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Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair in Utrecht provides a PhD thesis

It is our pleasure to announce that a project ran by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair in Utrecht, the Netherlands, has been crowned by a PhD thesis. The thesis entitled „ ANIMAL TESTING, 3R MODELS AND REGULATORY ACCEPTANCE - Technology Transition in a Risk-averse Context“ by Marie-Jeanne Schiffelers provides an in-depth analysis to understand why the acceptance and use of 3R (replace, reduce and refine) models in the regulatory domain is a highly challenging process. This study addresses a number of issues in the field of 3Rs and their regulatory acceptance and provides an in-depth insight into the topic answering the following questions:

  • How can regulatory acceptance and use of 3R models for risk assessment and efficacy testing purposes be defined?
  • Which theoretical perspectives are needed to comprehend and enhance this process?
  • Which factors influence the regulatory acceptance and use of 3R models?
  • How do these factors influence the regulatory acceptance and use of 3R models 
  • How can the process of regulatory acceptance and use of 3R models be optimized?

 This exceptionally refined work has just been published and is available for download.

 

Click here to download >>„ANIMAL TESTING, 3R MODELS AND REGULATORY ACCEPTANCE - Technology Transition in a Risk-averse Context“<<


Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center receives UGC support for continuation

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation-sponsored Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center (MGDC) for Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Life Science Education, with the Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair for Life Science Education and In Vitro Toxicology, established in July 2009 at Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli in India, with People for Animals (PfA), Chennai, as a supporting partner, has been working tirelessly in the cause of animals in India, particularly in the domains of education and training, chemical risk assessment, drug discovery and cosmetics testing. Tenured for five years, the Center / Chair was scheduled to be wrapped up in June 2014, since the Foundation was not in a position to support its continuation. However, the incumbent Chair was able to self-generate small funds such that the activities could be continued until March 2016. In the mean time, in order to sustain the activities of the Center after this date and encouraged by the Foundation, PfA, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University, the incumbent Chair put enormous effort into mobilizing financial support from an Indian Government Funding Agency. Now, it is heartening that the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, has sanctioned an amount of INR Five Crores (INR 50 million) under the “Center with Potential for Excellence in Particular Areas (CPEPA)” scheme for a “National Center for Alternatives to Animal Experiments (NCAAE).” This Center will essentially be a continuation of the MGDC, with much more emphasis on courses as well as research on alternatives, but without the Chair. The following shall be the objectives of NCAAE, India:


- To establish a national repository and reference point of literature on animal alternatives and to keep it up to date; to provide access to the literature to the stake-holders.

- To establish a repository of digital and simulation alternatives for dissections and animal experiments, introduce newer digital alternatives, to update them regularly and train the stake-holders in these alternatives.

- To establish the facilities for and provide training in in vitro alternatives; to establish co-culture facility and 3D culture facility; to bring up new technologies / variants of existing technologies so as for India to be at least self-reliant in respect of products and processes; to facilitate scientists / researchers with these facilities and to apply these technologies in research and risk assessment; to provide training to stake-holders.

- To provide an in silico alternatives facility and training; to introduce newer in silico tools and newer applications for existing tools; to facilitate scientists / researchers with these tools; to provide training.

- To offer academic programs on “alternatives.”

- To support networking of individuals, institutes and labs engaged in contributing to alternatives; to conduct seminars, symposia, conferences and national and international congresses on alternatives.


DZF, PfA and the Founder-Chair are very proud that this facility, which will blossom and prosper into a force to be reckoned with, was seeded by them. Thus, DZF and PfA will have a permanent and coveted place in the history of the alternatives movement in India.

 


Mohammad A. Akbarsha

Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center (MGDC) for Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Life Science Education & Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair for Life Science Education and In Vitro Toxicology, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, India

 

 


Animal Welfare Research Award for Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation's Research Team

The 34th Animal Welfare Research Award of the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture goes to the research group of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair of in-vitro Toxicology and Biomedicine at the University of Konstanz, Germany. The prize was awarded by the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, to Marcel Leist and Stefan Schildknecht for the achievements of their team in developing of an in vitro method to study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s disease. The three-dimensional model based on nerve cells of human and murine origin was developed in collaboration with PhD student Liudmila Efremova. It can be used both in basic research as well as for testing drugs. The method has enormous potential to reduce and replace animal models in the research of neurodegenerative diseases. We are pleased that the efforts and achievements of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair at the University of Konstanz have been recognized with such a prestigious award. The award ceremony took place on September 25, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair in India receives a Humane Science Award from PETA

The Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Centre (MGDC), based in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education has been awarded a  Humane Science Award. The award is given by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and coming just in time for National Science Day on 28 February. It recognises the MGDC for, among other successful efforts, their monumental progress in pushing for humane legislation and reducing and eliminating animal testing via educational workshops for teachers, researchers, veterinarians and physicians.


“The exceptional strides made by the Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Centre are modernising research and preventing millions of animals from being cut up in classrooms”, says PETA Science Policy Adviser Dr Chaitanya Koduri. “PETA’s motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to experiment on’ – a philosophy that this group are making a reality by helping students use exclusively modern and humane research methods.”


In the past five years, the MGDC has sponsored more than 60 workshops at institutions across India, educating teachers at the high school through university levels on modern digital dissection simulations, which produce better results in the classroom than archaic animal-based methods. The group have also teamed up with PETA to push for changes in course curricula through the University Grants Commission and Medical Council of India, sparing the lives of millions of animals every year.


The MGDC has tackled high-level research as well, holding 17 intensive 10-day training sessions on cell culture techniques and in vitro technology, educating nearly 300 researchers and scientists on modern, animal-free methods. The MGDC’s work with SkinEthic Academy in France has also resulted in three workshops, helping to integrate 3-dimensional in vitro methods that take the place of animals in cosmetics tests.


Prestigious Lush Prize for a project co-financed by the DZ Foundation

The "Center for Alternatives to Animal Experiments in Europe" (CAAT-Europe) was honored with the Lush Prize for its "CAAT-Europe Policy Program". This is the highest prize given for lobbying and policy interventions promoting the use of alternatives to animal testing.

 

The independent scientific organization CAAT Europe, headquartered at the University of Konstanz is awarded the prize for its proactive commitment to providing scientific information to the European parliament in Brussels. Dr. Francois Busquet, who coordinates the scientific information work of CAAT-Europe in Brussels, accepted the €50,000 prize in London.

 

CAAT-Europe aim is to bring together decision makers from politics and business with scientists in order to demonstrate scientifically sound alternatives to animal testing in product and safety testing. "We work independently of industry, government and animal welfare organizations and can therefore provide interest-free scientific results and research. We aim here to always keep our finger on the pulse of consumer protection" says Prof. Dr. Thomas Hartung, co-director of CAAT-Europe.

