Doing away with dissection
At a meet at SRMC, Chennai, scientists from across the globe will demonstrate eco-friendly alternatives used in teaching life sciences.
The International Centre for Alternatives in Research and Education (I-CARE), a unit of People for Animals, together with Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute (Deemed University), Chennai, and the International Institute for Biotechnology & Toxicology (IIBAT), Chennai, is organising the First Indian Congress on Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Research, Testing & Education. It would be held from January 29 to 31, 2007 at SRMC, Chennai.
A survey indicates that in 95 per cent of the cases, the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology between 1902 and 1996, was awarded to scientists for research conducted without the use of animals for findings that emanated from research conducted by in vitro methods, mathematical modelling, physico-chemical methods and on less sentient organisms like invertebrates, micro-organisms and plants.
The 3R concept
More than a coincidence, it presaged the philosophy of the two scientists, William Russel and Rex Burch, when they gave the world in 1959 the concept of the 3Rs Reduction, Refinement and Replacement for use of animals in experimentation and teaching.
The concept has evolved today as "the science of alternatives," making sweeping changes in laboratory techniques across the world in knowledge that only humane science can be good science and the use of non-animal methods in experimentation is innate to credible research. In education, dissection besides hurting the animal being dissected upon, has no learning significance. Dissection only perpetrates the idea that harming animals is both acceptable and legitimate and serves to nurture an instinct, if any, of violence and insensitivity in a student.
Further, dissection is a harmful exercise in that it hurts our ecology and ecological balances in nature by way of millions of insects/animals being killed daily in the name of learning. The Congress will bring to the country some of the new discoveries in in vitro technology, and environment-friendly alternatives used in teaching life sciences. Internationally-renowned scientists from the world's best universities and institutes engaged in alternatives research and validation will also give delegates an opportunity to see and have hands-on experience in several in vitro methods, currently employed in basic bio-medical research, regulatory testing and life science education.
Special contributions will include those of Prof. Dr. Alan Goldberg, Director, Center for Alternatives to Animals, Johns Hopkins University, who will talk about the reality and credibility of doing research with non-animal methods in one of the world's best medical universities.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Hartung, Head, European Center For the Validation of Alternatives Methods, the alternatives platform of the European Commission, will address the impact that alternative methods have had in regulatory testing of drugs, cosmetics and chemicals, their incorporation in the OECD testing guidelines and the thrust and priority given by the EC in promoting the concept of alternatives.
Workshops in basic bio-medical research include that of preparing micro-vessels from brain and setting up of primary nerve cell cultures. The session on education will include the use and demonstration of the new and comprehensive website carrying information on more than a 1,000 alternatives www.ethical-learning.com prepared and engineered by Dr. Massimo Tettamanti, ICARE/ATRA, Switzerland.
Among the speakers will be the Secretary, Union Department of Science and Technology, T. Ramasami, and medical administrator, Ketan Desai.
Scientists, lecturers, scholars, academicians, students, corporates, pharma industry and members of IAEC/IACUCs can attend this congress, which is co-sponsored by The Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation, Switzerland; Alternatives Research & Development Council, USA, and Medical Council of India.
The author is the coordinator for the conference and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For details of registration, look up at www.icare-worldwide.org or contact Haritha Ramachandran, Congress Communications Officer. Email: email@example.com. or firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 98404 82829/98408 12957/98412 82473
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