Caring for Animals

Chickens, beef and dairy cattle, sheep and pigs populated Dr. Gary Borkowski’s childhood farm in western Iowa.

There were two other animals that had the run of the diversified farming operation. They weren’t nearly as popular with the young Gary as were the chickens, cows, sheep and pigs.

“Rats and mice were my enemies early in my life on the farm,” Borkowski says. “Ironically, today I advocate for the humane treatment of all animals in research, teaching and testing.”

Borkowski is the global director of AAALAC International, the world’s most influential organization in the continuous improvement of animal welfare of research animals. The private, non-profit organization promotes humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment.

As global director, Borkowski oversees the accreditation program and represents and promotes the organization’s mission globally. This role is a continuation of over 30 years of experience in academic and pharmaceutical laboratory animal medicine.

“There were a handful of us who saw laboratory animal medicine as a different career path in veterinary medicine,” Borkowski said. “Day and night, I would watch my father dutifully take care of our animals on the farm. His dedication to their care got embedded in me.”

Before joining AAALAC, Borkowski worked at major international research institutions including Vanderbilt University, Pennsylvania State University, Monsanto, Pfizer, Pharmacia and Eli Lilly. While at Penn State, he prepared animals for flights aboard the Space Shuttle. He was responsible for monitoring ground controls and supported post-flight data and tissue collection and analysis.

No matter the job, what has been consistent about Borkowski’s job duties is his support of the welfare of animals used in science. He has also advanced the welfare of animals through his volunteer service in numerous professional organizations such as the American Society of Laboratory Practitioners, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and the American College of Animal Medicine.

“I’m pretty open with what I do as a laboratory animal veterinarian,” he says. “There must be an openness and transparency in what we as animal medical researchers do. Society has demanded and expects that these animals be given a high quality of care.”

Prior to joining AAALAC in 2017, Borkowski served in a variety of consulting and ad hoc roles for the organization that has accredited more than 1,000 institutions in 49 countries. In those roles, he assisted with program reviews and participated and led site visits.

So when the opportunity arose to work at AAALAC International, he immediately took action.

“AAALAC is at the top of the pyramid and I’ve always been impressed with how the organization works to advocate and promote humane animal care,” Borkowski said. “It was an opportunity for me to help improve animal care in research around the world.”

May 2021