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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

20 years of Pioneering Better Science

20-year anniversary logo. 20 years of pioneering better science

This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the NC3Rs. Our Head of Communications, Emma Stokes, looks forward to the celebratory activities we will be undertaking and supporting over the course of 2024, all badged under a new evolved logo. 

Since its inception the NC3Rs has worked to put the 3Rs at the heart of, and not an addition to, the scientific process. Engaging with stakeholders at all stages of the research process and applying the 3Rs principles throughout ensures that we are moving towards models that are more reproducible, accurate and in turn, of increased value to the community in driving forward scientific understanding. 

The past twenty years has taught us much in terms of how to realise the 3Rs impacts of our work. It is not enough to simply develop new methods and approaches; time, thought and funding must be put into their dissemination within the community. They say ‘if you build it they will come’. In reality it takes a significant amount of resource to showcase new methods and approaches until momentum builds to a tipping point and they are taken up and embedded within practice. Our 20-year anniversary provides the perfect opportunity to not only look back on how far we have come, celebrating the people who have helped to get us there, but also look to the what comes next and our goals for the future. 

20-year anniversary activities

Key areas of work will be showcased, from replacement technologies to toxicology and regulatory sciences and animal welfare. Webinars and events will bring the science to life and provide an opportunity to hear from our grant holders directly about their work, and impact of NC3Rs funding. 

We will be using a range of tools and media to reflect on the varied portfolio of work that we not only fund, but that is undertaken by our in-house team of scientific staff. From our innovation and CRACK IT programmes to our work on improving the design and rigour of animal research through our experimental design programme, we will be looking at the longer term impacts and achievements of these areas of work. 

Establishing Networks 

Community sits at the heart of what the NC3Rs does, from strategic partnerships with key players to the collaborations we foster and encourage. 2024 will see us take this further. Through the establishment of Networks we will look to support and encourage collaboration in areas of strategic interest. The first two Networks will focus on the areas of cardiovascular research and NAMs* with launch events taking place in the first half of the year. More information is due in our January newsletter, make sure you are subscribed.

Public engagement 

We are encouraging any researcher with a project with clear 3Rs impacts to head out and engage with the public about their research. Our Public Engagement awards have increased in scope (to also include research supported by any funder) and amount (up to £2k) to promote this activity in our anniversary year. Alongside the award scheme we will be celebrating our 12th year at Pint of Science with events scheduled in Manchester, London and Nottingham. 

3Rs support and training 

We recognise that there is an appetite for practical 3Rs support and training globally. Alongside our existing 3Rs resources, systems like the Experimental Design Assistant (EDA) and self-assessment tools, and guidelines like ARRIVE, we will look to move into trackable e-learning modules. These will allow for personalised assessment and the awarding of certificates and CPD points, starting with our established mouse handling module and moving into new experimental design courses. 

In the UK, our regional team will evolve to expand our support to institutions nationwide by offering free 3Rs support and training. Details of workshops and training opportunities will be released shortly. 

“Over the last 20 years, there has been a big shift in the intensity and pace of 3Rs-focused activities across the scientific sector. It has been an exciting time and I am proud of the contributions that the NC3Rs has made to this. There is still much to do though and I am looking forward to using our anniversary year to both celebrate what has been achieved and to plan for the challenges ahead. But first I would like to take this opportunity to say huge thanks to all those who have contributed to the success of the NC3Rs to date – the NC3Rs staff and Board, our collaborators, working group and panel members and of course our funders.” 

Dr Vicky Robinson, Chief Executive NC3Rs



*In recent years, the term new approach methodologies (NAMs) has come into common use in some parts of the biosciences sector – there are various definitions for NAMs but we use the term to specifically describe replacement technologies (full and partial) for use in assessing chemical or drug toxicity. You can find more information on the way the NC3Rs uses the terms on our 3Rs page.