Skip Navigation
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Reduction and Refinement Awards

Picture of a Mouse

Call for Proposals: 2021 Reduction and Refinement Award

Formerly Science-based Refinement Award

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 2021 Reduction and Refinement Award.

This award focuses on research projects that help reduce animal use by (for example) identifying areas of research and testing where animal models lack reproducibility and translational value or that enhance the housing, handling, and/or experimental procedures for laboratory animals who are still deemed necessary. Hence, the grant is intended for researchers who conduct systematic reviews, meta-analyses, or citation analyses of animal studies or similar work with the goal to reduce animal use in science. This award is also for those who work hands-on with animals, such as animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, and animal care technicians, whose projects can improve the animals’ living situation in the laboratory.

The Award includes prize money of USD 6,000. There are no Facilities and Administrative Costs allowed on this award.

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.

The proposal should include a detailed description of the planned study and its anticipated outcomes. It should provide sufficient detail so reviewers can understand what is being proposed and how the data will be evaluated and used. If procedures involve animals, information must be given in detail, similar to what is submitted to an Animal Care and Use Committee. The proposal should not exceed eight pages, including any supplemental information (with the exception of the CV). A breakdown of the proposed budget should be included.

Review Criteria:

  • Impact on animal welfare
  • Innovation of proposal
  • Likelihood of obtaining publishable data within the proposed timeframe
  • Scope of applicability
  • Contribution to knowledge about animal behavior/welfare
  • Quality of study design

Each application using animals must be approved by the applicant's Animal Care and Use Committee (or similar authority if submitted from outside of the US), and the proposal itself must be co-signed by the Head of Animal Services at the Institution. Acceptance of this award implies that funds for this specific research are not currently available from other sources. It is anticipated that successful applicants also will submit a manuscript of their project and its outcome to a professional journal.

Proposal Format Guidelines:

  • Title of proposed study
  • Name and position of applicant(s), including CV
  • Institution name
  • Contact information
  • Proposal details (see above)
  • If applicable: approval(s) and signature(s) of Animal Care and Use Committee (or similar authority)

Applications should be submitted electronically to the Coordinator of the Beyond Classical Refinement Program, Kathrin Herrmann, at

The deadline for receipt of submissions is January 31st, 2021.

Applications will be reviewed by an international group of reviewers. CAAT then will make the final decisions on the proposal(s) to be funded.  The applicants will be informed about the review committee’s decision in May 2021. CAAT reserves the right not to bestow an award.

For information about previous CAAT-funded refinement studies, please visit the main awards page.


2019 Awardee: Costança Carvalho

In 2019, we presented the award to Constança Carvalho (University of Lisbon), for her project "Rat use in Major Depressive Disorder research. Assessing the past to improve the future."

Resulting publication

Carvalho, C., Peste, F., Marques, T. A., Knight, A., & Vicente, L. M. (2020). The Contribution of Rat Studies to Current Knowledge of Major Depressive Disorder: Results From Citation Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1486.


The aim of this project was to conduct a citation analysis to determine the frequency with which animal papers using rats as models to study Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are subsequently cited within human medical papers on this disorder.

The results show that 49% of the rat papers were never cited in papers describing human studies on MDD. In fact 30% of those papers were never cited in any subsequent human paper.

The results also show that less than 10% of the citations received by the rat papers were by human papers. More than half of the citations were by subsequent animal papers, suggesting that studies using rats for MDD are mainly used to feed subsequent animal papers and are not particularly visible or considered important by human medical research community.

These outcomes have been—and will continue to be- shared within the scientific community, stakeholders and general public.

For scientific community

These study was published in Frontier in Psychology, which is the largest journal in its field (psychological sciences) and the most cited multidisciplinary psychology journal. It is read by clinicians, researchers and general public.

Some of the data collected within the scopus of this grant will also be used in a paper (still in preparation) focused on the forced swim test, a highly severe procedure commonly conducted on rodents in studies targettng MDD.

