Spec. Issue 2006 - Article Summary

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Educating scientists on alternatives. A continuous process

Jan van der Valk
NCA, Dpt. Animals, Science & Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Already from the start of their study in one of the biomedical sciences should students be made aware of the fact that animal experimentation is not always an obvious choice in biomedical research and that in many instances 3Rs models can and should be used. During laboratory classes, whenever possible, animal free teaching models should be considered and used. Also, when it is regarded essential to have the students work with experimental animals, they should be informed on the consequences and the concerns of the society.
Every scientist designing animal experiments should be qualified and aware of the 3Rs. The Laboratory Animal Science course, where Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs) are the main themes, offers this qualification. Scientist should be continuously stimulated to consider the 3Rs when planning animal experiments. The animal ethics committee requests that 3Rs models have been considered before an animal experiment proposal is approved. This requirement and subsequent verification of an expert on alternatives ensures that scientists are (made) aware of possible 3Rs models in their field of interest. Several journals now require a statement that the 3Rs have been considered and applied. Furthermore, several science organisations focus on the development, acceptance and information exchange of 3Rs models. Education on 3Rs models cannot be a one-time event, but should be a continuous process that educates scientists also on new developments that can be applied to replace, reduce and refine animal experimentation.

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