Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy hosted an event in Parliament this week with Queen guitarist and wellknown animal welfare campaigner, Dr Brian May, to announce that the world's first professorial post in animal replacement science will be created at Queen Mary University, London.
The post will be funded by the Dr Hadwen Trust, which campaigns for the replacement and reduction of testing on animals. Brian May, who has also campaigned with Kerry against the badger cull, is a patron of the trust.
The announcement means that the UK will spearhead the search for alternatives to animal testing, in diverse areas of medical research. The new professor, who will be appointed in the next few months, will be based at Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute - a recognised pioneer in the development of in vitro models using human cells and tissue and in particular the development of three-dimensional models in cutaneous (skin), gastroenterology and cancer research.
Welcoming the announcement in Parliament, Kerry McCarthy said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Dr Brian May to Parliament to announce the world’s first professional university research position in animal replacement science. Today’s announcement will put the UK at the cutting edge of scientific research. This really s a landmark moment in the process of reducing and replacing the use of animals in scientific experiments. Dr Hadwen and Queen Mary's are making a practical contribution to advancing medical science and develop pioneering treatments without the need to harm animals.”
A change in UK legislation, directed by the EU, comes into force this month (January 2013) which ensures that alternative, non-animal research techniques are used in medical research if they are available. The DHT Professorial Chair at the Blizard Institute will play a pivotal role in leading the UK’s response to this legislative change, in creating links between scientists in the sector and in identifying areas of best practice in replacement science. It is also intended that educational programmes specific to animal replacement science will be developed to inspire more young people to choose a career in the field.
Professor Mike Curtis, Director of the Blizard Institute and Deputy Vice Principal for Health at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Our aim is to encourage and stimulate research and education in animal replacement science of the highest quality. Areas of special focus will include 3D cell culture, 3D modelling and bioinformatics and regenerative medicine with particular emphasis on, but not limited to, diseases of the skin and the digestive tract.”
The Professorial Chair will be funded by a legacy left to the DHT specifically for this purpose by lifelong supporter Alan Stross.
Kailah Eglington, Chief Executive of the Dr Hadwen Trust, said: “Creating the world’s first professorial chair in animal replacement science is a major stepping stone towards the development of a global community of scientists working together towards finding cures that replace the use of animals and are more human-relevant. This branch of science is becoming increasingly accepted among the scientific community and it is vital that new and existing scientists and researchers are aware that successful alternatives to animal testing are available today and that more are needed.”