Animal-free innovation: how to move forward?

4 years ago

Animal studies are more and more complemented by animal-free innovations. How should you deal with that as a researcher or a teaching professor? The UMC Utrecht, Utrecht University and the University for Applied Sciences Utrecht have set up a working group that can help you answer this question.

The working group is called TPI Utrecht, indicating that it wants to work close with the government programme with the same purpose on a national level, called Transitie Proefdiervrije Innovatie (TPI or Transition to Animal-Free Innovation).

In the coming years, TPI Utrecht will strive to stimulate innovations that make animal experiments in research fields or sub-fields unnecessary. Activities will include setting up a helpdesk, drawing attention to animal-free methods, organizing Helpathons (creative meetings for finding new research methods together) and promoting existing solutions, such as a supply chain for human tissue from patients, to become available for scientific research. Quality is the central principle of the working group. Innovations must continue to guarantee and preferably improve the quality of scientific research and education.

Both ambitious and realistic

The group is both ambitious and realistic. Chairman Daniela Salvatori realizes that the working group faces a major challenge: “We are well aware that the possibilities of drastically reducing animal use in the relatively short term are not there for the taking. They also differ per research area. But if we do nothing, nothing will happen. We have to practice with looking at science in a different way, starting from the question and looking at the best way to answer that question. That is not always by working with animals. At the same time, we must realize that current animal experiments are done with great care, after a thorough ethical assessment. But things are moving now, and Utrecht is well positioned to lead this movement. I see, for example, that these days students already look at animal experiments in a completely different way than ten or twenty years ago. So this is the moment to nudge that movement. The time is right. "
TPI Utrecht is housed in the Utrecht Life Sciences partnership.

TPI Utrecht is part of the Utrecht Life Sciences partnership. More information and the TPI Utrecht Helpdesk: