In its summer meeting, the Board of Directors of the Einstein Foundation approved the preliminary stage of a new Einstein Center for the development of alternative methods to animal experiments in biomedical research. The goal of the planned center is to reduce or replace animal experiments in this field. During the preparatory phase, the infrastructure and networking of research at this site will be funded. A total of 522,000 euros will be made available for this purpose - the State of Berlin will provide the Einstein Foundation with a total of 1.35 million euros for the new Einstein Center for 2020/21 in addition to its basic budget. The Center is expected to become fully operational in 2021, following a re-evaluation of the overall concept by the Einstein Foundation's Scientific Commission.
The establishment of an "Einstein Center 3R" (3R: Replace, Reduce, Refine) was initiated by Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin (FU), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU); it is being developed in close cooperation with the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). In the long term, the Center aims to create a research network in Berlin in which joint research on tissue models can be conducted and innovative projects developed. In addition, universities are to be sensitized to the topic with regard to graduate training, but also the general public.
"In view of the special importance of animal experiments in biomedical research, it is an even greater obligation to keep them to a minimum and to perform them in high quality," said Prof. Dr. Günter Stock, Chairman of the Board of the Einstein Foundation, on the occasion of the funding decision.
The Berlin State Secretary for Science and Research, Steffen Krach, explains: "Berlin is Germany's centre for biomedical research. This goes hand in hand with our claim to research alternative methods to animal experiments in order to strengthen animal protection and reduce animal experiments in research. As the federal state of Berlin, we support the important step of bundling the activities of Berlin's scientific institutions in a new Einstein Center. With our broad research network in Berlin, we are playing a pioneering role in this area.”
According to the 3Rs principle of William Russell and Rex Burch, the aim is to replace animal experiments (Replace), reduce the number of animals used in experiments (Reduce) or reduce the distress to laboratory animals (Refine). For this purpose, the new 3R Centre uses experimental methods such as 3D models of tissue cultures, but also an extended quality management system. The main objective of the Einstein Centre is to advance the development of therapeutic methods for human diseases, to improve the transferability of laboratory findings to patients and at the same time to strengthen animal welfare. The planned center will provide young scientists with education, training and continuing education to enable them to apply the 3Rs principle rigorously. Science communication and dialogue with the public will also play an important role.
"Since 2018, we have been very energetically promoting the development of alternative methods through Charité3R and are working intensively to make those animal experiments that are irreplaceable for research into therapies more gentle. With the new Einstein Center, a cross-institutional structure is being created in Berlin to promote the implementation of the 3Rs principle on an international level," said Prof. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of the Charité and interim Chairman of the BIH Board of Directors.
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