Spotlight: Q&A With Dr. Keith M. Astrofsky, DVM, Director of Operations of Mispro

Q&A on Mispro Insourcing Option

Since 2003, Mispro Biotech Services has offered biopharmaceutical and life science companies access to state-of-the-art vivarium research space plus comprehensive laboratory animal science services supporting preclinical drug development. With more than 20 years’ experience in veterinary & animal laboratory sciences, with expertise in animal care & welfare, program accreditation & compliance, animal model development, husbandry & technical procedures, and animal facility design, Attending Veterinarian Dr. Keith M. Astrofsky, DVM, Director of Operations of Mispro, is responsible for managing Mispro’s daily operations, including facilities, staff and services. We asked Dr. Astrovsky to talk about Mispro’s recent expansion of its services into the Massachusetts biotechnology supercluster with its on-site vivarium services solution that enables research organizations to focus on science, while Mispro handles all other aspects of vivarium operations in support of preclinical drug and product development.

What does Mispro offer to its clients here in the greater Boston life science and biotech innovation cluster?

KA: We offer a range of skilled staff, space, and services in support of companies’ in vivo science portfolios within the Boston life science cluster.  In vivo research programs are complex, expensive, time-consuming, and require specialized personnel to operate with consistency, quality, and efficiency. Mispro offers companies the ability to focus limited internal resources (space, people, equipment) on their core in vivo science portfolio while leaving the management of the animals and the environment to our dedicated and experienced professionals.

Tell me a little about your background and how you got involved in this field.

KA: As a veterinarian, one of our primary responsibilities in ensuring the health and well-being of our animal patients, is the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of illness or injury. Prescribing medications and performing other treatments to alleviate illness, pain, and distress is, therefore, a routine part of every veterinarian’s day. Early in my career, I became more fascinated in how new medications and therapeutic interventions were developed rather than just prescribing them.  This led me to pursue a specialty career in laboratory animal science and comparative medicine. Most veterinarians encounter illness or injury in their animal patients and prescribe medications to make them better. I work with scientists and other skilled medical professionals who often need to make animals sick in order to study, understand, and develop new medications for the betterment of both human and animal-kind. My job as a veterinary and operations professional is to use my skills and experience to maintain a safe, consistent, and comfortable environment while minimizing any distress to the animals to accomplish these important scientific goals. In so doing, I also manage a team of knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated people required to accomplish this task around-the-clock, 365 days-a-year.

You’re announcing a new service offering – insourcing for client vivarium facilities. Can you elaborate on the significance of this announcement?

KA: Mispro’s insourcing service arose out of some of our clients’ needs for a staffing solution within their own in vivo research environment. While many companies are looking for Mispro’s complete solution to resourcing the infrastructure (space, people, equipment) supporting their in vivo science portfolio, some companies already have their own dedicated vivarium space and equipment but lack the institutional knowledge or skilled staff internally to manage such an operation with consistency, quality, and efficiency. Mispro now has the ability to offer clients the benefit of our teams’ combined skills, experience, and dedication as well as our core service support programs (IACUC, veterinary, business continuity, colony management) in their own space.

Tell us about Mispro’s network of vivarium facilities in life science throughout the US and Canada.

KA: Currently, Mispro offers fully resourced, in vivo research support facilities in the most prominent biotechnology and innovation centers along the east coast of North America, including Montreal, New York City, Boston, and Research Triangle Park. Mispro’s offerings include dedicated vivarium space (housing and procedure rooms), skilled and experienced animal husbandry & facility management staff, veterinary service professionals, and IACUC (as well as other regulatory compliance) services.

How long has Mispro been providing vivarium services?

KA: Mispro has been providing vivarium services since the launch of its flagship site in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2003.

What are the advantages to drug development companies if they insource their vivarium facility to Mispro?