 

CAAT-Europe proactively communicates to Parliament members and offers conferences and workshops in the European Parliament. Since 2012, discussions in the field of lifesciences were led with more than 100 members of the European Parliament and ten workshops were organized.

 

In 2013 CAAT Europe became the official external consultant (STOA) of the European Parliament. "We are proud of that that we brought with our “Policy Program” scientific animal-free test methods to the level of the European institutions and that CAAT-Europe at the University of Konstanz has become a leading institution in this field in Europe," says Prof. Dr. Marcel Leist, head of CAAT-Europe.


Head of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden chair of in-vitro toxicology and biomedicine being awarded by SOT

The Society of Toxicology (SOT)* — the world’s largest and preeminent association representing the field of toxicology — is recognizing the field’s top researchers and scientists today through the announcement of recipients of 2015 SOT Awards that honor individuals who are advancing the field of toxicology.

 

Marcel Leist, the head of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden chair of in-vitro toxicology and biomedicine, is being awarded the 2015 SOT Enhancement of Animal Welfare Award. This award honors a SOT member for contributions made to the advancement of toxicological science through the development and application of methods that replace, refine, or reduce the need for experimental animals. Dr. Leist’s laboratory focuses on in vitro toxicology, specifically mechanisms and systems related to neurotoxicity.


*The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the US and abroad. SOT is committed to creating a safer and healthier world by advancing the science of toxicology. In recognition of distinguished toxicologists and students, SOT presents many prestigious awards each year.


Thank you, dear Alan

Happy 75th birthday to Alan Goldberg, a father of the present success of the 3Rs in the world, a good friend, mentor and visionary thinker, honorary member of the scientific advisory board of the DZF.


Thank you, dear Alan


The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation board members, Eduard, Franz, Marcel, Norbert, and Thomas

The Foundation Office, Vera and Goran

 

In November 2014 we celebrate the 75th birthday of Alan Goldberg, an iconic figure in the field of alternative methods. Coincidentally, one of the most beloved films of all time, The Wizard of Oz, shares this anniversary. Our story takes place in Maryland, not in Kansas, and it was not a storm that transported Alan into the alternative world but the Cosmetic Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA), which in 1980 was looking for help to make a credible contribution to reduce animal use. And thus began the journey to the Emerald City along the yellow brick road through a land where animals and humans spoke to and helped one another (well, except for the flying monkeys). While it’s tempting to translate the companions found on the way – the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion – to some of the characters Alan teamed up with on his way, let’s not overdo the analogy.


Anyway, Alan fits neither the role of Dorothy (who in the end is only a dreamer) nor the wizard (who is exposed as a fraud). Still, what seemed like a fairytale for many when he created CAAT in 1981 has become a reality in 2014: More research is done in vitro than in vivo. A PubMed query on publications in 2014 (January to September) with the term “animal” results in 70,000 papers vs. 190,000 with the term “cell.” The use of animals in drug development continues to decline, as is most clearly evidenced by the 25% decline between 2005 and 2008 in Europe. Alternative approaches are now mainstream science – and Alan Goldberg was pivotal in making that happen.


He led CAAT, the premier 3Rs center in North America, for 27 years, created Altweb, the most prominent website in the field and began the series of international World Congresses on Alternatives. Now Alan is retiring from his role as Chair­man of the CAAT boards in the US and Europe.

All great journeys have a beginning. Alan got his PhD in pharmacology from the University of Minnesota in 1966 with an interest in the cholinergic nervous system. At the time, the importance of acetylcholine (Ach) in the nervous system was first being understood but there were no chemical assays to measure it. He decided he wanted to develop an assay sensitive enough to measure ACh in a single spinal motor neuron in order to study neuromuscular physiology. He applied to the laboratory of Richard McCaman at Indiana University, a laboratory dedicated to microchemical techniques and the nervous system. He went to McCaman’s laboratory at the Psychiatric Research Institute at Indiana University (Indianapolis) as a postdoctoral fellow for one-and-a-half years and then accepted an assistant professorship position in pharmacology at IU. Alan continued to work with McCaman and in 1973 published a paper describing a radioenzymatic assay for ACh. The sensitivity was so high that the test could measure the content of a single motor neuron, and the assay has been used for at least 35 years. Few assays have such longevity.


Alan was recruited by Hopkins in 1969 to the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Division of Toxicology, to continue his studies on cholinergic-related systems and their relationship to pesticides and heavy metals. Most of the pesti­cide studies attempted to understand organophosphate delayed neurotoxicity and were the first use of tissue culture systems in mechanistic toxicology. Alan’s work contributed to a better standardization of tissue culture systems.


Alan’s heavy metal studies focused mainly on lead toxicity. At the time the grant was funded, a young environmental engineer, Ellen Silbergeld, became a postdoc in his laboratory. Their studies pioneered the understanding of early lead exposure hazards and lead’s effect on the developing brain.

In 1980, The Cosmetic Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA, now PCPC, the Personal Care Product Council), wanted to respond to consumer concerns about animal testing for cosmetics. They approached the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Bloomberg School of Public Health) for help. D. A. Henderson, the school’s dean, knew of Alan’s work using tissue culture and asked if he would be interested in organizing such a program.

Gareth Green (Chair of Environmental Health Sciences), D. A. and Alan met to discuss how to develop the proposal. Ga­reth (with Alan’s participation) ran the EPA grants program. They knew that small grants ($20,000) could be spread over many laboratories at Hopkins and other institutions to develop a foundation for in vitro toxicology. “We would not be creating a giant laboratory at Hopkins,” Alan recalls, “but could tap into the best scientists worldwide to develop the in vitro methodologies that could become the basis for test development. The vision became clear. CAAT would focus on developing in vitro cell-based assays to replace animal tests for regulatory purposes.” Since then, CAAT has awarded more than 300 grants totaling over $6 million.

The CTFA grant that established CAAT was funded on September 21, 1981, with a press conference announcing the center and its anticipated programs. The press coverage was enormous and the center was off and running. “We had been advised to have security present because of the animal activist community,” Alan recalls with a smile. (CAAT has worked closely with animal welfare organizations throughout its history.)


Two other Hopkins faculty members, Henry Wagner and Franklin (Frank) Loew, joined the team. Their first major ac­tivity was putting together an advisory board, organizing its first meeting and planning to solicit grants. Frank suggested approaching Andrew Rowan of the Humane Society of the US to be a member of the board so that the animal protection community would be represented. Andrew would also serve as Alan’s mentor on animal protection issues. The team also realized they needed academics specializing in eye and skin physiology, representatives from government regulatory agencies (FDA, NIEHS, and EPA) and industry sponsors. D.A. and Gareth identified and recruited the government rep­resentatives. They approached the FDA commissioner, who appointed Gerald Guess to represent them, John (Jack) Moore (an Associate Director of the EPA) and Paul Kotin, the first Director of the NIEHS, were asked to participate. All three joined the board. The academics included Lowell Goldsmith, the chair of dermatology at Rochester, and James (Jim) Mc­Culley, of Dallas South West Medical School. From industry they invited Norman Estrin, a representative of the CTFA, and Leon Golberg of the Chemical Institute of Toxicology (now known as The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences).


