Areas of expertise
+ United Kingdom Legislation
+ Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1976 (ASPA)
+ Transport of animals EU Regulation 1/2005
+ Import and export of laboratory animals and products
+ Animal welfare
+ Laboratory animal legislation and regulation compliance
+ Licensing and ethics assistance
+ Customer support
What are your responsibilities at Envigo?
My main responsibility is to ensure Envigo’s compliance with UK legislation. This encompasses answering legislation related questions and queries related to the licensing of our animal areas plus project and personal licenses, all of which are critical to the business. Another legal necessity is the operation of our internal Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body or AWERB. Other key responsibilities are liaising with stakeholder groups and working with the UK Government on the transport of animals and legislation requirements. I have extensive knowledge of the requirements associated with importing and/or exporting live animals or products and am heavily involved in ensuring Brexit does not have a negative impact on the business.
What inspired you to pursue a career in science?
My career started in the Technical Services Department at Serotec – a spin off from OLAC. Serotec specialized in monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. After several years, a positioned opened up and I started work at OLAC, which was a Harlan company at the time.
UK Home Office legislation was becoming more robust and required licenses, I became involved in this new area. I was asked to take on the role of Hon Secretary for the Laboratory Animal Breeders Association (LABA), a role I still hold, with the same for the European sister organization (FELABA). Working with representatives from the other UK breeders, we were involved in both UK and European legislation, including transport issues and the revision of the cage sizes and stocking densities. Both company and LABA support inspired me to become more involved and I was lucky enough to be part of the group who reviewed the drafts for the 2005 EU Transport Directive and the new ASPA Guidance and Codes of Practice to ensure they were written in layman terms.
I have found the role challenging at times, as there is a lot to learn and legislation changes all the time. I am highly motivated by the satisfaction of a ‘job well done’ and am fortunate to work with some fabulous people, both inside and outside Envigo. We all aspire to have high standards for animal welfare and ensure work is carried out to a high level. This is one of the reasons why I’m still here after 30 years. The animals we breed go on to fulfill an important role in Academia and Pharma and have assisted in the creation of many drugs and vaccines for both humans and animals. This makes it all worthwhile.
What are some of the key attributes of being successful in your role?
Key attributes include attention to detail, time management, and networking. Networking has become critical over the years; knowing who to talk to and maintaining that contact can sometimes open doors to get things done. This is especially true with Governmental departments. I have established a network of people that I know to contact to ask a question, get advice, or be pointed in another direction to get the job done.
What are the best parts of your job?
There is not one particular area because every day is different and something may arise that requires urgent attention or a response. It keeps my work interesting and challenging.
Which career achievements make you proud?
I know I’ve established a good reputation at work and in the industry. I’m proud of so many different things I’ve done over the years — learning about both UK and EU legislation, importing and exporting, board membership of the European Animal Research Association (EARA) and as a Council Member, now Vice President of the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA), my involvement with the Home Office, ASPA Guidance, Codes of Practice and now the new Home Office computer system ASPeL. I also co-chair the LASA Home Office Liaison (HOLTIF) group – this group represents all the establishments in the UK with the Home Office, operationally and as a self-help group.
I unexpectedly received the 2019 Understanding Animal Research (UAR) Concordat Award for Openness on Animal Research. It was incredible to be recognized for my work encouraging Envigo and companies in our industry to be more open in helping the public understand the importance of animal research and what happens in our facilities.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of Envigo?
I enjoy horse riding and am lucky enough to ride locally in the countryside, a hobby I have pursued off and on since I was 18 years old. I love it and it’s my weekly relaxation. I also do Pilates and read a lot — mostly good mysteries.
Please contact us if you have questions for Val or would like to learn more about our veterinary science department.