2021 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 2021
Application of the 3Rs, researchers - joint - Mr Alexander James Ainscough, PhD student
Mr Ainscough receives the Provost’s Award for the generation of an organ-on-a-chip model of a pulmonary artery as model to study Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). No single animal model of PAH is able to recapitulate human PAH and thus multiple animal models are often required to obtain meaningful insights into disease pathology or toxicity. Mr Ainscough model could recapitulate key elements of normally functioning blood vessels and induce functional responses associated with PAH, particularly the proliferation element that is so crucial to understanding disease progression. This novel system potentially reduces the number of compounds that may enter animal testing at a later date and could cause avoidable, unnecessary suffering.
Application of the 3Rs, researchers - joint - Dr Jacob Broughton-Venner, Research Associate
Dr Broughton-Venner receives the Provost’s Award for setting up a novel non-ionising ultrasound imaging and image processing to produce unprecedented resolution of the structure and flow of animal microcirculation. This work is the first to non-invasively image the intestinal villi and obtain metrics, such as villi length, without the needs of culling the animal. Thanks to the new protocol, with this single application to the small intestine, a significant reduction in required animals could be made (e.g. reducing numbers 6-10 fold). Furthermore, although this work has concentrated on the small intestine the technology and protocol are now being expanded to other organs, namely the liver, pancreas, terminal-ileum and large intestine, which will widen interested audience and hence the animal reduction. The use of non-invasive imaging to investigate blood flow, rather than e.g. intravital microscopy, also represents a refinement of current practices.
Application of the 3Rs, CBS staff - The all of Central Biomedical Services Staff
For 2021 the CBS staff category was dedicated to the all CBS staff for to commend the dedication to the welfare of the animals and the science ongoing at the College demonstrated from every single person in the department. The commitment and dedication that CBS staff have demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic and the exceptional circumstances that Imperial College faced in the last year, is an example for many. Therefore, for this year, the commission decided to give the Provost’s Award to all the staff members.
Team award - Dr Alasdair Gallie, Named Veterinary Surgeon; Dr Andrea Pollard, research associate; Dr Davide Kolma-Ebri, research associate
This team receives the Provost’s Award for their work to optimise the use of Tamoxifen for cell-specific over-expression of a target gene. Oral delivery of Tamoxifen in the diet or drinking water is unpredictable due to bitter taste resulting in dehydration of animals, variable dosing and phenotype outcomes, and a consequent requirement for large numbers of experimental mice. With the help and support of Dr Gallie, the team has investigated approaches to refine the route of administration and dose of tamoxifen required to achieve optimal Cre recombination yet minimise adverse effects. The team work highlighted in this application has contributed to produce College-wide guidance for tamoxifen users. Moreover, the results from this study will be published to provide evidence-based recommendations to the scientific community.
Public Engagment award - Ms Julia Nagonska, animal technician; Ms Amy Wathen, Named training and Competency Officer
This team receives the Provost’s Award for setting an excellent example for others and allowing the public to learn more about animal research and what it means to work in an animal facility. In 2020 the CBS department has produced a series of podcasts to hear directly from animal research workers about their experiences during the pandemic and how it has affected their everyday lives and jobs. Ms Nagonska and Ms Wathen are the protagonists of the first two episodes. The commission has appraised the passion with which Ms Nagonska and Ms Wathen participated into the project giving the public a chance of learning first hands what does it mean working in the animal's research industry and how their job and personal life has been affected by the pandemic. The commitment towards openness showed from them and the use of an innovative communication channel, as the podcast, will open the door for future similar initiatives. The project was welcomed with enthusiasm from the Imperial community and was also commended by UAR and NC3Rs as an excellent example of openness in animal research.