The board sought to create a comprehensive and honest animal protection agenda. All of the board agreed that a fundamental component would have to be rigorous scientific research. Leon Golberg initiated one of the most important discussions. If CAAT were to actually replace animal testing with tissue culture methods, he pointed out, it would need to develop assays using human cells in culture. This understanding was prophetic and absolutely correct. Funding research to provide consistent human tissue culture models became a focus of the research program. Human cells in culture and 3D models are now commercially available, in part because of CAAT’s vision.

Other CAATprograms included an in vitro laboratory, organized by John Frazier, a grants program, symposia, technical workshops, and an 11-volume book series. The communications program was then developed as it became apparent that the public was truly interested in alternatives. The symposia series developed into the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences. The first was held in 1993 in Baltimore and the ninth was held this year (2014) in Prague.


Alan Goldberg directed CAAT from its founding in 1981 to 2008. Upon my request he stayed with us as Chairman of the Board, and soon after Chairman of the European Board. Now, almost six years later, it is time to say farewell. “Every farewell combines loss and new freedom,” the aphorist Mason Colley said. While we will dearly miss Alan’s daily presence, we hope that while enjoying his new freedom he will remain available for occasional advice and assistance. We now identify him as Founding Director (Emeritus).

L. Frank Baum, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote: “... And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Alan, his great work, and his generous heart, are clearly loved by many. We wish him a wonderful journey ahead.


Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD


Article was published in ALTEX 4/2014, pp547-548

 

Projects supported by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation provide results

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation has continued to actively support a number of projects in the field of alternatives to animal testing in biomedical sciences. Furthered activities are either projects performed within the frame work of the Foundation’s chairs or have been independently supported as projects with a significant impact on the promotion of alternative methods. Up to now numerous projects have provided significant results which have been published either in form of scientific articles in prestigious journals such as ALTEX or doctoral dissertations. For example, reports on the activities and achievements of the t4 (transatlantic think thank of toxicology) project have regularly been published (please read more about the project at the following link: http://www.doerenkamp.ch/en/default.html?id=96).


A paper on another project furthered by the Foundation which has been running at the University of Geneva has recently been published in ALTEX. This paper entitled “Use of in vivo biotinylated GST fusion proteins to select recombinant antibodies” provides an insight into the project and procedures dealing with the selection of recombinant antibodies using in vitro models. As the results suggest this model has a strong potential to replace animal immunization for the development of specific antibodies. (for more info please click the following link: http://www.altex.ch/All-issues/Issue.50.html?iid=147&aid=4)


The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair at the University of Konstanz in Germany has just provided the scientific community with an article titled “Generation of genetically-modified human differentiated cells for toxicological tests and the study of neurodegenerative diseases”. The focus of the paper is determination whether genetic modifications in the proliferating state of LUHMES cells could be used for experiments in the differentiated post-mitotic neurons. For more information please visit the ALTEX website at which the full text of the article is available free of charge (http://www.altex.ch/Current-issue.16.html?aid=2).


Another project supported by the Foundation has recently provided a publication in the field of in vitro assays. The publication entitled “Biokinetics and repeated exposure in in vitro assays: A detailed study into the behavior of chlorpromazine and diazepam in different cell systems” is a doctoral dissertation defended at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. 

For more information about the dissertation please click on the figure (left).


The Doerenkamp Zbinden Foundation is happy to be able to share with you the outstanding results of its projects published in a renowned scientific journal on alternatives to animal testing such as ALTEX and hopes to continue doing so for many years to come.


Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation needs help

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation was created in 1985 on the initiative of a wealthy Canadian citizen with German origin, Hildegard Doerenkamp (1921-2011) who at that time lived in Switzerland, and Prof. Gerhard Zbinden (1924-19933), a world-wide recognized toxicologist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Toxicology and the University of Zurich. They both had one goal: “all unnecessary animal experimentations, particularly those involving dogs and other companion animals, should be replaced with modern and clinically-relevant testing systems". The Foundation has been a real success. After a university chair in Erlangen in Germany, which was privately started and financed by Hildegard Doerenkamp, additional five university chairs have been established worldwide. These chairs in Konstanz (Germany), Geneva (Switzerland), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Baltimore (USA) and Tiruchirappalli (India) have been directly founded and financed by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation. In Tiruchirappalli has even been built an institute named a “Mahatma-Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center for alternatives to the use of animals in life science education". Alongside with the university chairs the Foundation supports big and small research projects in which it has been up to now invested more than 30 Million Swiss francs. The percentage of the foundation’s management costs is very low and lies under 10% of all annual costs.


Donors who would contribute in financing of the university chairs are sought. The means in the amount of circa 600’000 Euros annually, which the Foundation cannot gain anymore over its investments in the banks in Switzeland and Germany, are needed. Contributions may be made via the tax-exempted Foundation or directly to the university chairs. The sponsors may influence the name of a chair if desired.

Please be free to contact the foundation’s office.

 

Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation

PD Dr. Franz P. Gruber

Weinmanngasse 86

8700 Kuesnacht ZH

Switzerland

fpg@doerenkamp.ch - www.doerenkamp.ch



Doerenkamp-Zbinden Professor Marcel Leist receives Felix Wankel Animal Welfare Research Award

Marcel Leist, Doerenkamp-Zbinden chair of in-vitro toxicology and biomedicine and co-director of CAAT-Europe at the University of Konstanz, has been awarded the Felix Wankel Animal Welfare Research Award* for his work on in vitro test systems in the area of reproductive toxicology. The work used differentiating stem cells to model human nervous system development and disturbances. He shares this prestigious award with Stephan Reichl, who was recognized for his work on human cornea models.

