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Scientific Conference Non-Animal Approaches- The way forward

About the conference

The European Commission organised a scientific conference in Brussels on 6 and 7 December 2016 to engage the scientific community and relevant stakeholders in a debate on how to exploit cutting edge advances in biomedical and other research in the development of scientifically valid non-animal approaches (alternatives to animal testing).

The conference brought together people from different countries, scientific disciplines and sectors with expertise in research involving animals and / or non-animal alternative approaches. Through scientific presentations and panel discussions attendees explored the current benefits and limitations of different models, and considered how to improve the quality and predictivity of models used in research, including approaches to accelerate non-animal alternatives.

Participants discussed and proposed recommendations directed at the research community, funding bodies, scientific journals, the European Commission and other relevant stakeholders about:

  • the validity of animal models today in different sectors
  • current state of play and way(s) forward for non-animal approaches in different areas of research and testing
  • most promising technologies and approaches which offer prospects for significantly reducing and replacing animals in R&D
  • best practice to advance research integrity, funding and reporting

The conference was announced in the European Commission Communication responding to the European Citizens Initiative "Stop Vivisection" and is one of four actions that should contribute towards the goal of, ultimately, phasing out animal testing. The other three actions are: (1) accelerating progress in the Three R's through knowledge sharing, (2) development, validation and implementation of new alternative approaches, (3) enforcement of compliance with the Three R's principle and alignment of relevant sector legislation. The conference included a session to report progress on these other three actions detailed in the above Communication to the European Citizens Initiative Stop Vivisection from 3 June 2015). The JRC Report on Action 1 has been published after the conference.


The Conference report covers all the presentations, panel discussions and opinions (including those submitted e.g via Twitter), accompanied by overall conclusions and recommendations that emerged from the discussions, however, without a formal endorsement by the participants. It attempts to represent the discussion held during the Conference but should not be viewed as a complete review of this area of science or related legislation.

Presentations and video recordings

Video recordings

Tuesday 6 December 2016
Speech Karmenu Vella (Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries)
Session 1 – Animal Testing Today

Malcolm Macleod (University of Edinburgh, UK) - The value of animal research at present and in the future

Jarrod Bailey (Cruelty Free International, UK) - An analysis of the use of animal models in predicting human toxicology and drug safety

Andrew Knight (University of Winchester, UK) - Animal use and alternatives within life and health sciences education; systematic reviews and human clinical utility of invasive animal research

Georg Kollias (University of Athens, EL) - Contribution of disease modelling to human health: the pan-European INFRAFRONTIER Research Infrastructure, a public resource for mammalian models in biomedical research
Panel discussion - additional panel members:
Roger le Grand (CEA Paris, FR)  / Elliott Lilley (RSPCA London, UK)  / Richard Frackowiak, (Université de Lausanne, CH)

Session 2 - Biomedical research: strengths & limitations of non-animal alternatives

Jan G. Hengstler (Leibniz-Institut TU Dortmund, DE)  –   In silico systems of the liver and possibilities of two-photon based imaging

Stefan Platz (AstraZeneca, DE) - Personalized human genome sequencing

Frank Staal (University of Leiden, NL) - 3Rs in use of laboratory animals for testing and developing regenerative medicine

Gerhard Weinbauer (Covance, DE) - 3Rs in biomedical research – a CRO perspective

Panel discussion - additional panel members: Thomas Hartung (CAAT Europe), Cees Smit (European Patient Forum, NL), Nadia Rosenthal (Imperial College London, UK)

Session 3 – Regulatory testing: strengths & limitations of non-animal alternatives

Maurice Whelan (Joint Research Centre) - Validation as a step towards regulatory acceptance and uptake of alternative approaches

Warren Casey (NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, US) - Developing an Implementation Plan for Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: Obstacles, Challenges, and Opportunities

Robert Kavlock (EPA, US) – Accelerating the Pace of Chemical Risk Assessments

Jan-Willem van der Laan (Medicines Evaluation Board/ EMA, NL) – 3Rs in Safety Testing of Human and Veterinary Pharmaceuticals

Panel discussion - additional panel members:  Derek Knight (ECHA, FI); Gianni Dal Negro (EPAA / GSK, IT); Martin Paparella (MS CA, AT); Susanne Keitel (EDQM, FR);  Klaus Cussler (PEI, EMA Veterinary side, DE)

Session 4 - Reporting on European Commission actions 1 – 3

Susanna Louhmies (DG Environment)-Action 3 Directive 2010/63/EU implementation and alignment of sector legislation

Tracey Holley (Joint Research Centre)-Action 1 Report on Knowledge sharing and recommendations
Panel discussion on Knowledge Sharing
Panel members: Amalia Vlad (DG CNCT), Elke Anklam (Joint Research Centre), Sylvia Pelgrom (Charles River laboratories), Adrian Smith (Norecopa), Jan van der Valk (3Rs center NL/ ETPLAS), Elliott Lilley (RSPCA), Katrin Schütte (DG ENV)            

Ruxandra Draghia-Akli (DG Research) Action 2  - EU research into new alternative approaches 

Wednesday 7 December 2016
Julie Girling, (Member of the European Parliament)

Session 5 – Responsible Research

Malcolm Macleod (University of Edinburgh, UK), replacing Ulrich Dirnagl (Charité Berlin, DE / BioMed Alliance) – Increasing value and decreasing waste in experimental research

Vicky Robinson (NC3Rs, UK) - Design, analysis and reporting of animal research as part of the NC3R strategy & reproducibility of research

Thomas Korff (University of Heidelberg, DE) - How scientific journals influence implementation of the 3Rs in life sciences

Ian Hrynszkiewicz (Springer Nature, UK) – The role of publishers in improving research quality and reducing waste through open research

Panel discussion - additional panel members:
Louiza Kalokairinou (EU Commission, DG Research);  Lindsay Marshall (HSI, UK); Beth Thompson (Wellcome Trust, UK); Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga (University of Nijmegen, NL)

Session 6 – The Future: the way forward / part 1 

Mark Viant (University of Birmingham, UK) - How metabolomics can help lead to animal-free chemical risk assessment

Reyk Horland (Tissuse Berlin, DE) - Multi-Organ-Chip developments: Towards a paradigm shift in drug development

Session 6 – The Future: the way forward / part 2

Tony Lahoutte (European Society of Molecular Imaging, BE) – Use of (non-invasive) imaging techniques in improving science and reducing animal use and suffering in basic research

Christine Mummery (University of Leiden, NL) - The 3Rs: are Human Stem Cells and Organs on Chip alternatives? Towards precision medicine in future healthcare

Marco Viceconti (University of Sheffield, UK) - The potential of the Virtual Physiological Human

Panel discussion - additional panel members:
Philippe Detilleux (Sanofi, FR); Nick Meade (Patients Network for Medical Research and Health / Genetic Alliance, UK)

Concluding remarks- Daniel Calleja Crespo (DG Environment) and moderators