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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Science-Based Refinement Awards

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2019 Science-based Refinement Awards

Call for Proposals is now closed. 

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 2019 Science-Based Refinement Awards.

These awards focus on research projects to enhance the housing, handling, and/or experimental procedures for laboratory animals or that can reduce animal use by (for example) identifying areas of research and testing where animal models lack reproducibility and translational value. Hence, the small grants are intended for those who work hands-on with animals, such as animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, and animal care technicians, as well as for researchers who conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of animal studies. 

There are no Facilities and Administrative Costs allowed on these awards.

Information and application instructions:
Call for Proposals: 2019 Science-based Refinement Awards

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. 
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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