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InterNICHE has had another good year of progress in replacement of animal experiments and establishment of humane education - with international recognition of the network’s achievements.

InterNICHE Partner organisation in Iran, the Iranian Anti-Vivisection Association (IAVA), jointly won the 2016 Lush Prize for Training for their work to implement alternatives. The Lush Prize is a global initiative that rewards scientists, young researchers, organisations and others for outstanding work in achieving replacement and facilitating the growth of humane science. IAVA is a small but active organisation and the only one in Iran that addresses animal experimentation. It works within a very challenging environment where campaigning is not typical, and where animals, especially dogs, are often seen very negatively. With a predominantly academic membership, it has been campaigning successfully for replacement alternatives, working with veterinary and other faculties since being founded by InterNICHE National Contact Dr Ramak Roshanaie 6 years ago.

IAVA has held seminars and multimedia exhibitions of InterNICHE alternatives at universities and academic conferences across the country. In 2016 it held Iran’s first academic animal rights panel, and recently helped establish an animal welfare and rights course at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tehran. It has also been lobbying the Ministries of Education, Health and Science to change the education system nationally. To popularise humane education and to support teachers and students, translation of the InterNICHE website into Farsi is continuing. Replacement has been achieved in a number of practical classes in anatomy, pathology, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology and surgery through the use of software, self-experimentation apparatus and the establishment of a body donation program for ethically sourced animal cadavers. The campaigners have also liberated and re-homed animals used in or scheduled for experiments at a number of veterinary faculties. This usually involves buying or taking the animals with permission.

Planning, writing, editing and ongoing fundraising continues for major projects from InterNICHE including the veterinary alternatives film, case studies book and next major conference. A 3-year strategy for a major project covering North America has also been drafted, to help facilitate progress in Canada and the USA. Through the completion of the film, case studies book and a range of other new resources it will provide a template for action and have potential for application internationally.

Meanwhile, the InterNICHE email lists have been restructured, and the Facebook page continues to offer resources. These include news and updates, petitions, articles about new alternatives, a look at virtual reality in medicine, details about training for scientists working in research and testing, and more. The InterNICHE Alternatives Loan System, managed by new National Contact for Portugal Mariana Vieira Crespo, has loaned collections of alternatives for trial and for display at events in France, Switzerland, Croatia, Germany, Denmark and Portugal, some with Nick Jukes and others visiting as speakers and demonstrators. Other Loan Systems, managed by InterNICHE National Contacts or Partners, are located across the world and are used within that region. They include countries such as Russia, Peru, Kenya, South Africa and India. The Loan Systems now need funds to upgrade and extend the contents.

Over 50 new alternatives were identified and added to the online InterNICHE Alternative Database at in 2016, primarily models and software. The growing potential of Android and iPhone applications as alternatives, along with online resources, is being recognised. The Alternatives Database manager is Dmitry Leporsky, also National Contact for the Ukraine, whose negotiations with universities have helped achieve widespread replacement, as reported before. In 2016, 3 new agreements with universities have replaced the annual use of nearly 1800 vertebrates and invertebrates in physiology and other practical classes.

Further replacement will be achieved in 2017 as software that is being developed by Dmitry in collaboration with new InterNICHE Partners for Russia, Vadim Danko and Maxim Kolonok, and several teachers, is ready for launch. This will provide important replacement potential for the discipline of pathophysiology, which often involves severe experiments on animals but for which there are very few alternatives. It will be widely distributed by InterNICHE and will be available as freeware to encourage its spread and implementation.

Dmitry also visited Belarus in 2016, and along with InterNICHE Partners for Russia, was able to donate 5 refurbished computers to a university, replacing the annual use of nearly 400 mice as part of a new agreement. A first visit to Kazakhstan was made during the year, with a seminar that brought together teachers from across the country. Following this exploratory outreach, a larger regional outreach event to the Caucasus and Central Asia will be organized in 2017 with Nick Jukes. Countries likely to be visited will include Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

As a stakeholder, InterNICHE was invited by the European Commission to complete a survey to review the Directive 2010/63/EU on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes. InterNICHE addressed education and training, its field of focus, and gave feedback on whether the Directive has encouraged the development and implementation of alternatives; on obstacles to that process and the potential solutions; and on information gathering about alternatives. The conclusion from InterNICHE was that there is anecdotal evidence of progress, but it may be very limited; and that there is much potential for improvement that can in turn offer opportunities to bring about direct replacement.

