Launched in 2014, the Provost’s Awards for excellence in animal research acknowledged staff who have made advances in the 3Rs, shown openness or demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving research practice. Winners receive £1,000 to cover costs of presenting their work to a wider audience.

Award winners for 2018

Application of the 3Rs, researchers - Professor Esther Rodriguez-Villegas, Chair of Low Power Electronics Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Professor Rodriguez-Villegas receives the Provost’s Award for the pioneering research that has led to the development of TaiNi, a wireless brain monitoring system that has the potential to revolutionise the field of neurophysiological research, whilst at the same time significantly improving animals’ welfare. The technical difficulties surpassed by Professor Rodriguez-Villegas to create TaiNi, the world’s smallest and lightest neural monitoring system, is a prime example of her expertise, creativity and leadership, as well as her vision and commitment in improving animal research. Her work is an excellent example of the application of the 3Rs with the potential to transform science, drug development and animal welfare, and offers significant 3Rs benefits.

Application of the 3Rs, CBS staff - Mr Anthony Iglesias, CBS Facility Manager and Mr Gareth Wild, Animal Technician

Mr Iglesias and Mr Wild receive the Provost’s Award for researching and testing a new long lasting, non-toxic marker pen specifically for use with laboratory animals. By restraining an animal very lightly, the pen can be applied to the fur anywhere on their body, allowing the handler to follow a simple guide to identify animals individually. A trial involving sentinel mice has shown that the marks made by the pen last for over ten weeks without the need for re-application. This refinement work will allow individual identification of animals as soon as they begin to grow fur, while the non-invasive application method means that no pain is involved. The new pen also means that animals can be identified and tracked at an early age without regular restraint – reducing the risk of disturbance to the dam and litter.

Team award - Miss Hannah Jones, Animal technician; Mr Phil Rawson, Senior Technician and Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer; Dr Lindsay Benson, Named Veterinary Surgeon; Dr Richard Jabbour, BHF Clinical Research Fellow; Professor Sian Harding, Professor of Cardiac Pharmacology

This team receives the Provost’s Award for their development of a rabbit model to test stem cell patch grafting onto injured hearts. The rabbit myocardial infarction model was successfully established and implemented at Imperial in September 2017 thanks to the exceptional team work between researchers and CBS staff. Dr Richard Jabbour, a cardiologist, learned the complex myocardial infarction model after spending time with experts at the University of Glasgow. The staff at Imperial, in particular Miss Jones, Dr Benson and Mr Rawson, used their expertise to advise Dr Jabbour on both periprocedural and post-operative care. Since initiation, several refinements have been implemented which have improved the existing Glasgow model. The team work highlighted in this application is an exemplary illustration of how research should be carried out at Imperial.

Communications award - From Imperial College London: Dr Rebecca Holloway, Dr Annalisa Alexander, the CBS Team at South Kensington. From Understanding Animal Research: Mr John Meredith, Ms Liz Danner. From Westminster Academy: Ms Holly Youlden, Ms Paula Bull, Mr Harry Gilloway, Ms Julia Dwyer.

This team receives the Provost’s Award for their innovative and novel approach to communicating animal research developed in collaboration with Imperial’s Outreach team, CBS and the membership organisation, Understanding Animal Research (UAR). Students from Westminster Academy took part in a carefully coordinated outreach event in the Wohl Reach Out Lab at Imperial consisting of a pre-visit by UAR to their school to gauge their understanding and feelings about using animals in research, followed by a full-day visit to the College. The students participated in a lab activity using daphnia and had a tour of the animal facility, where they learned about the work that goes on there. They also had the chance to handle some of the animals and to speak to a wide range of staff. The collaboration between CBS, the Outreach team and UAR was a fantastic opportunity and has opened doors for future collaborative events and projects, which more schools are keen to be involved in.