The main focus of my laboratory is comparative medicine research, leveraging humane use of laboratory animal models of human disease and physiology. There are many unanswered questions regarding best practices in animal care and management. Oftentimes regulations are imposed arbitrarily with little support or validation from scientific standpoint. Performance base standards are promulgated by the Guide for Care of Use of Laboratory Animals and these factors must be evaluated using the scientific method and objective data. This allows for controlled evaluation for animal models and a direct assessment of regulated standards vs performance based on the reliability and reproducibility of data. Contemporary issues impacting best practices include appropriate husbandry and sanitation, variables impacting animal welfare and behaviors such as disinfectant, noise, vibration, diet, water, and operational methods and infrastructural designs that influence research data validity and reproducibility. A new initiative in my lab is exploring the ability of broad-spectrum cannabinoids (CBD) to prevent or treat clinical sings associated with autism-spectrum disorder and epilepsy. Using a novel rat model, the goals are to explore treatment modalities, temporal relationships, and mechanistic actions (including the modulation of systemic inflammatory mediators, cultivation of the intestinal microbiome, and local cytokine profiles within the CNS).