 

*The Felix-Wankel-Animal-Welfare-Research-Award is usually given every two years by Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich for outstanding experimental and innovative scientific papers aiming at or resulting in the replacement or reduction of animal testing, the general fostering of the idea of animal protection, ensuring the health and the appropriate housing of laboratory animals, pets and livestock, or supporting core research for the purpose of enhancing animal protection. The Award is endowed with up to 30,000 Euros.

t4 project extension for 2 years

On 23rd of April 2012 the Board of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation approved a 2-year extension of the t4 project (transatlantic-think-tank-toxicology). The goal of the project is to, following the developments of the toxicology field in the USA (Tox 21c), bring topics such as animal-free toxicology research to be intensively discussed in Europe too.  With the extension of the project the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation provides an attempt to replace the discontinued ECVAM-Workshops. All t4-Reports and t4-Workshop-Reports will be published in ALTEX (Alternatives to Animal Experimentation www.altex.ch)

 

The concept

t4 is a collaboration of the toxicology oriented DZF chairs and was created with the following aims:

  • to analyze current tools and programs and model / forecast the likely outcome with regard to safety and economic burden (cost/benefit analyses)
  • to compare different approaches on an international scale (especially transatlantic) and support harmonization
  • to further the concept of an evidence-based toxicology (EBT) following the role model of evidence-based medicine
  • to develop and assess the conceptual needs to enable the change of approaches (predictive toxicology, integrated testing, systems toxicology, organotypic and stem cell cultures)
  • to create and maintain information platforms (AltWeb, ALTEX, TestSmart workshops, etc.) to further the paradigm change in toxicology


Foundation Board approves one-year bridge payment for ReTox-21c project

The Project „Modeling of pathways of developmental neurotoxicity as pilot of a paradigm shift for regulatory safety assessments of chemicals – phase 2” will be financed by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation for the time period of one year. This is a bridge payment as the final decision about the future funding of the project is expected from NIH (National Institute of Health, USA). The furtherance initiates the start of laboratory work at the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and will be realized in a close cooperation with Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair at the University in Konstanz in Germany. 


Topping out ceremony in India

On 1 Oktober 2011 the president of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, Franz P. Gruber, and the chair holder of the Doerenkamp-Naef-Zbinden chair at the University of Geneva, Pierre Cosson, visited the Mahatma-Gandhi-Doerenkamp-Center at the University of Bharathidasan in Tiruchirappalli/Tamil Nadu, India. They represented the Foundation and attended the official topping out ceremony of the centre.  
 
Photo: (1st row from left to right) (3) Prof.Dr. Pierre Cosson, the Doerenkamp-Naef-Zbinden Chair; (4) Dr. Franz P. Gruber, president of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation; (5) Dr. Meena, Honorable Vice-Chancellor; (7) Prof. Dr. Mohammad Abdelkader Akbarsha, the Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair
 
Photo: president of the Dorenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, Dr. Franz P. Gruber, cuts the ribbon at the entrance of the Mahatma-Gandhi-Doerenkamp-Center at the University of Bharathidasan (called Doerenkamp Enclave)

Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair Thomas Hartung, Director of CAAT, receives 6 Million $ NIH grant

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) has received a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pioneer potentially revolutionary new methods for toxicological testing to improve human health and reduce animal testing.


CAAT Director Thomas Hartung, MD, PhD, and his team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, along with partner Agilent Technologies and noted scientists from government and industry, received the funding for a consortium to develop a new technological methodology for mapping the molecular pathways of toxicity within cells. Funding for the project comes from the Common Fund’s NIH Director’s Transformative Research Projects Program (R01), which is designed to support exceptionally innovative, high risk, original and/or unconventional research that has the potential to create or overturn fundamental scientific paradigms.


Current toxicological testing relies on a patchwork of 40+-year-old animal tests that are expensive (more than $3 billion per year), time-consuming, and often provide results of limited predictive value for human health. The low-throughput of current toxicity testing approaches (which are largely the same for industrial chemicals, pesticides, and drugs) has led to a backlog of more than 80,000 chemicals for which potential toxicity remains largely unknown.


Scientific understanding of how genes, proteins, and small molecules interact to form molecular pathways that maintain cell function has evolved rapidly, thanks to advances in molecular and computational tools. Pathways that lead to adverse health effects when perturbed are referred to as pathways of toxicity (PoT). “Mapping the entirety of these pathways—which I’ve termed the ‘Human Toxome’—will be a large-scale effort, perhaps on the order of the Human Genome Project,” Hartung says.
As a first step to mapping the Human Toxome, Hartung and his collaborators have proposed comprehensively mapping the pathways of endocrine disruption, a perturbation of the hormonal system that can cause tumors, birth defects, and developmental disorders. The physiological pathways of the endocrine system are relatively well understood, making PoT identification simpler than for other potential targets. The team will develop a common, community-accessible framework that will enable the toxicology community at large to comprehensively and cooperatively map the human toxome using integrated testing strategies that combine “omics” (transcriptomics and metabolomics) data with computational models. The consortium will also create a public database of PoT, enabling full access to researchers around the world.


Along with Hartung, the other principal investigators include James Yager (Bloomberg School of Public Health); Robert Kavlock, Director of the National Center for Computational Toxicology at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Michael Rosenberg, Director of Genomics Software Life Science Group at leading systems biology technology provider Agilent Technologies; Mel Andersen, Associate Director of the Hamner Institute for Health Sciences; Kim Boekelheide, Professor of Medical Sciences at Brown University; and Albert J. Fornace, Jr., Molecular Cancer Research Chair at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center.


Additional information on Thomas Hartung and the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing may be found at:
http://caat.jhsph.edu


Hildegard Doerenkamp passed away

It is my sad duty to announce that Hildegard Doerenkamp passed away on February 21st, 2011 in a hospital in the black forest, Germany after a short but severe illness. She died a painless and peaceful death in dignity.
Ms Doerenkamp explicitly denied intensive-medical care to prolongate her life.

Her urn will be buried in Canada where she spent the happiest years of her life. Only her family and her nearest friends will accompany her on this last way.

Franz P. Gruber
President DZF

Obituary Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation

After a short, severe illness, Ms Hildegard Doerenkamp, cofounder of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, passed away on 21 February 2011 at the age of 90. She had been living by herself in the Black Forest, Germany, no longer wanting to endure living in retirement homes or hotels. She was self-sufficient and had finally regained her independence, which she had valued highly all her life.


Ms Doerenkamp loved the outdoors. She enjoyed farming and managed farms in the lower Rhine area, Germany, in Graubuenden, Switzerland, and in Nova Scotia, Canada. Looking back she always called the fifteen years she spent in Canada, where she also took on Canadian citizenship, the best years of her life. Her Canadian neighbors, who were very sad to hear of her sudden death, wrote me: “She was a great lady with a zest for life and great determination. We are very sad to have lost a good old friend.”


After Hildegard Doerenkamp first met Professor Gerhard Zbinden in 1982 (he died far too soon in 1993), she became increasingly fascinated by scientific animal protection. Together with him she founded the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation (DZF) in 1985. In recent years, six university chairs for alternatives to animal experiments were established in Erlangen (Germany, paid by Ms Doerenkamp personally),  Konstanz (Germany), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Baltimore (USA), Geneva (Switzerland) and Tiruchirappalli (India), with the support of the DZF. The history of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation is detailed at www.doerenkamp.ch.


