The World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences serves as an important platform for thousands of multidisciplinary stakeholders from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit sectors to gather around the common goal of improving the lives and health of both humans and animals through advances in research and testing.
The conference, established in 1993 by the Alternatives Congress Trust, offers a collaborative forum to advance the principles of the 3Rs—replacement, reduction, and refinement—in research and testing.
The Physicians Committee’s team of science and policy experts will lead eight scientific sessions and workshops, deliver five presentations, and showcase five posters on many aspects of advancing ethical science to improve outcomes while reducing and replacing animal use.
The conference will be held Aug. 27 – 31, 2023, in Niagara Falls, Canada
Workshop Sessions, Panels, and Presentations
Sunday, Aug. 27
Satellite Meeting* (8:30 to 10 a.m.): An Update on International Animal-Free Antibodies Efforts will convene organizations to discuss the current efforts to increase advocacy, education, and access to animal-free antibodies for biomedical research. *Invitation only
Monday, Aug. 28
Workshop Session (9 to 10:30 a.m.): More Than the 3Rs – What Should Principles of Animal Ethics Look Like Today? will examine the key ethical principles to be considered before any animal is used in research.
Presentation: Bird’s Eye View: Strengthening Protections for Wild Animals in Research by Ron Baron, research advocacy coordinator (Physicians Committee), will explore the lack of research and regulation of wildlife species.
Workshop Session (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.): Contemporary Challenges for the Animal Care Committees
Co-Chair: Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy (Physicians Committee)
Speakers will address a range of critical challenges for animal care committees, from workload and regulatory loopholes to the development of nonanimal methods and responding to evolving public perceptions around the use of animals in experiments.
Presentation: Never Say “No”: An Analysis of Corner-Cutting Measures by IACUCs at Major Public Universities in the United States
Overview of the Designated Member Review (DMR) process, which allows proposed animal use protocols to gain approval with just a single Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) member review. Attendees will gain valuable insight from a data analysis of DMR usage and a discussion of the historical context and legal implications of DMR under U.S. federal law.
Workshop Session (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) An Auspicious Outreach Plan for Adverse Outcome Pathways in Higher Education
Co-Chair: Ann Lam, medical research program director (Physicians Committee)
This session will focus on practical strategies to enhance the prevalence of AOP-based lesson plans and course content, to provide the next generation of toxicologists with essential knowledge about this (AOP) framework. Attendees will learn about the significance of AOPs as a key tool for communicating the advantages and availability of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) and for shaping the future of toxicology education.
Tuesday, Aug. 29
ICAPO Meet-Up (7 a.m.)
Members of the International Council on Animal Protections in the OECD (ICAPO) are invited to meet on Tuesday morning. Contact the ICAPO secretariat at eslankster [at] pcrm.org (eslanksteratpcrmdotorg) for more information.
#UseScienceNotAnimals World Café – Unilever (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)
Members of the Physicians Committee, Phoebe Woodruff and Eryn Slankster-Schmierer, were invited to help coordinate the Unilever #UseScienceNot Animals World Café on Tuesday evening. The event will feature:
- A Science Slam
- Tools and Approaches booths
- Education and Training booths showcasing the Physicians Committee’s NURA and Summer Immersion programs
- A scavenger hunt with the chance to win prizes!
- Attendees will have opportunities to interact with mentors
- Vegan hors d’oeuvres.
Wednesday, Aug. 30
Workshop Session (9 to 10 a.m.): Science for Policy, Policy for Science: Engaging Policymakers to Advance Science and Ethics
A panel of experts will analyze the policy framework underlying the transformative innovations & applications like Organ-on-a-Chip, 3D-bioprinting, and related Microphysiological Systems (MPS). The implementation of discerning policies towards improving the drug development process, reducing the cost of medicine, streamlining biomedical research, improving safety and toxicity testing, and promoting sustainability will be evaluated through the societal, technological, and economic lens.
Presentation: Partnering with Policymakers to Advance NAMs: Strategies and Best Practices that Achieve Results by Elizabeth Baker, Esq., director of research policy (Physicians Committee)
Workshop Session (9 to 10:30 a.m.): It’s How You Say It! Effective Science Communication to Promote Animal Replacement
Co-Chair: Catharine E. Krebs, PhD, medical research specialist (Physicians Committee)
Effective science communication is imperative in accelerating the important shift towards human-centered biomedical research and testing. It requires complex scientific concepts to be easily digestible; it requires the use of persuasive arguments that drive home the myriad costs of animal research; and it requires combating misinformation and hyperbole from high-powered pro-animal research interests that are firmly planted in the status quo. In this workshop, experts will present about effectively communicating the need to shift the research paradigm away from animals with a variety of stakeholders, including researchers, the media, and the public.
Workshop Session (11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.): Show Me the Animal Data! Animal Methods Bias in Publishing and Funding
Co-Chair: Catharine E. Krebs, PhD, Medical Research Specialist (Physicians Committee)
“Animal methods bias,” a preference for animal-based methods where nonanimal-based methods are suitable, is a barrier to developing and increasing the use of nonanimal research methods. The session will highlight challenges and solutions for mitigating animal methods bias in manuscript peer review and research funding.
Presentation: Confronting Animal Methods Bias in Scientific Publishing will outline the efforts needed to shift away from animals in biomedical research and testing. This presentation will (1) provide evidence of animal methods bias in publishing, including anecdotal accounts and survey results, (2) explore its consequences, including the conduct of unnecessary animal experiments and negative career repercussions, and (3) discuss ongoing work of the Animal Methods Bias Taskforce.
