People – «Reflective, rebellious, reliable»

Presenting our members of the steering committee: 3 responses from Dr. med. vet. Elin Törnqvist, 3R researcher at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Head of Department at National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala

1. Please describe yourself using 3 words that start with an R?

Reflective, rebellious, reliable.

2. What was your motivation to become an NRP 79 Steering Committee member?

It was impossible to say no to the invitation to join the NRP 79 steering committee! As a veterinarian with a background in 3R research and communication, my experience is that the available financial resources are scarce and that 3R research is performed by researchers already established in the field. So new initiatives are needed.

Research funders, such as the SNSF, have a huge impact on the research agenda. The research community with junior and senior researchers are key to change and development when it comes to the 3Rs, and the SNSF-financed projects are inter- and transdisciplinary (disease models, toxicology, ethics and law).

I am proud to be part of this programme, and I am very excited to follow the developments within the research projects and the results.

3. In your opinion, what are the biggest hurdles when it comes to implementing 3R methods in the industry?

I believe that prejudice about the 3Rs hampers the implementation of new methods, as well as the lack of knowledge of the benefits of the 3Rs. Similar prejudices are seen in academic settings and authorities. There are prejudices about replacement, e.g. that it is impossible to replace animal models, and that research and safety will suffer if animal models are banned.

There are also prejudices about refinement, that the cost for improved animal welfare would be too high, and there is a lack of understanding about the negative effects on research quality when using stressed animals. Additional research is needed and a better understanding about animal use in research and testing, as well as funding for innovation and validation.

Communication about animal use in research without blaming and shaming would reduce prejudices and encourage private industry (and academia and authorities) to integrate the 3Rs in research and innovation.

Main fields of expertise:

  • veterinary science
  • animal handling and training
  • toxicology
  • knowledge transfer and communication
  • change management