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Veterinary Medicine
07/11/2013 | Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Press Release from Utrecht University 

Utrecht professor wins award for developing alternatives to lab animal testing

On 14 November, Prof. Bas Blaauboer will be presented with the Willy van Heumen Prize by the Alternatives for Laboratory Animals Stimulus Fund Foundation. The award will include a prize of 25,000 Euros. Prof. Hans Clevers, President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), will present the award.

Prof. Blaauboer is Professor of Alternatives to Animal Testing in Toxicological Risk Assessment at Utrecht University’s Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences. This chair was endowed by the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation. He will receive the Willy van Heumen prize for his entire body of work, involving the 3 R’s of laboratory animal testing – replacement, reduction and refinement.

Progress through in vitro systems and computer models
The assessment of risks of exposure to substances is primarily based on data obtained through tests conducted on laboratory animals. Advances in biological science and in the application of computer models make it possible to estimate the risks without the use of animal models. It is now vital that governments introduce these new strategies for determining norms for exposure.
Blaauboer remarks: “The question is how we can utilise these new strategies that offer better predictions for the risks to humans and animals”.
Animal experiments are not ideal for research on diseases, according to Blaauboer: “We have to look for better models. The current tests for toxicity cause animal suffering. We should not use them unless absolutely necessary. Much can be determined using in vitro tests instead, and they provide better data for assessing risks .”

Blaauboer is ‘very honoured’ with the award. “It will hopefully encourage young scientists to use modern research methods to predict the toxicity of substances. Eventually, we will have to convince the government that these methods are just as effective”, says an inspired Prof. Bas Blaauboer.

Willy van Heumen Prize
The Willy van Heumen Prize is presented every other year by the Alternatives for Laboratory Animal Testing Stimulus Fund Foundation. It is intended for individuals or institutions that have made outstanding achievements in limiting the use of laboratory animal tests and promoting the use of alternatives to animal testing.
This year’s award will be presented during the Openness & Transparency project leader meeting of the programme ‘More Knowledge with Fewer Animals’, organised by ZonMW, NKCA and CSG on 14 November 2013. ZonMW supports health research and health care innovation.

Laboratory Animals and Utrecht University
Utrecht University conducts veterinary, medical and biological research in the fields of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. In addition to experiments based on cell and tissue culture techniques, computer simulations and human volunteers, university researchers also conduct tests on animals when no other options are available. All laboratory animal testing at Utrecht University is conducted in a responsible manner, which entails that researchers always look for ways to implement the 3 R’s of animal testing – replacement, reduction and refinement. Utrecht University plays a leading role in the field of alternatives to laboratory animal testing in the Netherlands. The university is the home of the chair groups Animal Welfare and Laboratory Animal Studies, Alternatives for Animal Testing and Alternatives for Laboratory Animal Testing in Toxicological Risk Assessment. The latter even has its own Utrecht Life Sciences 3R Centre. Utrecht University is also a partner in the Netherlands Knowledge Centre for Alternatives to Laboratory Animal Testing (NKCA) at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. See also:

For more information and press inquiries:
Stephan van Meulebrouck, Communications Dept., Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Utrecht University, (030) 253 8858,

For more information on the Willy van Heumen Prize and the Alternatives to Laboratory Animal Testing Stimulus Fund Foundation, visit (in Dutch only).

The Foundation can be contacted via Mr. J.J.M. ten Berge (Secretary), tel.: 024- 323 6650, e-mail: or