Laboratory Animal Science (B-KUL-E05E6A)

5.0 ECTS English 40.0 First termFirst term Basic Cannot be taken as part of an examination contract
POC Biomedische wetenschappen

Laboratory Animal Science is a multidisciplinary field that contributes to the quality of research and especially to the wellbeing of the laboratory animals.
The students gain knowledge into the different aspects of laboratory animals (housing, caretaking, genetic and microbial quality control, anesthesia and analgesia, feeding, experimental techniques, etc.). The students are also able to apply this knowledge and thus contribute to the reliability and reproducibility of the results of animal experiments and to the life quality of laboratory animals that are used for research. Finally the students will learn how to handle laboratory animals in a responsible manner.

Basic knowledge of biology is required.


4.0 ects. Laboratory Animal Science (B-KUL-E05E6a)

4.0 ECTSEnglishFormat: Lecture30.0First termFirst term
POC Biomedische wetenschappen

Topics of Laboratory Animal Science: Legislation, Working safely with laboratory animals, Zootechnique of different species, Housing of laboratory animals, Hygiene and microbiological standardisation, Anaesthesie, analgesia and euthanasia, Behaviour of laboratory animals and well-being, Genetic standardisation and transgenesis, Feeding of laboratory animals, Using alternative methods, Ethics and laboratory animals, Experimental and surgical techniques. Practical part of the course: Ethical Committee project and Work shop "handling small laboratory animals"

In the introduction and historical overview you'll get an idea about the historical evolution of the use of laboratory animals. You will learn which kind of animals are used and in which research domains they are used.
We will explain important aspects of the Belgian and European legislation on the use of animals. The composition and the functioning of the Ethical Committee are important topics.
In the chapter zootechnique we will give special interest to the housing, caretaking and breeding of different species (rodents, rabbit, xenopus, zebrafish, pig). We will discuss the main anatomical and physiological characteristics per species.
The importance of the cage environment (temperature, ventilation, etc) and of cage enrichment for the welfare of the animals, different types of cages, special housing and transport of the animals, is treated in the chapter of housing. Furthermore, we will discuss the significance of hygiene and disinfecting and microbiological quality control, especially in a SPF-facility.
Genetic standardisation, treating topics like inbred- and outbred strains, specific breeding systems and genetic quality control, is an introduction to the chapter of transgenesis in vertebrates.
Health control of laboratory animals, setting a diagnosis, the most important pathogens and their interference with research, quarantine and disease management, are part of the chapter pathology and microbiological standardisation.
The principal of the 3 "R's", meaning "Replacement, Reducing and Refining" of laboratory animals and animal use, is an important issue that is abundantly treated in the chapter of alternatives for animal use. In this chapter we will discuss different possible alternative methods, with their advantages and disadvantages.
Species-specific behavior and the ethogram are used to recognise and assess pain. Furthermore we will propose different possibilities for anesthesia and analgesia and treat several methods for euthanasia. Also the setting-up of humane endpoints and the wellbeing of lab animals is an item.
The chapter experimental techniques gives an overview of different methods for taking blood and for the administration of substances, the identification of animals and surgical techniques, like aseptic techniques, instruments, etc.
The feeding needs and feeding systems and the possible effects of feeding on experimental results, are discussed in the chapter of laboratory animal's feeding.
The aspect of working safely with laboratory animals, especially bite- and scratch wounds, zoonoses, allergy, working with chemicals and biosafety, are discussed profoundly, as is working under GLP.
We will also discuss the ethical aspects of laboratory animals research and the use of statistical methods in animal research.
Besides the theory, there is also a practical part, where you will learn how to manipulate an animal in a proper way. You will also be able to test your theoretical knowledge in case studies.

A syllabus is available on Toledo and via Medica's student syllabus service. This text is a faithful reproduction of the theoretical lectures. Also, the Powerpoint slides are available on Toledo.

Students follow the lectures attentively and participate in discussions. A number of demonstrations are given during the lecture with the aid of multimedia.

1.0 ects. Laboratory Animal Science: Seminars (B-KUL-E05E7a)

1.0 ECTSEnglishFormat: Practical10.0First termFirst term
POC Biomedische wetenschappen

The students receive a project application for the Ethical Committee for Animal Experiments and discuss the application as if they are members of the Ethical Committee. When they have formed an opinion about the methods used in the project, the animal welfare, the pain score, anaesthesia and euthanasia, postoperative care, … the findings of the group are brought together in a report. During the last lesson, all the groups that have discussed the same project, compare their reports and discuss about their opinions. Some extra questions need to be answered in a small report.
During the workshop "handling of small animals", students learn how to manipulate and restrain an animal in a proper way.


Active participation in the discussions concerning ethical aspects of a project involving animal experiments; active participation in the writing of the report. Active participation during the workshop "handling small animals".


Evaluation : Laboratory Animal Science (B-KUL-E25E6a)

Type : Partial or continuous assessment with (final) exam during the examination period
Description of evaluation : Participation during contact hours, Oral, Report
Type of questions : Open questions
Learning material : None

The exam consists of 5 questions evenly divided over the course topics.
A minimum of 60 minutes is provided for written preparation of the exam. During the oral examination, the answers to the questions will be reviewed and the student will receive another 3 to 4 questions about topics that were not addressed in the 5 previous questions. The exam counts for 18 of the total 20 points.

Practical Session:
There is one practical session, concerning the handling of small animals.
Participation in the practical session is obligatory.
Students who did not participate in the practical session will not obtain the certificate, but can pass the exam.

The students will get an assignment, in which they will have to evaluate a project (ethical aspects, animal use, anesthesia, etc) in group. They will have to write a report about this project. During the last lesson, the groups who have reviewed the same project, will compare their reports. During this session, some last questions will have to be answered and submitted. The report counts for 2 of the total 20 points.
The report is obligatory. Students who did not submit the report will not obtain the certificate, but can pass the exam.

When students have passed the exam in January, but haven't participated at the workshop or haven't submitted the report, they get a chance to do this later. Only when these two conditions have been met, the student will receive the certificate.

When students haven't passed the exam in January, the exam (that they need to retake) is identical to the previous exam.