2020 Award winners
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.
Winners of the previous editions can be found in the yearly Annual Reports.
Award winners for 2020
Application of the 3Rs, researchers - Ms Aldara Martin-Alonso, PhD student
Ms Martin-Alonso receive the Provost’s Award for her contribution in the refinements of a surgical technique in mice that allows unprecedented insights into the function of the vagus nerve. Uncovering the complexities of nutrient and hormonal signalling in the gut-brain axis is important for understanding body weight regulation. The vagus nerve is the major neural link between the gut and the brain. Therefore, understanding the way it signals appetite and blood sugar control can help to develop effective treatments for obesity and diabetes. Only animal models will give us insights into this complex system. This new technique is less invasive than vagal lesioning surgeries and survival rates are close to 100%.
Application of the 3Rs, CBS staff - Dr Nicoleta Baxan, Manager and MRI Physicist Biological Imaging Centre
Dr Baxan receive the Provost’s Award for vital role in the the Biological imaging Centre (BIC) to ensure the successful implementation of 3Rs into all the projects. She is the reference person to help/ensure that experiments are properly designed, and make sure that the imaging procedure/protocols are in line with more informative and humane endpoints and functional details to be studied in the context of a living animal. Importantly, she has also established/uniformed imaging database and standardised imaging techniques in BIC, which can be applied to characterise different in vivo disease models. This will benefit all the research groups at Imperial College. Dr Baxan has developed state of the art MRI techniques and she has made substantial efforts to establish sensitive, reliable and reproducible MRI metrics aiming to capture the subtle cardiac structural and functional changes of the heart.
Team award - Mr Yateen Patel, PhD student; Miss Anna Roberts, PhD student; Dr Alasdair Gallie, Named Veterinary Surgeon; Mr Philip Rawson, Senior Technician
The team receive the Provost’s Award for their work develop glucose clamping in the conscious, unrestrained mouse. This technique is the gold standard methodology for measuring all aspects of glucose metabolism in the animal model and is vastly superior to standard glucose tolerance tests because it gives much more detail about the mechanism of disrupted glucose metabolism which is vital to the understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes. The involvement of all individuals in the setting up of this new technique has not only greatly benefited the research, but has also been of great interest to CBS staff. In fact, the surgical techniques and the associated post-operative care, has helped guide both fellow researchers and CBS staff set up similar techniques within Imperial College. The team has already been asked to share this technique with other groups interested in comprehensive metabolic phenotyping. The setting up of unrestrained glucose clamping in the mouse has been a great team venture that will help to reduce the number of animals used for similar studies and couldn’t have occurred without the help of all individuals involved offering their specific skills sets and expertise.
Public Engagment award - Dr Anna Napolitano, CBS Communications Quality Assurance and 3Rs Programme Manager
Dr Napolitano receive the Provost’s Award for her significant commitment to enhancing communication with wider audiences about the role of animal research, improving communication between the research community and the public. Thanks to her work, she has improved public relations and cementing the College’s commitment to the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research. Dr Napolitano constant promotion of the College and various events promoting openness has now been recognised externally leading the College’s openness to be recognised across the EU, with many other Universities now looking at the College to inspire a paradigm shift in the way Animal Research is promoted at their institutions. Dr Napolitano work has now lead to the College issuing a set of guidelines and heading a working group to help guide European universities to make positive steps towards openness