Replacing animal testing challenge

I enjoyed working with students with different backgrounds and the interdisciplinary character of this challenge. My world became bigger, broader because of it.

When we walk into our local supermarket, we can assume that the products we buy are not harmful for our health. What is often not realized is that all products are tested on animals: from the ingredients to the packaging, all is screened with use of laboratory animals. Is the use of animals for our product and medical safety important or could we do without?

What did the collaboration entail?

37 students worked within a course on ideas to find alternatives to animal testing in research and education. The course ran from 14th of February 2022 to 1st of July 2022, with the students spending 10 hours a week on the challenge. They worked in teams to find a solution, under the guidance of a coach. The course was open to all third-year bachelor and all master students from all different disciplines and backgrounds at TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht as well as third-year bachelor student of the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. 

Purpose of collaboration in education

Students worked in multi-disciplinary teams, in order to search for solutions together across the boundaries of disciplines. Through this challenge, students work together with experts from different disciplines, are offered specific skill trainings and collaborate on live events. Through challenge-based learning, students work on authentic complex social problems. Students learn life skills and create impact. They learn to look at a societal problem from different perspectives and find solutions together. The students werea mixed groups from the alliance universities and from the Hogeschool Utrecht. The topic of replacing animal tests is very complex and touches many aspects in our society. At the same time it is our (Stichting Proefdiervrij) daily business. The way of thinking and innovative ideas from the students can help immensely towards a world in which lab animal are obsolete. We are convinced that the next generation scientists are part of the solution.

I feel honoured I was in the jury of the education challenge final last Friday. What a great winners we had! They developed a roadmap of the MAT (monocyte activation test); an animalfree model to replace tests on rabbits. It provides a beautiful example of how to validate and implement non-animal methods. To all participants: great job!! Thanks for you effort!

(Intended) result

At the end of the course the student teams pitched their ideas and solutions to a jury panel: RIVM, AstraZeneca, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the challenge agent Proefdiervrij. The jury assessed the concepts and the team which developed a roadmap of the MAT (monocyte activation test), an animalfree model to replace tests on rabbits, won this challenge. Insight in the roadmap will be an example for other animalfree methods

Some of the products were really inspriring. The student's point of view was original and out of the box. The students will be the researchers and regulators ot tomorrow: it is worth investing in developing their creativity and critical skills. The result of the winning team helped in the development of a roadmap on validation of animalfree innovations. It served as a practical example. But not just the winning team provided results of interest; we are currently working on our plans for next year in which we might incorporate some of the results and ideas coming from this challenge.

Collaborating party on behalf of UU

Alliance EWUU. This was open to all 3rd year bachelor and master students.

Collaborating external party


Do you want to know more?

Want to know more about the Replacing animal testing challenge??

More about the challenge
More about the final event of the challenge
More about the winner of the challenge