Updates from the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)
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October 23, 2018

News and Updates from CAAT



CAAT Offers New Online Course in Evidence-based Toxicology

In medicine and healthcare, evidence-based medicine has revolutionized the way that information is evaluated transparently and objectively. Over the past ten years, a movement in North America and Europe has attempted to translate this revolution to the field of toxicology. The Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) hosts the first chair for Evidence-based Toxicology (EBT) and the secretariat for the EBT Collaboration on both sides of the Atlantic. Based on the Cochrane Collaboration in Evidence-based Medicine, the EBT Collaboration was established at the CAAT to foster the development of a process for quality assurance of new toxicity tests for the assessment of safety in humans and the environment.

Systematic review and related evidence-based approaches are beginning to be adapted by regulatory agencies like the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the US National Toxicology Program. They provide transparent, objective, and consistent tools to identify, select, appraise, and extract evidence across studies. This course will showcase these emerging efforts and address opportunities and challenges to the expanded use of these tools within toxicology.

The course is free and available via Coursera.

CAAT also offers an online course on Toxicology 21: Scientific Applications, which has had over 1,000 enrolled learners since its release in March 2018. 

Making Big Sense From Big Data

Thomas Hartung has recently assumed the editorship of Public Health and Medicine for Frontiers in Big Data and Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence. In his editorial, Making Big Sense from Big Data, has been published in the journal Frontiers in Big Data. 

From the article: 

"But the point is not about generating or storing Big Data—it's about squeezing sense out of them. It is about how to ensure the quality of data and the relevance of results. We need a culture of quality control and quality assurance, and of good practices, especially when having to trust machines to derive our results. . . .
We have a moral obligation to deliver the right results and communicate them with their very real limitations to society and policy-makers. It is too easy to impress with big numbers and too difficult for non-experts to cross-check—big data need to adhere to clear standards of truthfulness and reliability."

Full text: Making Big Sense from Big Data

Hartung T (2018) Making Big Sense From Big Data. Front. Big Data 1:5. doi: 10.3389/fdata.2018.00005

Painting: Copyright © Anwen Keeling

Book Launch

Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change

Friday, November 30th, 2018
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 N. Wolfe St.
Baltimore, MD 21205
Feinstone Hall (E2030)

Russell and Burch introduced the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal experimentation in 1959 in their groundbreaking book, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (Russell and Burch, 1959). Their highest goal was to avoid the use of animals wherever possible, and—in cases where animals were still deemed indispensable—to significantly enhance their treatment while also improving the quality of research and testing. There is growing recognition that a focus on human-relevant data is needed for the understanding and possible treatment of chronic, complex diseases, many of which are not well understood and, thus, cannot be readily modeled in other animals. The technology revolution has greatly changed the field of life sciences and now provides us with tools enabling a shift away from animal experimentation. The 51 experts who contributed to Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change review current animal use in science, present new and innovative non-animal approaches to address urgent scientific questions, and offer a roadmap towards the continuing replacement and eventual elimination of animals used in science as envisioned by Russell and Burch almost 60 years ago. 

CAAT's Assistant Scientist and Veterinarian Kathrin Herrmann is one of the book's editors. Thomas Hartung contributed the concluding chapter. 

At this book launch event, several of the mostly North America-based authors will give talks based on their book chapters. Please see the program (below) for details. 

Details and Registration

Thomas Hartung Interviewed on Animals Today Radio

Thomas Hartung was interviewed on Animals Today Radio with Dr. Lori Kirshner. Hartung's portion of the interview begins at the 22 minute mark.

Animals Today Radio

Thomas Hartung Interviewed by Tierversuche Verstehen (German)

Thomas Hartung was interviewed by the German publication Tierversuche Verstehen. Full interview (in German). 

ESTIV 2018 in Berlin Sets Records

The photo shows the speakers of the ESTIV/CAAT pre-conference workshop on Good Cell Culture Practice (from left: Chantra Eskes, Thomas Hartung, Glyn Stacey, David Pamies, Sandra Coecke, and Jan van der Valk).

The 20th International Congress on In Vitro Toxicology (ESTIV2018) was co-hosted by the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV), the German Toxicology Society (GT), and CAAT-Europe. The general theme of the Congress was “new approach methodologies for in vitro toxicology applications,” which was fully reflected in the eight thematic sessions. 447 participants came from 45 countries (18% from industry, 19% students). 285 submitted abstracts plus invited presentations led to 43 oral and 233 poster presentations, which set records for the event.  

