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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

NC3Rs Public Engagement Award winners announced

Seven researchers have been awarded funding to engage with the public about their NC3Rs-funded work. 

The awards will fund a variety of activities taking place this year across the UK, to help mark the NC3Rs ten-year anniversary. These include displays and stands at a number of festivals, exhibitions within science centres and universities, as well as workshops and presentations taken directly into schools. The activities will attract and engage adults, children and teenagers alike to raise awareness of the progress that is being made in the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use in science, and to share the benefits of 3Rs research to science, society and animals.

Participants will be able to explore 3Rs-related research in a hands-on way; for example, by building immune system components out of jelly beans, drawing brains on swimming caps, watching videos, observing the movements of fruit flies, discovering a 3D brain constructed from human MRI scans and programming robots to replicate different cell types in the immune system.

One of the projects, which will be led by Professor Paul Kaye, from the University of York, will utilise robots programmed to swarm in a way that simulates how the immune system works. Each robot will be marked out as different players in the simulation. One "pathogen" robot will move amongst several "white blood cell" robots, showing how the immune system protects against infection. The activity will demonstrate the benefits of simulation, and will teach the interested public about immunity, in an imaginative way.

Commenting on the new award scheme, Dr Vicky Robinson, Chief Executive of the NC3Rs, said: "In our tenth anniversary year, we are placing a much greater emphasis on telling the public about what we do. Supporting our researchers to get out and talk to people about their work is a really important way of getting the 3Rs message across. The projects we have funded are wide ranging, but they all have one thing in common; they are both exciting and educational."

Several of the events are due to take place during Biology Week in October, a week-long celebration of engaging the public with the life sciences, organised by the Society of Biology.

Notes for Editors:

Contact the NC3Rs Media Office:

Laura McGuinness, Communications Officer. Email:, Tel: 020 7611 2239, Mob: 07795 451836.

1. Background to the 'NC3Rs Public Engagement Award Scheme':

The NC3Rs Public Engagement Award Scheme aims to engage the public with the approaches taken by NC3Rs-funded researchers to progress the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use in science. The awards will enable NC3Rs-funded researchers to engage with the public through a series of thought-provoking events and activities across the UK that will help mark the NC3Rs ten-year anniversary.

2. Projects funded by the 'NC3Rs Public Engagement Award':

  • Human and mouse artificial lymph nodes: novel technology to reduce and replace the use of animal models in clinical and developmental immunology. Dr Mark Coles, University of York, £745.
  • Reduction and refinement in animal models of neuropathic pain: using systematic review and meta-analysis. Dr Gillian Currie, University of Edinburgh, £1,000.
  • Virtual Infectious Disease Research. Professor Paul Kaye, University of York, £951.
  • An advanced model for neurodegeneration studies in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Dr Özge Özkaya, University of Leicester, £550.
  • Rodent Big Brother: automated recording of rodent activity and temperature in the home cage Developing microfluidic systems for high-throughput studies of functional neuronal networks. Professor Judith Pratt, Dr Trevor Bushell and Dr Michele Zagoni, University of Strathclyde, £1,000.
  • A tissue engineered construct to monitor mucosal immunity in asthma. Dr Emily Swindle, University of Southampton, £900.
  • The amazing brain: What can brain scanning technology do for us, science and animal welfare? Dr Christopher Petkov, Newcastle University, £530.

3. About the NC3Rs:

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is a leading independent scientific organisation dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing.  It supports the UK science base by driving and funding innovation and technological developments that replace or reduce the need for animals in research and testing, and lead to improvements in welfare where animals continue to be used.  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.

Further information can be found at:  @NC3Rs