- 2018–Present: PhD Researcher, NC3R funded, Institute of Zoology, Royal Veterinary College and Imperial College London
- 2018: Research Technician (NERC funded), Institute of Zoology
- 2017: Animal Instructor, Berkshire Agricultural College
- 2014–2017: Research Technician (NERC funded), Institute of Zoology, Imperial College London
- 2014–2017: HOLC (Home Office Liaison Contact), Institute of Zoology
- 2012–2014: Research Assistant (BBRSC funded), University of Sheffield
- 2011: Postgraduate Research Assistant (Vodafone funded): Institute of Zoology
- 2010: Postgraduate Research Assistant: Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of Ornithology. South Africa
- 2008–2009: MSc: Royal Veterinary College/Institute of Zoology, London
- 2003–2006: BSc: Kings College London
- 2018–2021: RVC Ethics Committee (AWERB)
- 2014–Present: ZSL Ethics Committee
The use of animals in experimental research is integral to our understanding for many things, from biological functions to evolution and even the treatment of diseases, both in humans and animals. For some of the world's most threatened species, this research gives hope to their conservation, providing the opportunity to use hypothesis-driven science to help direct action plans. In the UK, this work is regulated by the Animals in Scientific Procedure Act (1986) (ASPA) and as part of this, there is a fundamental drive to apply the 3Rs (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) to all research undertaken. Therefore, where possible animals are not used at all and if they must be used, every effort is taken to decrease the number of individuals used, reduce the effects of experimental protocols and refine the way in which these experiments are conducted. It is the latter two I am addressing in my PhD with my work focusing on how to assess signs of poor welfare. Once tested for value and recordability, these indicators can then be used to refine the way in which we care for animals kept under such conditions presented in research institutions.
My experience and focus derive from employment prior to my PhD. I spent many years supporting infectious disease research involving an array of amphibian species and before this I worked on scientific programmes that addressed the fundamentals of evolutionary biology, with birds as the model species. Throughout this time, I developed a real interest in improving the conditions in which the research operates under. Focusing on how an animal experiences it and we can actively do to improve on this, but without affecting the experimental design. I explored ways of improving our knowledge and application of welfare assessments for animals used in laboratory research and fortuned by academic support to address my ideas. But it wasn’t until the NC3Rs granted full support with my studentship that I could fully address the problem of how to refine experimental disease work for amphibians.
I currently examining how elements of the 3Rs can be integrated into amphibian disease research. Where replacement of animals is not possible, reduce the use of them and alongside enhancing our knowledge, furthering our understanding of amphibian care within research centres; how to recognise signs of pain and suffering to improve welfare standards. Therefore, working to reduce the severity associated with amphibian infectious diseases. Where known disease effects and expert opinion can be obtained, I’m assessing which candidate indicators could be presentive of poor welfare and how can we assess them experimentally. As well as using differing diagnostic techniques to investigate if targeted sampling can be used to reduce the disease effects of an individual, without affecting the scientific outcome of an experiment.
Prof Trenton Garner (primary supervisor)
Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe, Royal Veterinary College (joint 2nd supervisor)
Prof Mat Fisher, Imperial College London (joint 2nd supervisor)
Dr Becki Lawson, (2nd internal supervisor)
Dr María Forzan, Long Island University
Ghosh PN, Verster R, Sewell TR, O'Hanlon SJ, Brookes LM et al. 2020. Discriminating lineages of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis using quantitative PCR, Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.13299
Ghosh PN, Brookes LM, et al. 2020. Cross-Disciplinary Genomics Approaches to Studying Emerging Fungal Infections, Life. DOI:10.3390/life10120315
Tapley B, Jervis P, Nguyen LT, Portway C, Nguyen CT, Luong HV, Kane D, Brookes L, et al. 2020. Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Detected in Amphibians from Vietnam’s Highest Mountains, Herpetological Review.
Meurling S, Kärvemo S, Chondrelli N, Cortazar Chinarro M, Åhlen D, Brookes L et al., 2020. Occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Sweden: higher infection prevalence in southern species, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. DOI:10.3354/dao03502
Brod S, Brookes L, Garner TWJ. 2018. Discussing the future of amphibians in research. Report on the NC3Rs/ZSL Workshop on Amphibian Welfare, Lab Animal. DOI.org/10.1038/s41684-018-0193-6
Fisher MC, Ghosh P, Shelton JMG, Bates K, Brookes L, et al. 2018. Development and worldwide use of non-lethal, and minimal population-level impact, protocols for the isolation of amphibian chytrid fungi, Scientific Reports. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-24472-2
O'Hanlon SJ, Rieux A, Farrer RA, Rosa GM, Waldman B, Bataille A, Kosch TA, Murray KA, Brankovics B, Fumagalli M, Martin MD, Wales N, Alvarado-Rybak M, Bates KA, Berger L, Boell S, Brookes L, et al. 2018. Recent Asian origin of chytrid fungi causing global amphibian declines, Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aar1965
Bates K, Clare FC, O’Hanlon S, Bosch J, Brookes L, et al. 2018 . Amphibian chytridiomycosis outbreak dynamics are linked with host skin bacterial community structure, Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-02967-w
Tapley B, Bielby J, Böhm M, Brookes L, et al. 2017. Zoological Society of London: contributions towards advancing the field of herpetology through conservation, research, captive management and education, The Herpetological Bulletin.
Kang-Wook K, Bennison C, Hemmings N, Brookes L, et al. 2017. A sex-linked supergene controls sperm morphology and swimming speed in a songbird, Nature Ecology & Evolution. DOI:10.1038/s41559-017-0235-2
Bennison C, Hemmings N, Brookes L, et al., 2016. Sperm morphology, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) concentration and swimming velocity: unexpected relationships in a passerine bird, Proceedings of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.1558
Invited talks and Conference Posters
Brookes LM, Abeyesinghe SM, Fisher MC & Garner TWJ. A tale of two halves: Non-model amphibians and understanding how we can improve the application of the 3Rs to disease research. 26th-28th November 2019, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Brookes LM. Non-model amphibians and understanding how we can improve the application of the 3Rs to disease research. 5th December 2019. Internal research seminar series: Manchester University, United Kingdom.
Brookes LM, Abeyesinghe SM, Fisher MC & Garner TWJ. Application of the 3Rs principle. Animal Bioethics, 20th November 2020, on-line and hosted by ZSL Ethics Committee for Animal Research.
Brookes LM, Sergeant C & Rosa GM. Individual identification techniques for Bufo bufo the Common Toad. NC3Rs Workshop on Amphibians Welfare 5th October 2017, London.
Events and organising committees
2017: Workshop on Amphibian welfare co-hosted by NC3Rs and ZSL
2013: Workshop: Sperm competition analysis and fertility assessment of birds. University of Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (BBSRC funded)