£1.26m committed for postgraduate training to reduce and refine animal use in research

UK efforts to reduce the use of animals in research and improve animal welfare has today received a £1.26 million boost through the award of 14 PhD studentships.

Funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), the studentship scheme provides early-career researchers with a solid introduction to research that aims to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in science (the 3Rs) at prestigious UK institutions. 

Among the research funded is work to develop an artificial 3D intestine to study gastrointestinal diseases, and a cell-based model of sleep and circadian rhythm disruption using cells from bipolar patients. Both projects have the potential to replace and reduce the use of mice for these areas of research.

These latest awards from the NC3Rs bring their total commitment to training PhD students to almost £5m since the scheme's introduction in 2009, with 51 PhD studentships funded across 30 institutions that include the University of Oxford, the Royal Veterinary College and Durham University.

Dr Vicky Robinson, Chief Executive of the NC3Rs said: "Changing how researchers approach the design of an experiment by embedding greater awareness and uptake of alternative approaches and technologies is a key aim of the NC3Rs. Supporting the training of scientists at the very start of their research careers to develop and adopt new approaches is critical for sustained progress in the 3Rs; the outputs of our studentship scheme are already having an impact on the use of animals in areas like neuroscience and the study of liver disease."

Miss Kamar Ameen-Ali (pictured) in the Department of Psychology, at Durham University, who is one of the first PhD students to receive funding from the NC3Rs, said: "My NC3Rs-funded studentship has not just allowed me to work on the development of a new research method that reduces rodent use in memory tests, it's given me the opportunity to present this work to other researchers at academic conferences and to parliamentarians, which is great so early on in my career. The support from the NC3Rs team has been central to the success of my PhD and I hope to continue with my research on rodent memory as a post-doc in the future."

Institutions hosting the latest round of NC3Rs-funded PhD studentships are now looking to recruit highly motivated candidates to commence their PhDs by the end of 2014.

For full details visit www.nc3rs.org.uk/funding/studentships


Notes to Editors:

For further information please the NC3Rs media office.

Awarded 2014 studentships (each receiving £90k over three years):

  • University of Aberdeen with Marine Science Scotland
    Development of a method for non-lethal sampling from individual fish to investigate host responses to ectoparasites. Supervisor: Professor Chris Secombes
  • University of Birmingham with University of Oxford
    Creating an in vitro model of pathogenic ossification to explore methods for dispersion. Supervisor: Professor Liam Grover
  • University of Edinburgh
    Motor neuron regeneration in larval zebrafish. Supervisor: Dr Catherina Becker
  • The Babraham Institute, University of Cambridge
    Towards engineering a multi-cell lineage multi-organism intestine. Supervisor: Dr Marc Veldhoen
  • University of East Anglia with University of Liverpool
    Development of a non-mammalian, pre-clinical screening tool (FETOX) for predictive analysis of drug safety. Supervisor: Dr Grant Wheeler
  • University of Glasgow with University of Edinburgh
    An in vitro model to investigate the role of oestrogen and oestrogen metabolism in pulmonary vascular disease. Supervisor: Professor Margaret MacLean (Studentship filled)
  • University of Hertfordshire with GlaxoSmithKline
    DM-MAP: Drug and Metabolite Microsampling Analytical Platform for preclinical medicines development. Supervisor: Dr Darragh Murnane
  • University of Liverpool
    Developing molecular therapies for glaucoma using an ex vivo human organ culture system. Supervisor: Professor Colin Willoughby
  • University of Oxford
    Development of a patient-derived cellular model of circadian disruption in bipolar disorder. Supervisor: Dr Sridhar Vasudevan
  • Royal Holloway, University of London with University College London
    Find the target of valproic acid; pioneering the use of a non-animal model for basic biomedical (epilepsy) research. Supervisor: Professor Robin Williams
  • Royal Veterinary College
    Replacing rodent models for investigating the influence of the microbiome upon innate immune responses and resistance to pathogens. Supervisor: Dr Rachel Lawrence
  • University of Southampton
    Exploitation of an ex vivo disease model to characterise early events in retinal degeneration. Supervisor: Dr J Arjuna Ratnayaka
  • University of Strathclyde
    Developing microfluidic systems for high-throughput studies of functional neuronal networks. Supervisor: Dr Michele Zagnoni
  • University of Sussex
    Development of a refined model of neuropathic pain: a model without frank nerve injury. Supervisor: Dr Andrew Dilley

About the NC3Rs

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) leads the discovery and application of new technologies and approaches to minimise the use of animals and improve animal welfare (the 3Rs). It funds research, supports training and development, and stimulates changes in regulations and practice. Primarily funded by Government, the NC3Rs is also supported by the charitable and private sectors. It works with scientists in universities and industry in the UK and internationally.

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