The study was also presented in scientific meetings in Faculty of Sciences of University of Lisbon.

The outcomes of this study were made available for the ethics commitee of faculty of sciences, members of ECVAM (Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing) and legislators. In a near future, I intent to send the results to the ethics commitees of the main animal laboratories focused on modelling mental disorders.

The conclusions of this study have been mentioned in national newspapers, making it more visible to general public.

For 2019, we presented two awards for $5,000:
Constança Carvalho
Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Citation analysis on the contribution of rat models to our current understanding of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Summary: Rats are widely used as models for all sorts of human disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) - the most severe type of human depression.

Many rats used in MDD research are used in severe procedures without refinement. For example, animals that present  behavioral trait “learned helplessness” are conditioned through inescapable electric shock. Also, the behavioral trait “behavioral despair”, measured through “forced swim test”, is considered a severe procedure used with no or minimal refinement. Painful procedures like these are accepted because they are seen as a need for a greater good, which is to understand and ultimately cure MDD. However this greater good has only been assumed-  the contribution of animal models to current understanding of MDD has never been empirically evaluated.

We will conduct a comprehensive search on original papers on MDD research resorting to rats as models and perform a citation analysis on the papers located.  We will verify how many times each paper was cited and in what sort of subsequent papers. More precisely, we will determine how many papers resorting to rats were never cited in subsequent human medical papers on MDD as well as the proportion of studies cited by human medical papers compared to other citation categories.

We expect these data to inform researchers, ethics committees and funding agencies on the actual contribution of rat models to current knowledge of MDD, providing evidence-based data to be used whenever there is a need to conduct cost-benefit analysis prior research with minimum or no refinement.
And Steven Chamuleau
Department of Cardiology, UMC Utrecht, The Netherlands
For promoting transparency in preclinical research through the establishment of a preregistration platform for animal studies

Summary: Last year, the University Medical Center Utrecht, Radboudumc and the Netherlands Heart Institute launched the first online register for animal study protocols:

Researchers can register their study protocol by filling out a registration form consisting of 34 questions related to the study design, including steps taken to reduce the risk of bias (i.e. blinding, randomization and sample size calculations). This will increase awareness of these tools and allows researchers to provide more detailed information on the procedures used to reduce bias. Furthermore, the risk of reporting bias is reduced by enabling comparison of the study manuscript with the original study protocol. 
All protocols will be stored in the corresponding database, enabling researchers to search for unpublished studies before starting their own, thus helping to avoid unnecessary duplication of studies. Registration is free of charge and it is possible to use an embargo option. All approved protocols are time-stamped. Changes can be made and are traceable. We encourage all researchers to (pre)register their animal study. 
For more information contact

2017 Award Recipients

  • Bret Tallent (University of Arizona College of Medicine)
    Reducing aggressive behavior in mice with the addition of cage dividers
  • Jenny Estes (University of North Carolina)
    Behavioral and reproductive impacts of different housing strategies and pseudoloma neurophilia infection in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio)

2015 Award Recipients

  • Brianna Gaskill (Purdue University)
    The influence of husbandry parameters on sleep and overall welfare in laboratory mice
  • Debra Hickman (Indiana University)
    Effects of music enrichment on individually housed New Zealand white rabbits

  • Renee Hukkanen (Dow Chemical Company)
    Methods development for pair housing of male mice
  • Cathy Shuppli (University of British Columbia)
    Refining animal experiments by fostering a culture of empathy and compassion

  • Melanie Young (UCLA)
    Efficacy of using pseudopregnant mice as fosters to eliminate surplus litters

2014 Award Recipients

2013 Award Recipients

2012 Award Recipients

2011 Award Recipients

2009 Award Recipients

2008 Award Recipients

2007 Award Recipient

2006 Award Recipients: Available Final Reports

2006 Award Recipients

2005 Award Recipients: Available Final Reports

2005 Award Recipients

2004 Award Recipients: Final Reports