Contemporary Debates Spring 2024

Contemporary Debates

The spring semester 24024 edition of the Contemporary Debates in Biomedical Ethics at the IBMB is centered around animal research ethics and the 3R.

The use of animals in science has been attributed to key developments in many major fields of biology and medicine. So much so that many scientists feel that animal use is indispensable in order to pursue further scientific breakthrough. But the use of animal for experimental purposes (including basic research, translational and applied research, regulatory testing, and education) is a case of heated debates and is being more and more challenged in some countries. For instance, the Swiss citizens filed a popular initiative to ban animal experimentation in Switzerland, which was voted against in February 2022, and a new popular initiative is now on its way. In the European Union, the citizen’s initiative “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without animal testing” was also debated at the Parliament last July. At the moment, the ethical grounds justifying animal experimentation are based on two major tenets that are the 3Rs (Replace, Reduce, Refine) and Harm-Benefit analysis. These tenets are enshrined into most national laws and institutional guidelines, as well as in the European Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. However, both are subject to increasing contests concerning their relevance with regard to our current understanding of animal welfare science, ethics and law, transparency in their review process led by Animal Ethics Committees, and their actual implementation in the laboratories by the animal research community.

This Contemporary Debates Seminar will dive into the concept of 3R and explore the practical issues involved in implementing them with examples taken from research, education and testing. A broader view on animal research ethics will also be taken, with considerations pertaining to the care of research staff, the scientific validity of animal use, or the moral status of animals being included. In these interactive sessions, course participants will attend presentations from leading international and national experts, and invited to discuss the ethical issues and proposed solutions at the end of each session.

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