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

The Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Centre (MGDC) for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education

Location: Bharathidasan University, (Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India)

Date of establishment: 2009

Duration of contract: 5 years

End of furtherance: 2014

Chairholder: Prof. dr. Mohammad A. Akbarsha


Within the framework of the chair a “Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center (MGDC) for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education” has been established. This center has multilateral objectives such as:

  • To work for dispensing with use of animals in education as part of Life Sciences & Biomedical Science curriculum through in-house and outstation programs.
  • To sensitize the stake-holders to minimize the use of animals in research and testing/risk assessment and to motivate them to practice the alternatives to the best extent possible, thus to propagate the 3Rs concept. 
  • To bring together stakeholders in the 3Rs to raise the awareness / facilitate the exchange of information/ideas on alternatives by way of seminars, workshops, congresses, etc.
  • To help by way of funding the development and research of environmental friendly pedagogical tools and in vitro and in silico alternative methods for teaching and research.
  • To encourage the use of e-tools and establish a virtual learning centre for teaching.
  • To establish a state-of-the-art cell / tissue culture facility for training in non-animal methods of research and product testing.
  • To help institutions across the country to establish cell / tissue culture facilities and encourage changing from in vivo to in vitro  approach in drug discovery, toxicity testing and product analysis.
  • To offer programs on animal alternatives.
  • To provide expertise and guidance on the 3Rs and laboratory animal welfare to the teaching / scientific community by developing a range of resources, including guidelines and training material.
  • To liaise with national educational councils such as University Grants Commission (UGC), Medical Counsel of India (MCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), etc., and State Education Departments for curricular development to promote the knowledge and use of alternatives 

For more information about the team, projects and activities of the Centre at Bharathidasan University please click the following link:


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