Joanna Cruden

Oh my goodness I have won! well done Team Jo and thanks for all your votes, I will be back to check for new questions :) This has been great and I am going to have a list of all of your schools so I can send you a copy of the book! Thank you. I am over the moon :)

Favourite Thing: Working with animals and improving their welfare and care while helping to find medicines which improve and save the lives of many patients



I was at Park School from 1980 – 1985, then Writtle Agriculture College, City of Westminster College and Middlesex University


I have a Bsc (hons) in animal technology, a Diploma in Health and Safety, a diploma in teaching in further education and a professional qualifications

Work History:

I worked for an animal breeder from 1985-1990, then moved to a pharmacutical company until 2005, then I moved to the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, and in 2007 I started at Imperial College London before coming to GlaxoSmithKline in 2011

Current Job:

Animal Welfare Officer



Me and my work

My job includes behavioral studies which aim to improve our understanding of laboratory animals and their needs.

Ever since I was a young girl I wanted to work with animals and to help people. Working with laboratory animals has helped me to improve the lives of many animals and ultimately the lives of people who need the medicines we make.

Animal welfare is a high priority not just for me but for all of the scientists and animal technicians working in laboratories. It is important we have a good understanding of the animals we work with to enable us to meet their needs and give them the most appropriate housing and care because not only will this ensure our animals have a high quality of life we will  also produce the most robust scientific results.

Animals play a small but vital role in medical research. I am part of a group that investigate how we can reduce the numbers of animals we use, refine the well being of the animals we house, and replace animals in science with other methods and techniques where we can without compromising the scientific results and being focused on our ultimate goal which is to see patients do more, feel better and live longer.


One of the most exciting things I do is go into secondary schools and talk to the students about the work I do with animals. I get great feedback and have interesting discussions, I learn a lot from the students and I also help them understand more about the work I do.

My Typical Day

Looking after the animals, paperwork, meetings and answering questions

My days are very varied, which is part of the reason I enjoy my job, I do not always know what the day is going to bring. Some days I spend mostly in the office working on the computer or at meetings, answering questions, researching projects and writing instructions for other scientists (protocols). I try to get to the animal unit every day so that I can carry out behavioural observations and discuss the experimental work, while checking the animals are in good health usually I am not so keen to get back to my desk!

When I go into the animal unit I am dressed like this:



What I'd do with the money

I would use the money to produce a book with pictures of the animals and how we look after them

  I have changed my mind about how best to use the money after the chat room today, I realised that maybe having something which is more tangable and avalible for all students would be of greater benefit. If you have any other ideas or suggestions for what I could do with the money please let me know. Check out the Understanding Animal Research website



My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Pragmatic, compassionate, chocaholic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Scouting for Girls, Adele, Michael Bublé, Robbie Williams

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Riding a Harley Davidson through the Nevada Desert

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To find the alternatives to using animals in research, to own a string of arabian horses and good health

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be a showjumper

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I got a board rubber thrown at me several times…..

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I carried out behaviour studies and a report was published in a scientific journal about the best environment for laborotory ferrets.

Tell us a joke.

A man walks into a bar and asks for a gin and tonic, he then walks up the wall and across the ceiling before leaving, a customer remarks “that is unusual” and the bar man replies “I know he usually has a beer”

Other stuff

Work photos:

As I have said in the answer to one of the questions, below is a timeline for roughly how many, and when animals are used in research, I hope you can see it okay:


At my previous workplace we had ferrets, these lovely animals have a reputation for biting but they really are adorable. I did a lot of work with ferrets to see what environment they would benefit from in a laborotory.


Before coming to GSK I worked with scientists who worked with animals  for environmental studies


 Mice are by far the most common laborotory animal and all of the types are very different to work with


As promised in the chatroom earlier today I have uploaded an image of a human and a mouse (not to scale) which shows how similar biologically similar we are. I had to take a screen photo so I apologise for the quality


Here is me with a rabbit


And one of my little dog Max, the only one in the house who uses the Wii Fit!