This past year has been a busy year with the return to a full three days in-person Annual Meeting planning to celebrate LASA’s 60th Anniversary. LASA Exec has been very involved with all the preparations, and despite some early challenges sorting out venues, we were very pleased to host this year’s Annual Meeting at Hinxton Hall Conference Centre. I would like to thank Jill, Clare and Sally for all their unconditional support and encouragement throughout this past year dealing with all the preparations. I would also like to thank the support from Council members and the Section Convenors for all their input for the scientific programme, organising the themes and speakers for their sessions, acting as Chairs, and supporting the logistical planning.
An excellent group of headline speakers were lined up for this year’s meeting. Frances Wiseman, UK DRI Programme Leader for Animal Models at UK Dementia delivered an excellent opening keynote lecture entitled “Fundamental discovery science: enabling translation of animal research to further understand and develop therapies for dementia-causing diseases”. Hazel Screen, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, at Queen Mary’s University London (QMUL), Director of the UK-wide Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network and Co-Director of the QMUL Centre for Predictive in vitro Models and the QMUL-Emulate Organ-Chip Centre who delivered the closing keynote lecture entitled “Exploring alternatives in pre-clinical testing: the opportunities and challenges of working with in vitro models”.
The different sections collectively provided a very engaging scientific programme, and this year’s meeting also included a Training and Education session to promote further engagement with early career researchers and lab animal professionals, a specific session for Trade talks, and a session focussing on the role of the NIO supported by the HOLTIF group. As part of the LASA ethos to promote best care and welfare innovations, talks on technology, outreach activities and a 3Rs-focussed discussion were set up to promote strategic discussion on 3Rs innovations and how our community can support the ongoing development of new approach methodologies. Many thanks to all the speakers and attendees for their supportive engagement during these sessions.
A new session on the Future of Laboratory Animal Communication, supported by Laboratory Animals Ltd (LAL, https://lal.org.uk/) was led by Fiona Fox from the Science Media Centre; it reflected on public and academic perceptions, and effective communication on animal research. We are very grateful to LAL for supporting the 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting.
An important and very engaging part of the meeting was the 3Rs presentations selected from an open call for innovative work addressing the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement principles led by the 3Rs Section. This session was kindly supported by the NC3Rs providing bursaries for speakers to attend and present at the meeting. Many congratulations to Jasmine M Clarkson, who received the prize for best talk from this session.
Sophie Kimpton and Jamie Redden from the LASA Comms Team led an excellent programme for local sixth-form and technology college students in the Public Engagement Session. The engagement of this section has been extraordinary in this last year – excellent work.
Finally, I am very grateful for the support from Agenda providing LASA’s Secretariat Services, in particular to Mandy Holtby who has taken on board most of the administrative preparations of the meeting, supported by the excellent leadership of Stuart Lamming. This has not been the easiest year with many changes and a few challenges, but they have always been extremely supportive and committed to LASA, and I am very grateful to all for their support. I am very much looking forward to organising our Annual Meeting in 2024.
Chair of Scientific Programme