CHARTING A NEW COURSE
The use of animals in science has been a standard practice for centuries in efforts to find the keys to treat human diseases, to test the safety of products, and as teaching tools—often because that’s where tradition and funding have directed research efforts. Today many leading scientists, including members of IFER’s Scientific Advisory Board, recognize the inherent inadequacy of other species to predict what happens in humans. Notably, Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, stated that: “The use of animal models for therapeutic development and target validation is time consuming, costly, and may not accurately predict efficacy in humans.” *
Since 1985, IFER has supported innovative scientists who have sought to replace traditional toxicity tests that blinded and poisoned millions of animals and to develop models of diseases with human tissue and cells. IFER has also supported efforts that enhance our understanding and respect for other species with non-invasive, non-harmful field studies. IFER is especially proud of its investments in young scientists at the beginning of their careers with its Graduate Fellowship Program. And IFER has provided support for conferences, symposia and the dissemination of information on scientific endeavors that replace the use of animals.
IFER has awarded more than a million dollars in grants to scientists and fellowships to graduate students whose projects have included many innovations in:
- A lung culture system to help evaluate airborne toxicants;
- The use of human cells to study the pathology of leishmaniasis
- A human corneal model and synthetic human skin equivalent to replace the Draize eye and skin irritancy tests and for burn studies;
- Methods to improve cryopreservation of human cells and engineered tissues for product safety testing;
- A psychomotor skills board to help medical and veterinary students perfect their suturing skills;
- An interactive computer simulation program of renal function;
- Methodologies to improve noninvasive behavioral studies of animals in their native habitats;
- Sponsorship of numerous national and international science conferences and symposia to promote emerging opportunities in science. Past grants have included support for the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, the annual meetings of the Society for In Vitro Biology, and training workshops conducted by the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc.