Veterinarians Logan France and Katie Chambers have joined the University Research Animal Resources team, which provides clinical care for animals used in research studies and teaching. URAR is part of the UGA Office of Research’s animal care and use program, which is accredited by AAALAC International, registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and maintains an assurance with the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Drs. France and Chambers bring additional depth to our program, in particular in nonhuman primate medicine, research animal advocacy, general clinical medicine, infectious diseases and biocontainment,” said M.A. McCrackin, director of URAR. “New ideas and energy are so welcome for any animal research enterprise, and critically so now during COVID fatigue.”
Prior to joining UGA in May, France earned a D.V.M. at Texas A&M University, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, achieved specialty board certification in laboratory animal medicine, and served as a clinical assistant professor at Vanderbilt University. At UGA she spends half her time with non-human primates and the other half with species including rodents, dogs, cats and gerbils.
“My main responsibility is clinical care of the research animals and working with investigators to support their work and optimize their research,” she said. “I help them figure out how to do a study most efficiently and which animal model to use, troubleshoot problems that come up, provide general vet care needed for animals, and work with vet students.”
France is passionate about advocacy for animal research. Her father is an investigator who works with nonhuman primates, and she founded Biomedical Research Awareness Day, an educational event that seeks to educate the community about the importance of animal research.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what actually happens in animal research, and people don’t appreciate the need for it,” she said. “I think COVID has done a good job of showing us how important science is, but I don’t think we took advantage of all the opportunities to say, ‘Hey, these vaccines are here because of these animals. And it’s not a year of work, it’s decades of work that have contributed to the vaccine development that is now saving lives.’”
Chambers earned a D.V.M. at Louisiana State University and completed a Ph.D. and residency at the University of Missouri before joining UGA in August. In addition to taking on veterinary care at a facility that houses cats, lizards, fish, ferrets, hamsters and rats, she’s working to get ready for a new facility that will include pigs in a model of infectious disease. This means devising safety procedures for a new physical facility and for a novel experiment in collaboration with the investigator and facility supervisor, while also making sure that UGA and federal requirements are met.
“My major area of interest is in biocontainment and infectious disease research,” Chambers said.
“Just yesterday, we were talking about bringing in more new species. It’s constantly evolving as the researchers find new needs,” she said. “Researchers have a question, and they know a lot about their subject, but they may not know the model to use, or they may not know husbandry or how best to care for those animals. Our job is really to facilitate the ability for them to answer those big research questions, provide all of the animal knowledge to back it up, and ensure the welfare of the animals in our care.”
In addition to France, Chambers and McCrackin, the URAR veterinarians include Stephen Harvey and Gina Kim.