The Portuguese Society of Laboratory Animal Sciences (SPCAL) is a private, non-profit association, of people whose activities are related to laboratory animal sciences, with the aim of promoting research and training in this area.

Laboratory Animal Sciences (LAS) is a multidisciplinary scientific area, which brings together professionals linked to veterinary, biological, and biomedical sciences, also having important contributions from human and social sciences (with emphasis on ethics, education science, communication science) and exact sciences (focusing on statistics and experimental design). LAS are fundamentally dedicated to two main and interrelated objectives:

  1. the study and promotion of the welfare of animals used for scientific and teaching purposes;
  2. improving the quality, validity, and informative value of this use for human and animal health.

Nowadays, LAS studies hundreds of species of vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) and invertebrates (such as cephalopods), to improve the housing conditions and care provided to each of these species. LAS is also applied in the scientific, technical, technological, and humane improvement of the procedures carried out in those animals.

SPCAL thus aims to promote animal welfare and biomedical progress, through training, collaborations and interdisciplinary approaches between professionals involved in LAS, and the dissemination and continuous improvement of a culture of care, as well as harmonization and optimization of the use of laboratory animals while there are no viable alternatives. In this context, it is the purpose of this Society to implement and disseminate the ethical and behavioral principles that must accompany the relationship with laboratory animals, which is governed by the basic principle of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) of animal studies. Our ethical commitment and social responsibility are also reflected in our commitment to transparency with the public regarding the use of animals for scientific and educational purposes.

In October 2000, the 1st Symposium on Laboratory Animal Science, was held in Coimbra, lasting 3 days and bringing together 137 participants from the most diverse parts of the country. The idea of creating “SPCAL” was born in this meeting discussions.
The birth of this scientific association occurred on December 18, 2003, when 19 founding members signed the constitution of SPCAL. The 1st General Assembly of SPCAL took place on October 25, 2004, preceded by a colloquium on the theme “Possibilidades e Limites da Experimentação Animal: o Problema à Luz da Ciência, Ética e Lei”. Later, on November 7, 2005, the statutes were approved.
Since then, SPCAL has organized 5 international congresses (2009; 2012; 2015 – together with SECAL; 2018 and 2024) and 1 scientific day (2021), being a reference organization in the field of laboratory animal sciences in Portugal and abroad.

SPCAL brings together professionals who carry out activities in the field of animal experimentation, including appointed veterinarians, handlers, technicians, researchers, or managers/ directors. One of SPCAL's strong focuses has been the training of researchers at the beginning of their activity or with coordination positions, technicians, and professionals in general, for the appropriate use of laboratory animals. In fact, since 2005, SPCAL has been regularly involved in organizing various theoretical and practical courses, in its own name and in collaboration with various institutions. Some of these actions were truly pioneering in Portugal and beyond its borders, with SPCAL launching its online theoretical course for Category B according to FELASA recommendations in 2010, using e-learning, to reach all potential interested parties, regardless of their geographical location. SPCAL participated in the organization of a Course for caretakers and technicians in 2011. We can highlight the organization of workshops/courses/seminars in Vivarium Management (2010), Biosafety related to Animal experimentation, Microsurgery (2010, 2011 and 2012), Ethics and 3 Rs (2012), Communication in Laboratory Animal Sciences (2011, 2015 and 2016), and Experimental Design (2018).


In 2014, SPCAL supported the organization of 2 training workshops to establish Animal Welfare Bodies (Orgãos Responsáveis pelo Bem-Estar dos Animais – ORBEA – in Portuguese) and since the creation of RedeORBEA in 2016, it has supported the organization of its annual Symposia.


SPCAL has collaborated with the national competent authority – Direção Geral de Alimentação e Veterinária (DGAV), on various matters related to the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and the LAS, the training of people and the criteria for authorization of people to work with laboratory animals for scientific purposes. This partnership, which we are committed to maintaining, ensures representation of the community related to the use of animals for research purposes next to official authorities.

In 2016, SPCAL also became represented in the National Commission for the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes (CPAFC) through the publication of the Ordinance Portaria nº260/2016.   


In 2023, SPCAL signed the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal, an agreement that was promoted in partnership with the European Animal Research Association (EARA), with the culmination of its launch at the SPCAL 2018 congress, having then been signed by the 18 main Portuguese biomedical research institutions.

At the international level, SPCAL is a member of the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA), represented by appointed associates. In addition to playing an active role in meetings, SPCAL has been represented in several FELASA Working Groups, thus contributing directly to recommendations in laboratory animal science and training in this field. It has participated in the harmonization of European animal welfare and health policies, keeping the community of associates and others involved in laboratory animal care and science informed of the latest recommendations and publications.

SPCAL has been a member of EARA since 2015 and of the International Council for Laboratory Sciences (ICLAS) since 2022.


SPCAL will continue its mission promoting the 3Rs in science; further contributing to continuing education in laboratory animal sciences; promoting care for everyone involved; and promoting communication within and outside the scientific community, with the competent national authority and other international bodies, with partner associations, and with society in general.

SPCAL Board, January 2024.

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