More than Refinement – improving the validity of animal research
Refinement is part of the 3Rs concept and refers to measures that minimize suffering and improve the welfare of laboratory animals. However, the question as to whether any suffering of laboratory animals is ethically justifiable depends on the potential benefit of the research. Unless the results are scientifically valid and reproducible, animals may be wasted for inconclusive research. Recent evidence indicates that the design, conduct, and analysis of animal experiments are often biased, producing misleading results. Improving the scientific validity and reproducibility of animal research therefore matters not only for scientific reasons, but also for ethical reasons, to avoid unnecessary suffering of laboratory animals.
Hanno Würbel is Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bern in Switzerland, where he had studied biology. After his PhD at the ETH Zürich in 1996 he was a postdoc at the University of Bristol in the UK and at the ETH and University of Zürich, before he became professor of Animal Welfare and Ethology at the University of Giessen in Germany in 2002. In 2011 he moved back to the University of Bern to take up the newly established chair in Animal Welfare. His research focuses on environment-dependent plasticity of brain and behavior with regards to questions of animal welfare and the scientific validity of animal research. In 2005 he received the Hessian Animal Welfare Research Award, in 2009 the Felix Wankel Animal Welfare Research Award, and last year the Creativity Award of the International Society of Applied Ethology (ISAE). Since 2013 his research on refinement of animal research is funded by the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grant).
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