The JRC hosted more than 100 international postgraduate students and young professionals to explore the latest developments in non-animal approaches and their application in various fields such as regulatory toxicology and biomedical research.
The Summer School on "Non-Animal Approaches in Science - Challenges & Future Directions" took place from 21 to 24 May at the JRC in Ispra (Italy). The primary aim was to share knowledge and experience on the latest non-animal approaches used in research and testing including in vitro methods and computational modelling.
In addition, participants explored the evolving role of the Three Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal procedures) in science and policy today within the European Union and beyond.
The action-packed programme combined lectures from top-level experts with a variety of interactive sessions including world cafés, participant debates, polls, a quiz and visits to the in vitro methods facility of the JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM).
Participants came from 34 countries worldwide (including India, Bangladesh, Korea, China, Brazil and Iran) and were selected on the basis of a letter of motivation, and an abstract describing their own work that was presented in poster sessions during the school. A number of supporting organisations generously provided 13 students with travel grants.
"These very talented young scientists and professionals represent key enablers and decision-makers of the future", comments JRC scientist Brigitte Landesmann, from the JRC's Chemical Safety and Alternative Methods unit and EURL ECVAM who organised the event.
"We want to encourage and help them to become champions in shifting the paradigm so that society can benefit from excellent, relevant and impactful science that doesn't need animals."
JRC activities on education & training
The first JRC Summer School on the theme of alternative methods took place in May 2017. These are part of a series of initiatives undertaken by the JRC in the field of education and training relevant to the Three Rs. A JRC study showed indeed that although much knowledge exists on non-animal approaches, there is a clear need for better education, communication and outreach to enhance knowledge sharing and promote their uptake.
The JRC is also completing an extensive overview of the Three Rs education and training landscape by mapping currently available courses and resources worldwide. The inventory and the accompanying study will be made available soon through the JRC Science Hub and the JRC Data Catalogue.