It was her highest maxim that the DZF should always be completely independent. It collects no donations and accepts no money from the state or from industry. This independence of political fashions and other pressures, which ensue from external financing, will be upheld after her death in accordance with her wishes. Ms Doerenkamp gladly accepted advice and suggestions, but never without an in-depth analysis of them. She read a lot (an enthusiastic ALTEX reader from the first hour) and asked a lot. Often, her highly specific questions even led one to question, whether one had really understood all details of the subject oneself. She made no secret of her special love of dogs and, with the sovereignty of age she flouted philosophical objections to preferring one species over another. She enjoyed baffling her discussion partners with her statement that she cared least about primates – they being too similar to humans, with whom she really did not get along at all. Of course she never missed qualifying such statements with irony. She was confidant enough to also laugh about herself. Ms Doerenkamp suffered from bad hearing. When the Allies attacked Cologne she refused to use the air raid shelter and lay down in the grass in her parents’ garden. The shock waves of the bombs severely damaged her hearing. Conversations with her were always conducted with pencil and paper, the work of the Foundation was managed over years by an almost daily exchange of faxes. 
The Foundation was her life’s work; she regularly, especially in the years of the global economic crisis, asked after the financial state of the Foundation and was relieved that the careful investment strategy she had demanded let the Foundation glide easily through these difficult years. She was glad to repeatedly add additional donations from her private fortune when the Foundation would have been unable to found a university chair from its own reserves.  


With Hildegard Doerenkamp’s passing we have lost a great lady. She was honorary senator of the University of Erlangen/Nürnberg, memorial plaques honor her at the Institute for Companion Animals at the Faculty for Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht and the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, in India the newly built Center for Alternative Methods, which was financed by the Foundation, was named the Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp-Center. But apart from these honors, she has the far greater gratitude of all those, whose life she influenced decisively, whom her convictions and support led to adjust their (scientific) direction. In this it was always important to her that her contribution led not only to the protection of animals but also to better medicine for humans developed using more humane research methods. 

Ms Doerenkamp prepared her passing in detail. She categorically refused intensive medical care to prolong her life. Her urn will be buried on her former farm in Canada. Our trip to perform this last mandate will be a melancholy one. May she smile down upon the further progress of her life’s work with increasing pride.
Our sympathy is with Ms Doerenkamp’s daughter.

Franz Paul Gruber,

*in the name of the foundation board, the scientific advisory committee and the office staff of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation as well as the Doerenkamp chairs in Erlangen, Konstanz, Utrecht, Baltimore, Genf and Tiruchy


Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair Konstanz: Obituary Hildegard Doerenkamp

Loud statements, wild activities and focus on a nice wrapping are not required to make significant contributions to our world, to change people’s lives, and in this special case, also animal’s lives. This is what we will remember of Hildegard Doerenkamp’s attitude.

I came to know her as a shy person, living withdrawn from the public, not wanting to have even her picture shown on the website of the foundation she created. At the same time, we came to know her as a cheerful person, on the few occasions she met with the people involved in the research of her foundation. Usually a hard working day, driven by her focussed questions, was coupled with a dinner, at which diet or abstinence were considered bad style and tiredness before midnight bad behaviour. This still was true, when she approached the age of 90. And also at that age, only few months before her death, I experienced again her still sharp mind, when we discussed a novel by Joseph Conrad via FAX exchange. I am glad for these colourful memories and for the opportunity to have shared moments of life with HD, as she was called neutrally and quietly by loving insiders.

As holder of one of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden endowed chairs, I am in a good position to appreciate the impact of HD’s major achievements during the last phase of her life – all linked to the foundation of the private Doerenkamp-Zbinden foundation together with the prominent Swiss toxicologist Gerald Zbinden. Apart from the chair in Konstanz (focused on in vitro methods), another one was established in Erlangen (in vivo bioimaging), in Utrecht (risk assessment), and in Geneva (model organisms and infection biology). The organisation also reached out beyond Europe with the foundation of the Mahatma-Ghandi-Doerenkamp Center in Tiruchirappalli (India), and the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair at the Johns-Hopkins University in Baltimore. Networking of the chairs has been supported by sponsoring of the transatlantic think tank in toxicology (t4), and the centre for alternative methods to animal testing in Europe (CAAT-Europe), which is a joint venture of Konstanz and Johns-Hopkins University. All this world-spanning academic activity, in essence going back to the initiative and financial support by a single person, is at the moment the biggest individual advance in this field of research, and will persist far beyond the life of one person. Like many others, I am deeply grateful to HD, highly impressed by this achievement and genuinely sorry that Hildegard Doerenkamp cannot further observe the further development of her work.


Marcel Leist
(for all members of the Doerenkam-Zbinden Chair at the University of Konstanz)



Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair India: Obituary Hildegard Doerenkamp

History has seen innumerable animal lovers but none like Ms. Hildegard Doerenkamp, the Co-founder of Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, who passed away on Feb 21, 2011.  While all others either rescued suffering animals, took care of animals in shelters, treated them of wounds/illness, fought to safeguard the interests/rights of animals or participated in organizations/movements in support of animal welfare, Ms. Doerenkamp made a big difference in dedicating her entire huge wealth and the entire later part of her life towards the cause of animals and established a foundation to be run by a highly competent Foundation Board. She guided the Foundation Board till her last breath in animal welfare activities with a difference - care for laboratory animals. The approach was also different- to award prizes for the best scientific contributions in laboratory animal well being, provide grants for research towards this goal, and establishing Endowed Chairs at Universities. Ms Doerenkamp would have physically passed away but she lives through the six Doerenkamp Chairs, at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, USA), University of Utrecht (Utrecht, The Netherlands), University of Konstanz (Konstanz, Germany), Bharathidasan University (Tiruchrappalli, India), University of Geneva (Geneva, Switzerland) and University of Erlangen (Erlangen, Germany). Until she fell ill for a very brief period before passing away, she was personally reviewing the progress made by each of the Chairs. Her support, through the Foundation, to ALTEX and CAAT-USA is unprecedented.  The establishment of CAAT-Europe, entirely seeded from the Foundation funds, has been a milestone. Her support for the World Congresses on Alternatives, and several other meets in several places across the world talk volumes about the kind of patronage she gave for laboratory animals. 

It is unfortunate for me that though I am one of her Chairs, I was not blessed with a meeting with her. She was specially and emotionally attached with her “Mission India”, the Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center, as I could perceive from the care extended through the Foundation Board. She made a difference in this mission also, by emphasizing education rather than research. Was it because India is lagging behind in awareness about cruelty inflicted on animals in education, research and testing or she realized that her Chair and his team are capable of sensitizing and motivating Regulatory Authorities, Scientists, Teachers, and Students towards minimizing animal use and humane treatment to animals that are still used. And her India Chair is the only one for whom she provided for a building from the Foundation fund. As was conveyed to me, she was very much looking forward to inauguration of this building. I am guilty that I could not get the building ready for inauguration before she breathed last. She loved all her Chairs but loved her India Chair more. Where as the news that she passed away made me sad, the message that she wrote her last letter to her India Chair, the first too, made me shed tears. She revealed her expectations about her India Chair in this letter, and I vow not only to fulfill the expectations but to make the Doerenkamp Enclave at Bharathidasan University a fitting monument to her. I and all those associated with her “Mission India”, join in prayer with all the millions of voiceless animal beings whom she helped, for a very pleasant “life hereafter”.

