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Improving the Design and Analysis of Animal Experiments: A Personal Odyssey

Michael F.W. Festing

Everybody’s career depends on many chance factors: the people one meets, the opportunities which are available, or the state of a scientific discipline. Mine is no exception. I started out in agriculture, obtained a PhD in quantitative genetics, and spent most of my career concerned with the use of animals in biomedical research. Soon after I joined the Medical Research Council Laboratory Animals Centre in 1966, as their geneticist in charge of many species and strains of laboratory animals, I was introduced to Russell and Burch’s book, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. It had a significant effect on my future, which has encompassed two related themes: the need for better experimental design, and the conviction that, in most research, inbred strains of rats and mice should normally be used in preference to genetically undefined outbred stocks. The establishment of the FRAME Reduction Committee has helped me to pursue both of these, although toxicologists continue to ignore basic design principles, by using outbred stocks.
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