Professorial chair to lead search for animal testing alternatives

Queen Mary, University of London, has created a professorial chair in animal replacement science.

January 16, 2013

The position is funded by the Dr Hadwen Trust, a charity that funds investigation into ways of replacing animals in research.

According to the trust, the chair is a world first that will "see the UK spearhead a collaborative global search for more ethical, human-relevant alternatives to animal testing".

The professor will be based at Queen Mary's Blizard Institute, where researchers already are already working on developing in vitro models using human cells and tissue.

Kailah Eglington, chief executive of the Dr Hadwen Trust, called the creation of the chair 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".

She added: "This branch of science is becoming increasingly accepted among the scientific community and it is vital that new and existing scientists and researchers are aware that successful alternatives to animal testing are available today and that more are needed."

A change in EU legislation, announced last year, means that the UK must actively develop and promote alternatives to animal research, while alternatives must continue to be used if they are available.

According to the trust, the chair will play "a pivotal role" in leading the UK's response to this legislative change in creating links between scientists and identifying areas of best practice. It also hopes that educational programmes specific to animal replacement science will be developed to inspire more young people to choose a career in the field.

Mike Curtis, director of the Blizard Institute and deputy vice-principal for health at Queen Mary, said that special areas of focus would include 3D cell culture, 3D modelling and bioinformatics and regenerative medicine, with particular emphasis on diseases of the skin and the digestive tract.

The charity was able to fund the new position thanks to a £1 million legacy left to the charity specifically for this purpose by supporter Alan Stross. Applications for the role will open in March.

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