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International 3Rs Prize now open for applications. £30k prize (£2k personal award) for outstanding science with demonstrable 3Rs impacts.

NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

A novel in silico framework for early mammalian embryo development

Portrait of Dr David Richards

At a glance

In progress
Award date
January 2023 - September 2025
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr David Richards
University of Exeter


  • Replacement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to replace the use of mammalian models in some embryogenesis research studies by developing a mathematical modelling framework of the mammalian embryo.

Understanding the early stages of embryogenesis in mammals is key to advances in fertility, IVF treatment and conservation of endangered species. In silico studies can be used to model complex processes and reduce the number of in vivo studies performed but high quality data from human embryos has not previously been available to build computational models. In vivo studies predominantly use embryos from mice but can also use embryos from rabbits and livestock. Using new human cell data from collaborators, Dr David Richards will develop a computational model that replicates various stages of embryogenesis including cell division, differentiation and apoptosis. David will also incorporate data from mice, rabbits and livestock further expanding the number of in vivo studies that could be replaced with the computational model. He will work with project partners in IVF clinics to ensure the model is applicable to human development and build confidence in the model prior to dissemination.

This award was made as part of the BBSRC/NC3Rs joint call for the development of next generation non-animal technologies (NATs).