A Global Approach to Building a Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT) Program for Research Animals


Description of research: There is growing recognition of the use of PRT as a valuable tool to improve the care and management of research animals and facilitate their participation in research protocols. PRT programs across Pfizer sites have primarily focused on nonhuman primates and have included activities such as voluntary presentation of limbs for blood collection, stationing at the front of the cage while telemetry devices are turned on or off, and pressing sipper valves to verify proper function. In 2014, Pfizer Comparative Medicine established a global PRT Team to align and expand the PRT programs at each site. Building a global team allowed those sites with experienced animal trainers to share their knowledge, creating a resource to harmonize and expand the use of PRT. Based on approved guiding principles, the global PRT team created a team charter that established a purpose and mission, provided a scope for the team, and created a phased approach for program development and deliverables. The team’s achievements included identifying training efforts across all Pfizer sites, creating a global website resource for information related to Pfizer’s PRT programs, creating a PRT terminology reference document, standardizing PRT provisions in various regulatory documents, and creating a formal process for new animal training projects that will include review and input from the global team.  Our next steps will include developing a program to train staff and increasing technician time for PRT activities, allowing us to expand on the work we are currently doing. 

Outcomes: The creation of this global team, which pulls together, as needed, to create PRT plans and provide expertise to solve training problems has provided additional resources for all sites, created a format to look for innovative ways that PRT can be used to improve animal welfare, and has been critical in creating a foundation to ensure harmonization and excellence for the growing PRT program at Pfizer.