 “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end”. —Qur'an 6:38
 

Mohammad Akbdulkader Akbarsha
(Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center)

Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair Utrecht: Obituary Hildegard Doerenkamp

In memoriam Ms. Hildegard Doerenkamp.
On 21 February, Ms. Hildegard Doerenkamp passed away after a brief illness at
the age of 90. Together with the Swiss toxicologist Gerhard Zbinden, she was the
founder of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation. Since 1982, the foundation has
encouraged research to find alternatives for animal testing. Ms. Doerenkamp’s
passion for the subject was encouraged by Prof. Zbinden’s arguments against
what he saw as unnecessary legally mandatory laboratory animal tests, especially with regard to the LD50 experiments. This led to her using private funds to support Prof. Zbinden’s research, and eventually to the creation of the
foundation. Since then, researchers around the world working to find alternatives
to animal testing have benefitted from grants provided by the foundation and
from the coveted Doerenkamp-Zbinden Awards. Dutch award winners include our
own professors Bert van Zutphen and Coenraad Hendriksen as well as Herman
Köeter.

A few years ago, the foundation began financing chair endowments, including the
“Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for Alternatives to Animal Testing in Toxicological
Risk Assessment” at the IRAS. I had the honour of meeting Ms. Doerenkamp at the beginning of this project. Despite her advanced age, she inspired those around her with her interest in new scientific developments and by her enthusiastic and witty commentary. We remember a remarkable, extremely lively lady, whose donations of her financial resources enabled many others to reach the goals she supported so passionately. In her spirit, we will continue to advance our research on alternatives for laboratory animal testing in toxicology.


On behalf of the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences,
Bas Blaauboer

Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center founded in India

Between the Bharathidasan University in Tiruchirappalli/Tamil Nadu/India and the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation in Kuesnacht ZH/Switzerland a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 15th July 2009.
A "Mahatma-Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center for alternatives to the use of animals in life science education" was founded. A Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair will be established. The inauguration will be on 2nd October 2009, at the 140th birthsday of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Center is a joint venture between the Bharathidasan University, the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation and People for Animals, Chennai.
 
Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center for alternatives to animal use in life science education and in vitro toxicology

A Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center for alternatives to animal use in life science education and in vitro toxicology was established as a national center for alternatives in India at Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. The Bharathidasan University is a renowned university under the University Grants Commission of the Government of India. The mandate of the Center is to synergise the Gandhian philosophy of “Ahimsa” or “Non-Violence” with the teaching/research of life sciences. The Center was established with the generous financial support of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, Switzerland, and includes the establishment of a “Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair” for alternatives in biomedical education. The Center was established in the belief that promoting humane science is an imperative scientific, legal, psycho-social, ecological and economic need. The Center will strive to create a strong positive presence of alternatives to the use of animals in India, thereby promoting quality and excellence in life science education, research and testing by way of continuous training programmes, an alternatives knowledge base, a library and a certificate/diploma/post-graduate diploma programme in alternative methods.

The Center will also bring together stakeholders in the 3Rs, i.e. academia, scientific community, industry, government and animal welfare personnel from national/international levels, to raise the awareness and facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on alternatives to translate the vision of the 3Rs into policy and curricular changes in India as relevant to education and research. The Center will also help by way of funding the research and development of environmentally friendly pedagogical tools and in vitro alternative methods for life science teaching and research. The twin approach will be to encourage the use of e-tools, to help establish virtual learning centres for teaching, and to establish a state-of-the-art cell culture laboratory for training in non-animal methods of research and product testing. The Center will essentially be a service provider for non-animal methods in learning, research and testing. 

The Center is the fruitful culmination of a decade’s work of People for Animals, Chennai, and I-CARE, Chennai, in promoting the concept of the 3Rs in India.

Prof. Akbarsha, Trichy, India
 
Gandhi-Gruber-Doerenkamp Chair for Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Life Science Education:

Prof. Dr. Mohammad Abdulkader Akbarsha
Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center
Bharathidasan University
Tiruchirappalli – 620 024
Tamilnadu, India
Email: akbarbdu@yahoo.com

See:
Movement to Curtail Animal Dissections in Zoology Curriculum: review of the Indian Experience
ALTEX 24 (3), 163-166
 
http://www.bdu.ac.in/mgdc/

USA: Inauguration of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair at Johns Hopkins University

Cheer for chair – some observations from the inauguration of Thomas Hartung as the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for Evidence-based Toxicology


The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Johns Hopkins (named after Johns Hopkins, who left $7 million in his will 1873 – at the time, this was the largest philanthropic bequest in US history equivalent to $131 million in the year 2006) has graduate programs in medicine, public health, music, and international studies. Johns Hopkins is one of the top universities in the world – for example it ranked first of 20 top US academic institutions in total research & development spending for the 29th  year in a row. And Johns Hopkins is known to entertain already for 28 years the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), which became under the leadership of its founder Prof. Alan Goldberg a key promoter for alternative methods in the US, best known for its website AltWeb (http://altweb. jhsph.edu/) and the TestSmart workshops and conferences (last on developmental neurotoxicity in November 2008). It was not easy to find somebody to succeed Alan Goldberg, who turns 70 this fall: For more than four years, search committees looked for a candidate with a reputation and academic standing adequate for this prominent position.

Thomas Hartung fulfilled these criteria – a professor from the University of Konstanz, Germany, with more than 300 scientific papers and from 2002 to 2008 head of ECVAM, the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods. When asked what made him change to the US, his answer was quick: “The fantastic environment of Hopkins and the enthusiastic discussion on a paradigm shift in toxicology stirred by the vision report from the US National Academy of Sciences”. The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation enabled this change by endowing a chair for evidence-based toxicology linked to CAAT. On the basis of this endowment Hopkins commits to maintain a chair with this research direction until the university ceases to exist.

Thomas Hartung on the "chair" and Alan Goldberg

On 12th of May 2009, we were able to witness the celebration of the inauguration, which demonstrated impressively, how much the university embraces this donation and this area of research. University president Ron Daniels and Dean Michael Klag left no doubt about their full support, expressing their appreciation for the past of CAAT and their expectations for seeing it further flourish in the future.

