The board of the Einstein Foundation approved the preliminary stage of a new Einstein Center for the development of alternative methods for animal testing in biomedical research. The aim of the planned center is to reduce or replace animal experiments. In the preparatory phase, the set up of infrastructure and research netting are being funded. 522,000 euros will be made available for the preliminary stage. In total, the state of Berlin is providing the Einstein Foundation in 2020/21 with 1.35 million euros for the new Einstein Center. After a renewed assessment of the overall concept by the scientific commission of the Einstein Foundation, the center could begin its work in full in 2021.
The foundation of an "Einstein Center 3R" (3R: Replace, Reduce, Refine) was initiated by Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and the Technische Universität Berlin (TU); it is being developed in close cooperation with the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The center aims to create a long-term research network in Berlin, in which tissue models can be researched and innovative projects can be developed. Furthermore, universities shall gain an awareness for the topic especially while training graduate reseachers as well as communicating with the public.
"Given the particular importance of animal testing in biomedical research, it is an even greater obligation to reduce them to a minimum, to carry out animal experiments in the highest possible quality or – where possible – to replace them," says Prof. Dr. Günter Stock, the CEO of the Einstein Foundation on the occasion of the funding decision.
Berlin State Secretary for Science and Research, Steffen Krach, explains: “Berlin is the center for biomedical research throughout Germany. This goes hand in hand with our aspiration to research alternative methods to animal testing in order to strengthen animal protection and reduce animal testing in research. As a state, we support the important step of bundling activities in Berlin's scientific institutions in a new Einstein Center. With our broad Berlin research network, we play a pioneering role in this area.”
The 3R principle as developed by William Russell and Rex Burch aims at replacing animal experiments or refining animal experiments so as to reduce the numbers to a minimum. For this purpose, experimental methods such as 3D models of tissue cultures, but also an expanded quality management are used in the new 3R center. The main concern of the Einstein Center is to advance the development of therapy methods for human diseases, to improve the transferability of laboratory knowledge to the patient and at the same time to strengthen animal welfare. In the planned center, young scientists should be able to apply the 3R principle rigorously through training, instruction and betterment. Also, science communication and dialogue with the public will be key factors of the mission of the new center.
“We have been promoting Charité3R very vigorously in the development of alternative methods since 2018 and are working intensively to make those animal experiments that are irreplaceable for research on therapies more gentle. The new Einstein Center creates a cross-institutional structure in Berlin that also drives the implementation of the 3R principle on an international level,” says the Dean of Charité and Interim CEO of BIH, Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries.