The in-life phase of studies provides scientists with essential information to help understand how the chemical compound works and to estimate the safe amount to be given to humans.
Throughout this time the welfare of the animals involved is paramount. Regulated by the Institute of Animal Technology, animal technicians have a clearly defined set of values. They must be convinced that there is a proper purpose to the studies - the alleviation of human or animal suffering. Thus there must be a balance between the desire to care for animals and the acceptance of their use for pharmaceutical research.
Animal technicians can work with a wide range of professionals, including experts in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, toxicologists, pathologists, pharmacologists, formulation experts, statisticians and veterinarians. Each will have a particular role to play in the conduct of studies using animals or the evaluation of samples taken to determine the safety of the medicine on test. Regulation is very important, so animal technicians will also liaise with Home Office inspectors and health and safety professionals.
Many animal technicians are primarily involved in caring for animals, providing them with a safe and enriched environment. Some are also involved in the conduct of studies. This may involve the administration of medicines and the collection and recording of data that's critical to supporting the development programme.
The people who work in this area of the industry are characterised by a desire to work with and look after animals. Basically, they're the foundation of the animal care system.
The great thing about this area of pharmaceuticals is that you can begin a career fairly early. As long as you've GCSEs or equivalent (especially in English, Maths and Science subjects) and would like to continue your studies further, you can begin working. Animal technology is a practical subject and so initial on-the-job training will focus on giving you the practical skills you need to do the job.
As part of an Apprenticeship with a pharmaceutical company, you're able to study for qualifications such as BTECs or NVQs.
The following qualifications are awarded by the Institute of Animal Technology: