NC3Rs e-newsletter - March 2017


Study looking at natural behaviours of lab rats wins an international 3Rs prize

A paper investigating the welfare of laboratory rats has won the NC3Rs 2016 international 3Rs prize, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr Joanna Makowska and her colleague Dr Daniel Weary from the University of British Columbia, Canada, have provided evidence of the importance of simple and natural behaviours such as burrowing and standing upright (rearing) to rat welfare.

The prize consists of a £2k personal award and £28k prize grant. Dr Makowska will use the prize grant to further expand the work focusing on how to accommodate rats’ behavioural needs in the laboratory environment.



Results of mouse studies substantially affected by the way the animals are handled

A new study funded by the NC3Rs, recently published in Scientific Reports, has shown that the method by which mice are picked up by researchers can substantially change their behaviour in cognitive tests.

The research by Dr Kelly Gouveia and Professor Jane Hurst from the University of Liverpool, demonstrated that mice handled with a ‘mouse-friendly’ tunnel for transfer to the test arena showed much more active exploration during testing than those picked up by the tail, suggesting that non-aversive tunnel handling improved mouse performance in behavioural tests compared to traditional tail handling. Previous work by the team has shown that tail handling causes anxiety.

At last week’s Institute of Animal Technology Congress, John Waters, Named Animal Care & Welfare Officer within Professor Jane Hurst’s research group, was awarded the Andrew Blake Tribute Award in recognition of his contribution to the mouse handling work.

To support adoption of the refined mouse handling methods, the NC3Rs has produced a poster for display in animal facilities. The poster highlights the non-aversive methods including tips for good handling, and complements our handling video tutorial.

If you would like a free A2 poster, please visit our webpage for more details.



A strategy for improving animal welfare and quality of science

Our strategy for improving the welfare of research animals has recently been published in a special issue of Lab Animal on ‘Disease Models: Reproducibility and Translation’.

Good animal welfare is an important factor in the quality of data derived from research animals. This publication highlights our continuing efforts to drive positive change in animal welfare standards, promoting best practice through funding research, publishing practical resources for researchers and animal care staff, and hosting events and workshops to share knowledge and experience.



Improving the translation of memory research from animals to humans

A new task for assessing memory has been developed to improve the translation of studies from animals to humans. Researchers have assessed human memory using an experimental paradigm typically used to assess rodent memory, showing that such tasks are likely to rely on the same memory mechanisms across species.

The study, which was conducted by NC3Rs Regional Programme Manager Dr Kamar Ameen-Ali during her NC3Rs-funded PhD studentship at Durham University, could lead to some memory tasks that would have been traditionally performed in animals taking place using humans instead.



Choosing contractors for animal research – a guide from the NC3Rs

Are you a researcher applying for grant funds from one of the major UK bioscience funding bodies? Are you placing animal research with a third party laboratory? We have created a new resource to help applicants choose contractors for animal research which meet the standards of animal welfare expected by the UK funders.

The PDF presentation is based on the extensive experience of NC3Rs staff who review proposals involving the use of higher mammals submitted to the MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and others.


Programme Manager - Early Career Awards

Salary up to £44k plus London allowances

Are you interested in supporting the next generation of 3Rs-minded research leaders?

We are seeking an experienced individual to manage and develop our PhD studentship and fellowship schemes, which aim to embed the 3Rs in the training and research activities of early career scientists.

This role also involves monitoring the progress of early career awards and building collaborative relationships with award holders to maximise dissemination and uptake of 3Rs advances emerging from the awards.

The closing date for applications is Friday 21 April 2017.



Programme Manager - Technology Development (Maternity cover)

Salary up to £44k plus London allowances

Are you interested in how technological developments can be applied to advance the 3Rs?

We are seeking an experienced individual to lead our technology development activities with a major focus on our technology partnering hub, CRACK IT Solutions.

The role involves working with scientists in academia and industry to identify and nurture technologies with 3Rs potential, working collaboratively to build confidence and capacity in new approaches and where appropriate to support validation and commercialisation.

This post is maternity cover for one year. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 25 April 2017.


Find all of our most recent posts, along with our back catalogue here.


Spotlight on rodent welfare 2017

In her latest blog, our Chief Executive Vicky Robinson has announced that 2017 will be the NC3Rs year of laboratory rodent welfare, with a number of exciting initiatives planned for the year ahead, including a new project on understanding and minimising aggression in mice.



Eleven ways your funding application is failing

If you’re considering applying for grant funding from the NC3Rs, make sure you read the new blog post from our funding team. We focus on the 11 common mistakes that applicants make when writing their research proposals, and include tips on how to write an application that will impress the Panel.


David Sainsbury Fellowship: call for outlines

We are now inviting informal outlines to our David Sainsbury Fellowship scheme. This scheme supports talented 3Rs-minded scientists who have two to six years’ postdoctoral experience, and are looking to transition into an independent career.

The deadline for the submission of outlines to the NC3Rs office is Monday 24 April 2017.



Strategic award: Development of an Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) for Cardiotoxicity

We are inviting applications to our latest strategic award call. The focus of this call is to perform a comprehensive literature-based review and develop the AOP ‘L-type Ca2+ channel block leading to heart failure’.

The deadline for applications, via Je-S, is Wednesday 26 April 2017.



CRACK IT is an open innovation platform from the NC3Rs to accelerate the development, application and commercialisation of technologies with 3Rs potential as they emerge from the research base.


£600,000 awarded in CRACK IT Phase 1 Challenges

Proof-of-concept funding totalling £600k has been awarded for the first stage of the NC3Rs CRACK IT Challenges competition for two Challenges, Osteo-chip (to develop an in vitro model of the human osteoarthritic joint) and Retinal 3D (to develop a physiologically-competent human 3D retina). The six teams awarded funding have six months to undertake pilot work before competing for further funding.



CRACK IT Solutions: Ex vivo human donor retina tissue platform for disease modelling and drug development

If you work in optical research and are looking for a human-based retina platform, OcuScience would like to hear from you.

Using their unique system, donor retina tissue which would have previously been discarded can be used in place of animals for investigating human retinal and CNS diseases, as well as drug testing and screening.

OcuScience is seeking partners to assist in validation and development of the platform, and researchers who wish to adopt the approach.



Workshop: The use of human tissues for safety assessment

3 May 2017: Coventry, UK

Registration is closing soon for our one day workshop in collaboration with the Safety Pharmacology Society, at which we will discuss how best to support and enable the use of human tissues in safety testing.

The workshop will focus on the application of human tissue approaches as alternatives to animal studies, including regulatory perspectives towards acceptance and processes for access to human tissues.

There are exhibitor spaces available to facilitate greater awareness of the opportunities for accessing human tissue and for outsourcing human tissue-based safety testing, as well as an opportunity to present a poster on relevant work with human tissues and cell lines.

The deadline to submit a poster abstract or an exhibitor abstract is Wednesday 12 April 2017.

The closing date for registration is Friday 14 April 2017.