrition lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was hooked on animal nutrition.

What are the best parts of your job?

I really enjoy using my knowledge of nutrition to help researchers develop diets that are able to effectively answer their specific research questions. I feel like I’m able to make a real contribution when I advise on diet options for other researchers. I also feel like I am making a positive impact on animal welfare in designing diets that help reduce confounding dietary variables. This often leads to a refining of a study design, as well as reducing the number of study groups required.

Why Envigo?

Teklad is unique in that our nutrition team supports both standard and customized laboratory animal diets. I think this is a huge advantage, because we can assist our customers’ vivarium in identifying standard diets that are formulated to limit potentially confounding dietary effects and to promote long-term health of your animals. When required, we are also able to work directly with individual researchers from the same institute to formulate specialized diets for answering specific research questions. Our customers really appreciate the benefit of this approach for them, as it means they are working with one dedicated department, instead of many different and separate departments in a number of organizations.

What do you like doing outside work?

I really enjoy living in Madison. There are many unique opportunities to take advantage of the outdoors here. It’s a great city and county, with many lakes, state parks, a free zoo and many local farmer’s markets. Outside of work I take advantage of our unique area, enjoying time outdoors with family and friends – boating, hiking, swimming - and just taking in all that the area has to offer.

If you have a question for Tina or you're interested in learning more about our laboratory animal diet capabilities, please contact us.

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