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Our PhD Studentship awards are open for outline applications! Awards of three/four years are available including joint awards with the BHF.

NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Infrastructure grant

SyRF: the CAMARADES/NC3Rs in vivo systematic review and meta-analysis facility

The logo of the SyRF systematic review facility

At a glance

Award date
October 2013 - September 2018
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Malcolm Macleod


University of Edinburgh


  • Reduction



This infrastructure award will maximise the 3Rs potential of undertaking systematic reviews and meta-analyses of animal research.


Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are common practice in clinical research. They remain relatively under-utilised in animal research although recent reviews have illustrated their potential 3Rs benefits for example, supporting a reduction in animal numbers, determining whether high severity tests or multiple tests are necessary, and avoiding the use of uninformative models.

Research details and methods

The award will support the development of online resources and hands-on support facilitating the wider use of systematic reviews and meta-analyses by researchers.



  1. Jue TR et al. (2018). A systematic review and meta-analysis of topoisomerase inhibition in pre-clinical glioma models. Oncotarget 9(13):11387-11401. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.24334
  2. Akl EA et al. (2017). Living systematic reviews: 4. Living guideline recommendations. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 91:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.08.009
  3. Archer DP et al. (2017). Anesthetic Neuroprotection in Experimental Stroke in Rodents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Anesthesiology 126(4):653-65. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000001534
  4. Elliott JH et al. (2017). Living systematic review: 1. Introduction-the why, what, when, and how. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 91:23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.08.010
  5. Flynn LMC et al. (2017). Alpha Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide Increases Cerebral Vessel Diameter in Animal Models of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Frontiers in Neurology 8:357. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00357
  6. Sadigh-Eteghad S et al. (2017). D-galactose-induced brain ageing model: A systematic review and meta-analysis on cognitive outcomes and oxidative stress indices. PloS One 12(8):e0184122. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184122
  7. Simmonds M et al. (2017). Living systematic reviews: 3. Statistical methods for updating meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 91:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.08.008
  8. Thomas J et al. (2017). Living systematic reviews: 2. Combining human and machine effort. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 91:31-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.08.011
  9. Lalu MM et al. (2016). Evaluating mesenchymal stem cell therapy for sepsis with preclinical meta-analyses prior to initiating a first-in-human trial. eLife 5 doi: 10.7554/eLife.17850
  10. van Hout GP et al. (2016). Translational failure of anti-inflammatory compounds for myocardial infarction: a meta-analysis of large animal models. Cardiovascular Research 109(2):240-8. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvv239 
  11. Zwetsloot PP et al. (2016). Cardiac Stem Cell Treatment in Myocardial Infarction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Preclinical Studies. Circulation Research 118(8):1223-32. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.115.307676 
  12. Currie GL, Macleod MR (2015). Increasing value and reducing waste in animal models of rheumatological disease. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 18(5):485-7. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12703 
  13. Jansen Of Lorkeers SJ et al. (2015). Similar effect of autologous and allogeneic cell therapy for ischemic heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of large animal studies. Circulation Research 116(1):80-6. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.304872 
  14. Laban KG et al. (2015). Effect of endothelin receptor antagonists on clinically relevant outcomes after experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 35(7):1085-9. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2015.89
  15. Macleod M (2015). Prof Benchie and Dr Athena-A modern tragedy. Evidence-based Preclinical Medicine 2(1):16-19. doi: 10.1002/ebm2.8 
  16. Macleod MR et al. (2015). Risk of Bias in Reports of In Vivo Research: A Focus for Improvement. PLOS Biology 13(10):e1002273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002273
  17. Milidonis X et al. (2015). Magnetic resonance imaging in experimental stroke and comparison with histology: systematic review and meta-analysis. Stroke 46(3):843-51. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.007560 
  18. Vesterinen HM et al. (2015). Drug repurposing: a systematic approach to evaluate candidate oral neuroprotective interventions for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. PLOS ONE 10(4):e0117705. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117705 
  19. Egan KJ et al. (2014). Exercise reduces infarct volume and facilitates neurobehavioral recovery: results from a systematic review and meta-analysis of exercise in experimental models of focal ischemia. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 28(8):800-12. doi: 10.1177/1545968314521694 
  20. Hirst TC et al. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of gene therapy in animal models of cerebral glioma: why did promise not translate to human therapy? Evidence-based Preclinical Medicine 1(1):21-33. doi: 10.1002/ebm2.6 
  21. Howells DW et al. (2014). Bringing rigour to translational medicine. Nature Reviews Neurology 10(1):37-43. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.232 
  22. Ioannidis JP et al. (2014). Increasing value and reducing waste in research design, conduct, and analysis. Lancet 383(9912):166-75. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62227-8 
  23. Lalu MM et al. (2014). Efficacy and safety of mesenchymal stromal cells in preclinical models of acute lung injury: a systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews 3:48. doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-3-48 
  24. Macleod MR (2014). Preclinical research: Design animal studies better. Nature 510(7503):35. doi: 10.1038/510035a 
  25. McCann SK et al. (2014). Efficacy of antidepressants in animal models of ischemic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Stroke 45(10):3055-63. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.006304 
  26. Pedder H et al. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions tested in animal models of lacunar stroke. Stroke 45(2):563-70. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.003128 
  27. Sena ES et al. (2014). Systematic reviews and meta-analysis of preclinical studies: why perform them and how to appraise them critically. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 34(5):737-42. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2014.28 
  28. Vesterinen HM et al. (2014). Meta-analysis of data from animal studies: a practical guide. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 221:92-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.09.010 
  29. Watzlawick R et al. (2014). Effect and reporting bias of RhoA/ROCK-blockade intervention on locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Neurology 71(1):91-9. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.4684
  30. Wu S et al. (2014). Edaravone improves functional and structural outcomes in animal models of focal cerebral ischemia: a systematic review. International Journal of Stroke 9(1):101-6. doi: 10.1111/ijs.12163
  31. Batchelor PE et al. (2013). Meta-analysis of pre-clinical studies of early decompression in acute spinal cord injury: a battle of time and pressure. PLOS ONE 8(8):e72659. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072659 
  32. Batchelor PE et al. (2013). Systematic review and meta-analysis of therapeutic hypothermia in animal models of spinal cord injury. PLOS ONE 8(8):e71317. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071317