Thursday, Aug. 31
Workshop panelist (9 to 10:30 a.m.): “Of Mice and Not Men: Empowering Next-Gen Scientists for Careers in NAMs”
Chair: Catharine E. Krebs, PhD, medical research specialist (Physicians Committee)
The focus of this solution-room workshop is to address the pervasive “animal data bias” entrenched in the contemporary scientific culture—where animal studies are all too often requested to validate human biology-based studies. Through a moderated panel discussion with audience participation, the goal is to collate ideas for a bottom-up approach to support next-gen NAM scientists in navigating the treacherous waters of grant and journal reviews to obtain funding, publish, and build a successful career without having to generate new animal data.
Symposium (9 to 10:30 a.m.): Refinement’s Impact on Research – A Critical Review
This session will address the practical impact of refinement on scientific progress and animal use. Attendees will hear from experts who have conducted refinement research and assessed its application in practice, and translatability to the human setting.
Presentation: Gaps and Considerations in Oversight and Research Limitations in Use of Human Nonhuman Animal Chimeras
Ann Lam, PhD, medical research program director (Physicians Committee)
View WC12 Poster List
Human-Centered Biomedical Research (Monday, Aug. 28, 12:30 to 2 p.m.)
Considering Xenotransplantation and Other More Viable Solutions to the Organ Shortage (Poster B2, Abstract #570)
Catharine E. Krebs, PhD, medical research specialist (Physicians Committee)
Poster will delve into the critical issues of the current organ shortage, highlight the potential of viable solutions such as xenotransplantation, and explore the promising frontier of safer, more ethical biotechnology solutions like organ bioprinting. The presentation will discuss the need for careful consideration and recommendations for shifting research and resources towards more tenable strategies: the prevention of end-stage chronic diseases; optimizing living donation, improving organ rejection management, expanding donor criteria, and advocating for opt-out donation systems.
Refinement and Impact on Science (Monday, Aug. 28, 12:30 to 2 p.m.)
Animal Use and Opportunities for Reduction in Carcinogenicity Studies for Pharmaceuticals (Poster C22, Abstract #706)
Eryn Slankster-Schmierer, regulatory testing specialist (Physicians Committee)
This poster provides recommendations to reduce the number of animals used in carcinogenicity studies by 46%, based on the New Drug Applications made publicly available from 2015-2019. The methods outlined include weight of evidence assessment using the 2022 ICH S1B R1 addendum, implementing microsampling of blood, replacing long-term studies in mice with short term transgenic studies, and extra control groups.
Ethics, Welfare, Policies, and Regulations (Tuesday, Aug. 29, 12:30 to 2 p.m.)
Analysis of Research Animal Numbers at U.S. Government-Funded Laboratories (Poster E29, Abstract #406)
Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy (Physicians Committee)
Unlike other western nations, the U.S. lacks comprehensive data on vertebrate animals used in research. This poster will present the inconsistences found in a groundbreaking analysis of over 1,000 laboratories and discuss the significant effort needed to obtain this data. The session will provide recommendations for implementing new policy changes to enhance transparency around animal use and for improving ongoing collaborative efforts with members of U.S. Congress.
Sharp Increases in U.S. Animal Research Post-COVID (Poster E37, Abstract #71)
Ryan Merkley, director of research advocacy (Physicians Committee), Elizabeth Baker, Esq., director of research policy (Physicians Committee)
Despite a slowly decreasing trend in usage of animals leading up to 2019, there was a sharp increase in nearly all AWA-covered species during 2020 and 2021. This reflects a pronounced disconnect between public health needs for human-relevant methods and our current research investment.
Engaging Congress to Influence Agencies: A Laser-Focus on Appropriations Legislation (Poster E22, Abstract #400)
Emily Anderson, policy advocate (Physicians Committee)
This poster highlights the U.S. appropriations process as an annual opportunity for advocates and stakeholders to engage with Congress to make progress for nonanimal approaches, through increased funding for nonanimal methods and changes to federal agencies’ policies and practices. It describes successful lobbying strategies and some successes for nonanimal approaches that the Physicians Committee has helped to secure in appropriations legislation in recent years.
Regulatory Acceptance and Global Harmonization (Tuesday, Aug. 29, 12:30 to 2 p.m.)
Fever Pitch: Restoring Global Harmonization of Bacterial Endotoxins Testing (Poster A44, Abstract #264)
Elizabeth Baker, Esq., director of research policy (Physicians Committee)
Present findings of stakeholder consensus that recombinant Factor C methods have been shown to meet performance criteria for analytical procedures as described by both ICH Q2 and USP <1225>, and stakeholder agreement around the immediate establishment of a compendial U.S. chapter to help restore global harmonization of endotoxins.
Next-Gen Education (Tuesday, Aug. 29, 12:30 to 2 p.m.)
NURA offers free training to advance New Approach Methodologies in Toxicological Assessment (Poster D4, Abstract #393)
Eryn Slankster-Schmierer, regulatory testing specialist (Physicians Committee), Jessica Ponder, regulatory testing analyst (Physicians Committee), Phoebe Woodruff, research and regulatory affairs associate (Physicians Committee), Elizabeth Baker, Esq., director of research policy (Physicians Committee)