3 Projects about Animal Ethics at the IBMB

There are currently 3 projects around animal ethics running at the IBMB: 

“EXPLOR3R: Exploring 3R with experimental ethics”, a project on “Advancing 3R” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
Project Information: While there is a considerable body of literature on 3R, its application in practice, and its connection to professional opinion, EXPLOR3R will use experimental ethics to explore how scientists, other animal workers or members of the public perceive the ethics of 3R. The project will use a mixed-methods approach with qualitative interviews with scientists, other animal workers and the public in the first phase and two large quantitative surveys in the second phase. In each of these phases, the foundations, application and scope of 3R will be investigated and re-evaluated, along with participants’ more general views on animals. EXPLOR3R will future-proof the 3R paradigm, ensuring that it remains aligned with key reflective ethical values rather than intuitive reflexive thinking.

Project NRP79: 3R-sTrategies and Harm-benefIt analysis: uNderstanding decision-maKing and improving con-sistency and accountability in animal experiment evaluations in Switzerland [THINK-3R]
Project Information: The law requires scientists to argue that the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) have been maximized, i.e. that the same benefits could not have been achieved with lower impact on animal welfare. In-ternational studies show considerable inconsistency as to how Animal Ethics Commissions and their individual members evaluate animal protocols. As long as inconsistencies remain poorly understood and opaque, they can be a source of decreased confidence of society in the decision-making process. This project uses a mixed methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative studies to identify strategies designed to improve consistency of research project evaluations and to understand factors that influence decision making.

Implementing 3Rs in Switzerland: an interdisciplinary in-depth exploration of barriers and facilitators [Implement-3R]
Project Information: The national and international regulatory framework concerning the use of animals for research stipulates adherence to the 3R principles (“replace, reduce, refine”). In addition, Swiss law requires researchers to demonstrate a favourable benefit-harm ratio to justify animal experiments. Given the important role of researchers concerning 3R-interpretation and implementation, the project will explore experiences and attitudes of researchers, members of animal ethics commissions and academic leaders using a mixed-methods approach. The aim is to establish an evidence-based dialogue between researchers and regulators and to improve the implementation of 3R-methods in Switzerland. Methods include a Review of the existing frameworks both from a theoretical (legal text and ethical guideline analysis) and empirical perspective (description of the process by involved stakeholders). Qualitative semi-structured interviews and focus groups will be employed to address barriers and possible solutions to facilitate the implementation of the 3Rs.