Please Enter a Search Term

Memorial welcomes new director of Animal Care

Dr. Jennifer Keyte

By Meaghan Whelan

With the clanging noise of a jackhammer right outside her office in the Health Sciences Complex, Dr. Jennifer Keyte immediately wondered about the impact the noise and vibration would have on the research animals housed next door.
“Right away, I think of how this may affect the animals, and my next thought is, ‘what are the implications for the research that depends on those animals?’”

Dr. Keyte is Memorial’s new director of Animal Care. She began on Sept. 8, 2010, and is already brimming with ideas to facilitate research while upholding high standards of both animal health and research methods.

“I am always thinking about both the welfare of the animals and the quality of the research. I want to improve from where we are now with the Animal Care resources that are available to the research community. I want to ensure that researchers are able to produce high-quality results,” she explained.

Dr. Keyte has been working in research animal medicine for over 10 years. She has worked with a large variety of mammalian, aquatic and avian species and has overseen many aspects of animal care programming. In addition to her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the Atlantic Veterinary College, Dr. Keyte pursued additional study in aquatic and marine species through the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, Mass. Dr. Keyte also holds a bachelor of science from the University of Toronto. Most recently, Dr. Keyte served as assistant director and veterinary officer of animal care at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Keyte has big plans for Animal Care at Memorial. “Remaining at the status quo is not an option for us. I’m looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff and senior administration. We need to meet certain standards such as those set by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, but I want to exceed those wherever possible by incorporating the best practices in place at other animal research facilities.”

To that end, Dr. Keyte plans on meeting with researchers in groups and one-on-one to talk about their ideas and get feedback on how Animal Care can better support their research.

“I’ve always been very interested in the research and have collaborated with researchers in the past,” she explained. “I’m looking forward to engaging with researchers, students and technicians to find the optimal solutions to the problems that we face in planning and conducting research.”

Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (Research) at Memorial, said Dr. Keyte’s energy and experience are tremendous assets to Memorial.

“I believe very strongly in the vision that Dr. Keyte has set for Animal Care at Memorial. She has brought forth exciting ideas and initiatives in our discussions about the challenges in the program and the facilities, and I’m looking forward to working with her to improve the services we offer our researchers who depend on Animal Care.”

Former director served university for 30 years

Dr. Lenka Husa officially retired on Sept. 3, 2010, from her position as director of Animal Care, after a nearly 30-year career with Memorial.

Dr. Husa immigrated to Canada in 1981 from the former Czechoslovakia with her husband, Jiri, and two young daughters. Later that year she found work in the Medical School Laboratory at Memorial, sterilizing and distributing laboratory glass to various labs. She moved up quickly, spending some time as a research assistant in a genetics lab and later as a research assistant in the surgical research lab. At the same time, she was studying for the Canadian Veterinary Board licensing exam.

Her expertise from the Czech Republic was in the area of Laboratory Animal Science and microbiology, experience that came in handy when she applied for the job as director of Animal Care Services at Memorial. She won the competition and was appointed director in 1989.

During her tenure, Animal Care opened a diagnostic laboratory that provides continuous health monitoring on animals housed in the facility; established educational programs for graduate students and animal technicians; and in 1993 was named the best small animal care facility in Canada by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). Dr. Husa served on many committees, including serving as director and executive secretary of the Institutional Animal Care Committee for a number of years.

Her retirement was marked with a private get-together of Animal Care staff, where the only gift she agreed to accept was a scrapbook of the department and the staff and their families.

Dr. Husa’s work was recognised by Memorial in 1995 when she was named one of the inaugural recipients of the President’s Award for Exemplary Service.