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IND: Tenth in vitro toxicology workshop at MGDC

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation (DZF)-sponsored Mahatma Gandhi Doerenkamp Center (MGDC) for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education, and Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair for Alternatives in Education and in vitro Toxicology, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, India, through their programs for faculties, scientists, and students, are constantly engaged in bringing about progressive changes in animal use in education, research, and risk assessment by sensitizing and motivating the stakeholders towards implementation of the 3Rs concept. Campaigning by MGDC in this direction, in collaboration with the NGO organizations (PfA, PeTA, and I-CARE) in India, and with the support of a few enlightened teachers, has resulted in the University Grants Commission designing specific guidelines for phasing out dissections from the life science curriculum in universities and colleges in India. Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has also directed medical, veterinary, and pharmacy faculties to redesign their curriculum in such a way as to avoid unnecessary killing of animals.  

Sensitization by MGDC is done along two different streams, one for the faculties and students towards familiarization and implementation of the 3Rs concept in education by the adoption of digital tools and other humane approaches, and the other for those engaged in research and testing with an appeal to avoid unnecessary killing of animals and instead adopt in vitro and in silico tools. Towards the latter mission, MGDC has organized a series of in vitro toxicology workshops. The 10th workshop, entitled “Techniques in Animal Cell Culture and In Vitro Toxicology,” was conducted on June 1-10, 2012, at MGDC. The participants included faculty, students, and scientists from across the country. 

Prof. Mohammed A. Akbarsha, Director and Chair, MGDC, Dr Perumana R. Sudhakaran, a Senior Scientist from the Interuniversity Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Prof. Oommen V. Oommen, Emeritus Professor, University of Kerala, and Dr Arun Dharmarajan, Winthrop Professor, The University of Western Australia illustrated the history and successes of in vitro methods on global, national, and personal levels. The workshop was a blend of technical lectures, demonstrations and hands-on training on each of the exercises, starting with an introduction on basics of animal cell culture (thawing, passaging, enumeration, viability assays, and genotoxicity assays), through primary culture, to adoption of molecular techniques such as Western blotting, immunofluorescent assays, PCR, gene cloning, etc. The response from the participants was highly positive and endorsed the goals of the MGDC.

Mohammad A. Akbarsha,
Mohammed Zeeshan,
and Karukayil J. Meenakumari
MGDC, India

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