BPRC ‘supplies’ new Utrecht University professor

13 Dec 2018 | Back to News, Publications and Annual Reports

Jan Langermans appointed chair of Laboratory Animal Welfare

Utrecht University has named BPRC's Jan Langermans Professor by Special Appointment of Laboratory Animal Welfare, a newly created chair within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Animals, Science and Society. Langermans will continue to work at BPRC, spending one day a week at Utrecht as from 1 November 2018 to ‘expand and share’ his vision on the welfare of laboratory animals.

'Jan Langermans is a world-renowned animal welfare expert and a leading Dutch authority on lab animal welfare', said Prof. Hans Heesterbeek, head of UU's Department of Animals, Science and Society in this university press release (Dutch).

Expressing his pleasure at the appointment, the newly minted chair stated: 'Laboratory animals are still needed both in veterinary and biomedical research, as well as for teaching veterinary students. However, conditions have to be optimal for the animals' welfare – that's important both for the animals themselves, and for the research. My job will be to expand knowledge about this and share it with students and researchers'.

Lab animals deserve explicit spotlight

Previously, UU had a combined chair in Animal Welfare and Laboratory Animal Use, which has now been split up across several chairs within the domain of animal and lab animal welfare. The new chair to which Langermans has been appointed ties in with the scientific and societal mission that the faculty has set itself to promote animal welfare, in part through the training it provides future veterinarians and researchers. An active animal welfare section will contribute to this aim.

Concerning the faculty's mission, Hans Heesterbeek explained, 'Our focus is on all animals, but particularly those that are significant for humans and human activities. Within that focus, lab animals deserve an explicit spotlight which was lacking at the chair level. I'm pleased we have that now.'

Excellent reputation

That the new professor was appointed from the ranks of BPRC is hardly a coincidence: our institute has an excellent reputation when it comes to knowledge, colony management, and accommodating and looking after animals. We also apply sophisticated methods to minimise the discomfort experienced by animals and have a transparent policy on animal welfare, all premised on the principle that our primates deserve the most comfortable lives we can give them, with a minimum of stress and pain. This philosophy is borne out in our spacious enclosures, extensive enrichments and refined training methods.

Spearheading animal welfare awareness

Dr Jan Langermans (b. 9 May 1960) obtained a degree in biology from Utrecht University in 1987 and his PhD (cum laude) from Leiden University five years later. Having joined BPRC in 2008, he has served as deputy director since 2014, while also publishing more than 94 scientific articles and taking part in several European research consortia. Langermans already teaches Master's programmes in biology at Utrecht and in laboratory animal science at Leiden.

As Professor by Special Appointment at UU, Langermans wants to make raising awareness about animal welfare a priority in teaching. 'Many people have only a partial sense of the activities being deployed and developed on this front, so I want to share that knowledge – not only as part of the curriculum, but across the research spectrum. What's more, reaching out to political and public groups and getting them involved is vital to this end. I want to use my position to contribute to that to the greatest possible extent.'

Click here to read Utrecht University's full press release (Dutch) on Jan Langermans' appointment as chair of Laboratory Animal Welfare.