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Systematic analysis of data from animal models reveals opportunities and limitations in the preclinical and clinical research

14/2018, 16.04.2018

Professor Malcolm Macleod awarded the BfR’s Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship

What opportunities and what limits result from the use of laboratory animals in the preclinical and clinical research? Neurologist Malcolm Macleod has dedicated himself to this topic. For his interdisciplinary research work and his contribution to improving animal welfare, he is awarded this year's Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "In the field of stroke research, Malcolm Macleod's systematic studies will enhance the relevance of animal models and improve their translation to humans based on evidence," says BfR President, Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "This is an excellent example of how unnecessary animal experiments can be avoided in the future, while still developing new and innovative therapy approaches." There are also synergies with the German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R), where the BfR consolidates all its activities nationwide, with the goals of reducing animal experiments to the absolutely essential minimum, ensuring laboratory animals the best possible protection and intensifying research into alternative methods. With the Fellowship programme, the BfR honours researchers who have excelled through their extraordinary scientific achievements. In addition to this, the BfR is expanding its international scientific expertise and network.

With the Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship, the BfR promotes the transfer of knowledge between internationally renowned scientists and the researchers at the BfR. The BfR named the award in honour of the naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717), who distinguished herself through her exceptional pioneer spirit in the field of life sciences at the turn of the 18th century. Merian’s independent scientific achievements are an inspiration for the mission of the BfR in the field of consumer health protection.

The first Merian Fellow is Malcolm Macleod, Professor of Neurology and Translational Neurosciences at the University of Edinburgh and coordinator of CAMARADES (Collaborative Approach to Meta-analysis and Review of Animal Data from Experimental Studies). His work is dedicated to the reproducibility of the results of studies involving animal experiments and their translation to humans. His research also involves quality assurance in biomedical studies. Systematic evaluation of studies involving animal experiments shall improve the design, implementation, analysis and reporting of animal studies . If no alternative method to the animal experiment exists, the most suitable animal model for the specific research question should be identified to avoid unnecessary animal experiments in the future. Only sufficient information e.g. through the use of systematic reviews and meta-analysis enables researchers to determine the need for further experiments and the exact areas these experiments should concentrate on. Malcolm Macleod’s research is therefore crucial for the development of strategies to reduce animal experiments.

The BfR supports the replacement of animal tests with alternative methods whenever possible. As research involving laboratory animals cannot be completely abandoned at present, it is therefore most important that the animal experiments carried out have the highest possible significance. The BfR aims to collaborate with Malcolm Macleod on a scientific basis in order to advance research in the field of meta-analysis.

About Bf3R

The BfR performs the tasks of the "German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R)" and coordinates all activities throughout the country with the goals of restricting animal tests to the absolutely essential minimum and ensuring laboratory animals the best possible protection. In addition to this, the work of the centre is intended to stimulate research activities all over the world and promote scientific dialogue.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

More detailed information on the BfR Fellowship Programmes is available here.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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