While many research labs and universities across the globe are still using outdated, unreliable and unethical animal models in life science experiments, the Dr. Hadwen Trust and Queen Mary, University of London, have announced an exciting new position as Professorial Chair in Animal Replacement Science with a £1 million legacy funding the appointment.
One pioneering research scientist will be at the leading edge of this branch of science that is increasingly recognised as being vital to the development of humane and relevant research. Perhaps some of this innovative and compassionate spirit seen in these UK-based organisations will influence North American scientists, many more of whom seem to cling to outdated research protocols that cause animal suffering on a mind-boggling scale daily.
The Dr. Hadwen Trust and Queen Mary’s Blizard institute
The new professor will be appointed following this legacy from lifelong supporter of the DHT, Alan Stross, and will be based at Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute. The Institute is a leader in developing in vitro models using human cells and tissues, with prior work culminating in 3-dimensional models to aid in research looking at the skin, gastroenterology and cancer. Committed to the search for more ethical, human-relevant alternatives to animal testing and the unnecessary use of animal models in the life sciences, the DHT is the UK’s leading humane medical research charity and this position is the world’s first university professorial chair focusing on replacing animals in science.
More Relevant and Ethical Research
Kailah Eglington, Chief Executive of the Dr. Hadwen Trust, said that this appointment is “a major stepping stone towards the development of a global community of scientists working together towards finding cures that replace the use of animals and are more human-relevant.” These sentiments were seconded by Professor Mike Curtis, Director of the Blizard Institute and Deputy Vice Principal for Health at Queen Mary, University of London, who said “Our aim is to encourage and stimulate research and education in animal replacement science of the highest quality.”
Raising Awareness of Better Alternatives to Animals in Research
The chair will likely focus on the improvement of 3D cell culture and modelling as well as regenerative medicine and bioinformatics. Some remarkable achievements have emerged in this field of science in recent years, with work from groups such as InterNiche helping scientists across the world access equipment and software that often offers an improved learning environment and test conditions than traditional animal models.
New EU Legislation on Animal Use in Research
Building on current successes, much of the work will be focused on cutaneous disease and diseases of the digestive tract. The creation of this position is timely as new UK legislation, courtesy of the European Union, came into force last month, ensuring that alternative, non-animal research techniques are used, where possible, in medical study. More scientists will be forced to find ways to improve stagnant research methods that have failed to provide answers to many questions and these researchers will be able to turn to the DHT for assistance.
The Future of Medical Research – Without Animal Suffering
The collaboration between the Dr Hadwen Trust and Queen Mary will also foster an educational outreach programme to provide inspiration for young scientists as they begin their research careers. Applications for the new position as Chair in Animal Replacement Science at the Blizard Institute will be accepted from March onwards and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing who gets the appointment and how successful they are in encouraging the use of ethical, humane and relevant research methods replacing animal testing.