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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Reduction and Refinement Awards

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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.


2021 Awardee: Abby C. Collier, PhD

In 2021, we presented the award to Abby C. Collier PhD (The University of British Columbia), for her project "In vitro-in-vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) and physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modelling."


In vitro-in-vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) and physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modelling

(PBPK) are mathematical approaches to taking data from a laboratory and translating it to useful approaches for deciding on drug dosages in clinical trials and chemical or environmental safety standards. Animals are used to understand how drug and environmental chemicals exert their effects and to evaluate their safety/toxicity profiles. Enzymes are major determinants of drug/chemical efficacy and toxicity, that localize to different parts inside the cell known as microsomes and cytosol. We can purify these enzymes by isolating the microsomes and cytosol from animal tissues. In this manner one animal can be used for studying multiple drugs and chemicals, rather than multiple animals per chemical. More importantly, once standard microsome and cytosol mathematical parameters are characterized and validated (called “scalars”), they do not change. We recently identified the lack of a comprehensive review collating, comparing and contrasting the scalars needed to build the mathematical models from pre-clinical animals. The goal of this project is to collect and collate the microsomal and cytosolic scalars to produce a resource that integrates and evaluates them, then provides best-practice guidance for their usage. We will also identify gaps in knowledge of scalars that have not yet been produced. In the short term this can reduce the number of animals used in pharmacological and toxicological research, in the long term we hope to eliminate animal use all together.

Abby C. Collier PhD
Professor of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
Director Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPSc) Degree Program
he University of British Columbia

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