New Publication: Major Changes of Cell Function and Toxicant Sensitivity in Cultured Cells Undergoing Mild, Quasi-natural Genetic Drift

A study on the genetic stability of cells in culture published by members of CAAT may have a major impact on quality control and documentation of new approach methods (NAM) and on good cell culture practice (GCCP). 

The study's main conclusion is that each test system requires a fit-for-purpose quality evaluation, meaning that its suitability can only be tested for a specific application/purpose, but not in general. Conversely, there is no great benefit from large and resource-consuming tick list evaluations, as they do not provide sufficient confidence into the performance of the test for its specific purpose.

These issues are exemplified by full sequencing, functional testing and standard phenotypic characterization of a human cell line (LUHMES) frequently used for neurotoxicity testing or different biomedical questions.

Read the entire article "online first" from the journal Archives of Toxicology here

Gutbier, S., May, P., Berthelot, S. et al. Arch Toxicol (2018).

Next Generation Humane Science Award: Deadline December 31, 2018

This award is available annually to young scientists working in the U.S. to acknowledge and encourage researchers who focus on replacing animal experiments. The 2018 award will provide a prize of up to $9,000 recognizing the work of one young scientist, or may be shared among two or more young scientists. 

The deadline for applications is December 31, 2018

Details and Application Instructions

Call for Proposals: 2019 Science-based Refinement Awards

Attention veterinarians, animal care technicians, researchers, and those who care for the well-being of animals used in science: The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) is now accepting proposals for the 2019 Science-Based Refinement Awards.

These awards focus on research projects to enhance the housing, handling, and/or experimental procedures for laboratory animals or that can reduce animal use by (for example) identifying areas of research and testing where animal models lack reproducibility and translational value. Hence, the small grants are intended for those who work hands-on with animals, such as animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, and animal care technicians, as well as for researchers who conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of animal studies. 

For 2019, we will offer two awards of $5,000 each. There are no Facilities and Administrative Costs allowed on these awards.

Studies with animals must be non-invasive, with the possible exception of obtaining blood for biochemical measurements (and, in this case, animals should be trained to cooperate during venipuncture). Preference will be given to studies that have broad applicability.

Deadline for applications is December 31, 2018

Application and Full Information



New 3Rs Center: Swiss 3R Competence Center

The Swiss 3R Competence Centre, a not-for-profit association located in Bern, promotes research, education and communication for the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experimentation (3R principles).

The Swiss 3RCC, founded in March 2018, is a joint initiative of academia, the industry, regulators, the government and animal welfare associations.

The partners include eleven universities and higher education institutions from Switzerland, the Swiss association of the pharmaceutical industry (Interpharma), the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) and the Swiss Animal Protection (SAP).

Thomas Hartung is a member of the advisory board. 


ecopa Symposium: Final Agenda Now Available
November 5-6, 2018

The final program of the Ecopa symposium “How new experimental tools in life sciences challeng the 3Rs vision” is now available

Registration deadline is October 25th—register now!

4 Post-MsC, PhD, and Postdoc Positions at Szeged University, Hungary

Center for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products, Faculty of Medicine
Newly established: Pluripotent stem cell laboratory by Prof Andras Dinnyes

Applications start: from Oct 2018
Positions Starting: from January 2019. (PhD student: Sept 2019)

Candidate expertise: good cell culture experience is expected, neurobiology and molecular biology expertise are plus

Send cv to:

More information:


Best wishes from all of us,

The CAAT Team
hand holding centrifuge tubes

Upcoming Events

Altertox Academy Training:
Culture of human highly relevant cells according to Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP) including Good Cell Culture Practice (GCCP)
October 30-31, 2018
Vienna, Austria

Altertox Academy Training:
3DTissue Engineering Quality Control – From the bench to the bedside
November 8-9
Montpellier, France

FutureTox IV
November 14-16, 2018
Arlington, VA

Altertox Academy Training:
In Vitro Lung Models 
November 15-16
Geneva, Switzerland

Altertox Academy Training:
Skin Sensitization
November 22-23, 2018
Ludgwighshafen, Germany

Scientific Liaison Coaltion Webinar: Practical Application of SR in the US
November 27, 2018
Online Webinar​

Book Launch: Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change
November 30, 2018

Society of Toxicology of Canada 50th Symposium and Annual Meeting
December 10-12, 2018

ESTIV/ASCCT Applied In Vitro Toxicology Course
April 14-19, 2019
Bucharest, Romania

Full Listing of CAAT Programs
and Activities



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