KA: Insourcing offers companies the very important option whether ‘to build versus buy’ their own husbandry, veterinary, and IACUC teams to support their in vivo research program. Acquiring the right vivarium personnel to support in vivo research efforts can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. With Mispro’s insourcing service, a client immediately gains the collective knowledge, experience, and expertise of our established teams and programs, which in turn allows the client to focus their limited time and resources on other core priorities.

What is Mispro’s level of expertise in managing vivaria?

KA: Mispro’s operations teams and management are comprised of dedicated professionals with prior laboratory animal science, facility design, and animal husbandry/management experience with various species and in diverse research sectors including academia, government, hospitals, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, all Mispro site programs are accredited by AAALAC and OLAW/PHS assured. Our trained and dedicated staff currently hold nationally recognized AALAS technician certifications (ALAT, LAT, LATg) while our supervisory and management staff additionally hold relevant ILAM, CMAR, and CPIA certifications.  Most of our husbandry staff come to Mispro with 2-5 years’ prior experience while our supervisory and management staff have 7-10+ years’ prior experience.  Many team members also have training and hands-on experience in veterinary science, basic bio-methodology skills, regulatory compliance, and rodent breeding colony management.

How do clients know that their vivarium is compliant without directly managing the vivarium?

KA: Currently, all Mispro site programs are accredited by AAALAC and OLAW/PHS assured. These accrediting and certifying agencies provide for some measure of nationally recognized (and enforceable) standards of laboratory animal care.  Some of Mispro’s site programs are subject to federal, state, and/or local licensing (USDA-APHIS, NY Dept. of Public Health, City of Cambridge) and unannounced, on-site program inspections by knowledgeable third-party individuals.  Mispro maintains an exemplary inspection record and is an institution in good standing with these agencies.  Additionally, many of Mispro’s clients choose to perform their own independent quality assurance audits at periodic intervals to review Mispro’s operational records, training/performance logs, and any relevant third-party inspections/reviews (AAALAC, USDA-APHIS, etc.).

What happens with intellectual property related to client animal studies if Mispro is managing the vivarium?

All study-related intellectual property remains with the client. In the normal course of business, all Mispro employees are trained to perform their daily duties subject to our confidentiality disclosure agreements with the clients and do not discuss activities and interactions with other clients without prior permission. As a manner of business, Mispro employees do not disclose the names or nature of activities by its current clients to other clients during day-to-day operations or to third parties (i.e. perspective clients, vendors, partners, etc.) without prior permission.  In terms of the IACUC, all protocols are also subject to the same confidentiality disclosure terms with all IACUC members involved in reviewing such materials subject to nondisclosure agreements.

Are there any other companies that provide vivarium management services? If so, what makes Mispro different?

KA: There are other companies that provide insourcing services, some with a similar offering as ours, but the main difference in Mispro’s insourcing solution from our competitors is that we are providing a comprehensive solution to support our clients’ in vivo programs rather than just providing animal husbandry staff, or FTE’s (full-time employees) which is what many organizations think of when they think of insourcing. Mispro’s insourcing solution essentially replicates our off-site services and operational infrastructure, on-site, in clients’ vivaria. Mispro Insource offers the same operational infrastructure, laboratory animal science expertise & services, and compliance oversight that we offer to clients in our network of off-site vivarium research facilities.


About Mispro Biotech Services
Since 2003, Mispro Biotech Services has offered biopharmaceutical and life science companies access to state-of-the-art vivarium research space plus comprehensive laboratory animal science services supporting preclinical drug development. With a network of vivarium facilities conveniently located in key biotech and life science clusters in the U.S. and Canada including Cambridge, Mass., Farmingdale, N.Y., New York City, Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Montreal, Mispro offers an affordable and scalable option for research organizations who do not have access to a vivarium but choose to conduct and control their own studies. In 2019-2020, Mispro is planning to expand in the U.S. as well as Europe, and is also expanding its offering to include Insourcing, which brings their best-in-class vivarium services on-site into client vivaria.