In an entertaining presentation, Thomas Hartung laid out some stations of his career, which led him to Baltimore. As a thought starter, he recalled when he synthesized aspirin as a student of biochemistry and medicine in Tuebingen, Germany. Seeing the result of his work, he wondered whether he would dare to swallow it. Most probably not, if he would rely on to todate’s toxicology, which has shown that the chemical is “harmful if swallowed”, a skin, eye and respiratory irritant, a co-carcinogen and embryotoxic in cat, dog, rat, mouse and monkey. Good that there was no toxicology in 1899 – the drug would hardly have made it to the market. In marked contrast, after one million billions of pills taken by men, annual production is close to 50 thousand tons and sales close to $ 800 million. Hartung then showed, how his mentor Albrecht Wendel, Tuebingen and Konstanz, guided him toward pharmacology and toxicology, citing former FDA president Arnold Lehmann “You too can become a toxicologist in two easy lessons, each ten years long.“ He continued showing how the years in ECVAM with the European Commission have shaped his view on toxicology and the need for new approaches. The close collaboration with Alan Goldberg and CAAT during these years enabled a smooth transition now. Among others Hartung and Goldberg published in 2005 an article in Scientific American (later translated into Arabian, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portugese, Spanish and other) entitled “Protecting more than animals”. This describes well their joint approach, which stresses that humane science is the best science – to protect consumers and patients as well as animals.

Finally, Hartung explained again his concept to translate evidence-based Medicine to toxicology (see also his article in 2/09 issue of Altex). All together, an entertaining presentation, which set the scene for prospects in research, education and the “CAATalyst” role of the center. 

The Doerenkamp-Zbinden foundation is proud to have helped install at such prominent place a chair to support the paradigm shift in toxicology. The choice of the inaugural professor raises hopes as to the contribution to be expected.  By supporting the Transatlantic Think Tank of Toxicology (t4) – a collaboration of the toxicology oriented Doerenkamp-Zbinden chairs in Konstanz, Utrecht and Baltimore – the support continues to make a new approach in toxicology possible. The photographs from the inauguration give an impression of the event – a milestone on the long road to go.


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USA: A new Doerenkamp-Zbinden chair in Baltimore

In December 08 the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore/USA entered a contract with the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation in Kuesnacht ZH/Switzerland that will enable Johns Hopkins University to install a permanent Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for evidence based toxicology. The Foundation dedicates this chair to its scientific founder, the toxicologist Gerhard Zbinden of Zurich.

Thomas Hartung, former head of ECVAM (European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods), who already guaranteed good relations between European and US authorities in that function, shall be appointed to the chair. Hartung will also take over as director of CAAT, the first Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing established worldwide, whose first director, Alan Goldberg, has been an honorary member of the scientific advisory committee of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation for many years.

Large projects have already been initiated: the T4-Project, which shall connect the two continents and closely link up the DZF Chairs, is already introduced in ALTEX 1/08.

The Doerenkamp Zbinden Foundation has followed the strategy to establish university chairs in addition to supporting research projects very successfully since 2003. Nevertheless, January of 2009 represents a milestone in its promotion of alternative methods. For the first time a chair for alternative methods will be established outside of Europe. And if we may further trust in the evolving dynamics of this foundation, it will likely not be the last.


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EU/USA: A transatlantic think tank of toxicology (t4)

The foundation board of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation (DZF) decided to create a toxicological think tank (working name t4 – Transatlantic Think Tank of Toxicology) with the following aims:
-          analyse current tools and programs and model / forecast the likely outcome with regard to safety and economical burden (cost/benefit analyses)
-          compare different approaches on an international scale (especially transatlantic) and support harmonization
-          further the concept of an evidence-based toxicology (EBT) following the role model of evidence-based medicine
-          develop and assess the conceptual needs to enable change of approaches (predictive toxicology, integrated testing, systems toxicology, organo-typic and stem cell cultures)
-          create and maintain the information platforms (AltWeb, ALTEX, TestSmart workshops etc.) to further paradigm change in toxicology

In order to set-up such a structure, the Doerenkamp-Zbinden-Foundation with its professorships created in Konstanz and Utrecht shall collaborate with the Johns Hopkins Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT). The think tank shall prepare and disseminate high-quality analyses of toxicological problems. They shall be disseminated by AltWeb (CAAT) and the journal ALTEX (DZF). For this purpose it is suggested to make ALTEX an International Journal for Alternatives in Testing and Experimentation, with an additional American editor. With the “food for thought” series of articles, the journal has started to establish itself as a platform for novel concepts in toxicology. By publishing now beyond questions raised high-quality analyses this role shall be further profiled. The established structures of CAAT (stakeholder outreach, AltWeb, TestSmart series of workshops etc.) shall be employed to further disseminate concepts. The CAAT funding program shall be focused on work related to the paradigm change in toxicology, i.e. pilot studies for novel methodologies and also (desktop) analyses in the sense of the think tank. A series of workshops with invited experts shall complement this program.


                                                                                                     Pressrelease DZF

CH: A Doerenkamp-Naef-Zbinden Chair in Geneva

 
The contract to establish a Chair for Alternative Methods at the University of Geneva was concluded with determination and much confidence of success. The stakeholders: the medical faculty of the University of Geneva, the Egon-Naef Foundation and the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation. The five-year contract was signed on the 29th of November 2008 in Geneva on occasion of a ceremony introducing the new chairholder.  

Pierre Cosson, who has been very successful in the area of invertebrate immunology for many years, has been appointed as chairholder. Cosson could prove surprising parallels between the pathogenicity of microorganisms in amoebocytes (which can be found in the earth of every flower pot) and mammals. Supported by the 3R Research Foundation Switzerland (www.forschung3r.ch), Pierre Cosson established a study group on the identification of pathological correlations in invertebrates. Cosson is introduced in more detail in the Info-Bulletin 36 of the 3R Research Foundation Switzerland: http://www.forschung3r.ch/de/publications/bu36.html.

The chair will carry the name “Doerenkamp-Naef-Zbinden Chair for Alternative Methods”. Pierre Cosson will not only cover invertebrate immunology, but the entire scope of alternative methods. For this purpose he will organise regular guest lectures and lecture courses on the subject of 3R methods at the University of Geneva.

The DZF has especially high hopes for the centre for the production of in vitro antibodies that Cosson intends to establish. This method has been known for years - it was already introduced in 1995 in a bulletin of the 3R Research Foundation Switzerland, www.forschung3r.ch/de/publications/bu5.html
<http://www.forschung3r.ch/de/publications/bu5.html>, but was never followed up by the authors. According to Cosson, the method still suffered technical difficulties at that time. A series of failed attempts resulted in the abandonment of this promising technology. In the meantime, most problems have been eliminated, so that the only remaining obstacle to routine use of the method is the lack of willpower of many potential users. Furnished with special funds of the DZF, an antibody laboratory, which shall routinely produce recombinant antibodies in vitro will now be established at the University of Geneva. Some hundred thousand rabbits worldwide can hardly wait. 


                                                                                                     pressrelease DZF

Press Release from Utrecht University

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 6 November 2008

New professor studies alternatives to animal testing

‘Cell culture and computer model can replace animal testing’

The health risks for people who are exposed to toxic substances are now mainly based on data from animal testing. Thanks to the advancement of biological expertise combined with the use of computer models, those risks can be assessed more and more accurately without having to use animals as a model for humans. These new strategies, which lead to the use of fewer test animals, should much stronger be encouraged by the government, Bas Blaauboer argued in his inaugural lecture on 4 November at Utrecht University. Blaauboer is professor of the Toxicology Division of the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS).

 
Blaauboer was appointed professor for 'Alternatives to animal testing for toxicological risk assessment'. He will be looking for possibilities to eliminate the need for ‘second species animals’. In this case, after testing on rats or mice, a substance is tested again on a larger mammal, such as a dog. In medical research, for example, this second round of testing is still required by law.
The Swiss 'Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation', which supports research into the reduction of test animal use, will fund the new chair for an amount of over € 1.5 million.

Toxicology as guardian of health

Toxicology studies the risks posed by substances to people's health. These substances can be found in food, medicines, cleaning products or cosmetics, but also in materials that people come into contact with during their work. These health risks are now mainly assessed via animal testing. ‘The government determines which tests must be performed before a substance or product can be marketed,’ explains Blaauboer. ‘Thanks to advancements in working with cell cultures and computer calculations, however, we can now also assess and predict the toxic effects of substances accurately without animal testing. We are better, for example, at translating the knowledge obtained at the cellular level into effects in people. For this we use computer simulations that calculate the absorption, distribution and metabolism of substances in the body. Many of these methods already are available and can be used to assess risks. The government should be encouraging the use and acceptance of these new methods without test animals to a much greater extent.’

Broad expertise relating to test animals present within Utrecht University

The Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) is an interfaculty research institute of Utrecht University, supported by the faculties of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Science. Apart from the Toxicology Division, IRAS also has divisions for Environment-Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health. The new chair was created at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, where within the Department of Animals, Science and Society (DWM) broad scientific expertise and experience are present in the field of test animal science and alternatives to animal testing. DWM has departments for Test Animal Science and for Ethology and Welfare. Additionally, it provides accommodation for the National Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing (NCA). On 5–7 February 2009, DWM and NCA will be organising an international symposium on the use of test animals in a changing world, among other things, in connection with the ‘Cabinet View on Alternatives to Animal Testing’ that was published earlier this year.

Further information

Sebastiaan Fluitsma, Veterinary Medicine Information Officer, +31 30 253 47 22, s.fluitsma@uu.nl.

Or Wietske de Lange, Utrecht University Press Officer, +31 30 253 40 73, w.delange@uu.nl.

Website Utrecht University: www.uu.nl/EN.

NL/CH: Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair founded at Utrecht University

On the 13th of February 2008, in the office of the dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht, the faculty director, the director
of the Institute for Risk Assessment (IRAS) and the president of the Foundation
Board of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation (Zurich) signed a contract to
establish an endowed chair at the University of Utrecht for initially six years, with
the intention to extend it to eight years. In its function, the chair is especially dedicated to the memory of the toxicologist Gerhard Zbinden of Zurich (1924-1993). This is an important signal, which will further anchor the 3R principle in
academia. The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for Alternative Methods in Toxicology,
which will be held by Bas Blaauboer, will aim especially to reach the following research goals stipulated in the contract:
• Biotransformation of compounds in human in vitro systems.
• Use of in vitro models to study mechanisms of toxicity.
• Development of QSAR models for the estimation of relevant toxic endpoints.
• Development and implementation of PBBK models for the interpretation of in
vitro toxicity data for their relevance of exposure scenarios.
• Research in the factors and actors involved in the implementation of alternative
methods in regulatory processes.
• The replacement and reduction in the use of companion animals, especially
dogs and rabbits, has priority in all the mentioned research lines.

Thus, two years after Marcel Leist took the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for in
vitro alternative methods in Konstanz the second chair in Europe dedicated purely to alternative methods has been established. A close cooperation between the endowed chairs in Konstanz and Utrecht has been ensured by setting up scientific advisory committees, in both of which the president of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation holds a seat and vote.
With this chair also the seeking for the leadership in the project "Companion Animals" has found a happy end.
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Doerenkamp-Zbinden Chair for Alternative Methods in Konstanz taken up

On the 17th of July 2003 Professor Kay Brune (University of Erlangen), then president of the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, and Bernhard Koch, member of the governing council and President of the Thurgau Foundation for Science and Research signed an agreement between the two foundations to establish and finance an „Endowed Chair for in vitro Methods for the Replacement of Animal Experiments” at the University of Konstanz (reported in ALTEX 2/2003, p. 99).

By establishing and financing this professorship, the foundations followed the shared goal to develop alternative methods to animal experiments in the areas of health and consumer protection in an international context, to evaluate them and to prepare their implementation in national and international guidelines through interdisciplinary scientific research. The Chair shall be financed by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation with 300.000 € per year for 10 years. After both four and eight years the Chair shall be evaluated. Next to evaluating the performance in research and teaching, the first evaluation shall include a recommendation on whether the Endowed Chair should be terminated or continued. The second evaluation shall determine whether the Chair has reached its goal to integrate modern animal protection in research and teaching and to implement it successfully within Europe and, most importantly, whether the Endowed Chair should be extended after the end of ten years financed by the state.

After advertisement of the position in November 2003, the appointment committee decided on a list of three candidates in the summer of 2004. The position was offered by the university to the first-placed candidate in April of 2005 after numerous clarifications and discussions with the Ministry of Science in Stuttgart. The negotiations culminated in the acceptance of the position in March 2006 by the first-placed candidate.

The first chair-holder of the Endowed Chair for in vitro Methods for the Replacement of Animal Experiments will be the biologist Marcel Leist, born in 1964 in Freiburg/Brsg. Leist studied biochemistry in Tübingen and completed his studies in 1989 at the University of Surry (Guildford-GB) with a Master of Science in Toxicology. He worked on his Ph.D. at the University of Konstanz from 1990 to 1993 in the field of apoptosis, inflammation and the effects of TNF on hepatocyte cultures. He became laboratory manager in the working group Vitamins and Atherosclerosis at the German Institute for Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke and worked there on selenoenzymes and Vitamin E, then returned to the University of Konstanz where he was appointed at the Chair of Molecular Toxicology from 1995 to 1998 and gained his venia docendi. In 2000, Leist was employed by the company H. Lundbeck A/S in Denmark. His work led him through mechanisms of neuroprotection, neuroinflammation and cytokine receptors; he focussed on membrane proteins that promise new intervention possibilities for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and schizophrenia. As a university lecturer he supervised students of the neurosciences at the University of Copenhagen. Designated for a top position in Lundbeck research, Leist declined this offer in favour of the Endowed Chair in Konstanz. 

We wish Marcel Leist a good start and naturally hopes that many synergies will develop with the Chair in close proximity.


Updated March 26, 2018