A full-day alternatives seminar for the Government of Croatia and ethical committees was held in the country in a collaboration between InterNICHE, its Partner organisation Animal Friends Croatia and the Ministry of Agriculture. Participants from across the country attended, including Ministry officials, teachers and representatives of local ethics committees from different universities. There has been some positive progress in Croatia during the past 2 years as universities and ethical committees take alternatives more seriously and decline some requests for harmful animal use, guided by the existing 2006 Animal Protection Act and the draft new Animal Protection Act. The latter reflects Directive 2010/63/EU from the European Commission, which now includes education and training. Harmful animal use at primary and secondary level is already banned in Croatia. Collaboration between InterNICHE and Animal Friends will continue, with a view to banning harmful animal use in higher education.

Progress towards replacement in Serbia, including reflections on the opportunities and challenges associated with ethical committees, was explored at the event in a presentation by Katarina Novaković from InterNICHE Partner organisation ORCA. Following a period of progressive social activism in the country, and with significant input from Katarina Novaković, former President of Serbia Boris Tadić signed the ORCA Resolution on Animal Welfare in 2005, leading to the first Animal Protection Act passing in 2009. Article 44 of the law states that harmful use of animals in primary and secondary schools as well as in undergraduate studies is banned. The text of Article 44 was chosen to closely reflect the InterNICHE Policy.

A broad range of campaigning activity was done by Katarina Novaković in 2016. This included ethical committee work and an associated rejection of permissions to perform experiments and dissections, outreach to non-registered and non-compliant universities, and lobbying. In 2017 she will continue surveying animal use, organise and train the lay persons on ethical committees nationally, and defend Article 44 in the coming review of the law. Resources produced in Serbia are now being shared with the participants in Croatia. These include a workbook for practical classes in physiology, produced by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Belgrade. This publication guides the learning of physiology through the use of a range of alternatives. Maja Orešković Igrić from Croatia and Katarina Novaković from Serbia have now become InterNICHE National Contacts.

In Germany, Dr Hans Braun from Marburg University has launched the latest updates of the Virtual Physiology series of software alternatives. InterNICHE has promoted SimNerv, SimMuscle and his other virtual laboratories since their development in the early 1990’s, and will begin a major promotion soon. Universities must buy the software but the authors have generously made the full versions available free to students. Details are at InterNICHE Partner organisation SATIS has been working with PETA to update the SATIS ethical ranking of universities in Germany. This database reviews the situation nationally regarding the use of animals and alternatives as well as the possibility to conscientiously object.

InterNICHE Partner Dr Andre Menache has continued to promote humane education and alternatives in France through talks and debates as well as TV, radio and magazine interviews. There is a campaign to replace the use of animals at a leading French medical school that specialises in experimental surgery, and the debate about dissection in schools is ongoing. A partial ban has led to some replacement, but with individual teachers able to choose whether they use animals or not. There are continuing efforts to persuade the Ministry of Education to ban all animal dissections at schools, and a new organisation of biology teachers has been established to promote humane education. Some student groups have borrowed alternatives from InterNICHE. Animal welfare now seems to be taken more seriously in France, as illustrated by the congress on animal replacement and alternatives organised by several French politicians. Dr Menache has also spoken about alternatives in education at events in Belgium, including a government organised life science conference.

A full day seminar on alternatives in education and training was organised by InterNICHE at the University of Porto in Portugal. The event was to support the process of replacement that had been initiated by teachers but that is being hindered by opposition from other teachers and the university administration. At a university in Lisbon, both Nick Jukes and Mariana Vieira Crespo are supporting a student group that is working to stop the purchase of new dogs that would be used by students for clinical skills and surgery practice. The group is also busy recovering and re-homing the old dogs that have already suffered the experience for many years, and is demonstrating alternatives borrowed from the InterNICHE Alternatives Loan System. One canine mannekin has already been bought by the university, but InterNICHE is lobbying the university directly and offering support for full replacement.

Progress in Brazil includes two major successes: First the passing of a national law that formally allows conscientious objection to harmful animal use, such as animal experiments; and second the ongoing push for a national ban on harmful animal use in education and training. To support the call for a ban, InterNICHE organised letters of support from across the world, signed by organisations, senior officials and teachers who support or use only replacement alternatives. These were delivered to CONCEA, the government agency that controls animal experimentation. A detailed letter from InterNICHE was also presented at CONCEA’s national conference. Due to the political chaos engulfing Brazil, decisions on the proposal have been postponed until March 2017. Dr Róber Bachinski, who has been behind these and many other initiatives, is the new InterNICHE Partner for the country, following many years of informal collaboration. Dr Bachinski is also Director of The 1R Institute, which jointly won the 2016 Lush Prize for Lobbying for its work supporting students and campaigning for replacement.

In South Africa, InterNICHE Partners the NSPCA have designed their own basic rat anatomy model and established a production and distribution system to spread the model to schools and colleges. An advanced frog model is also being developed. The alternatives will be available for sale globally with support from InterNICHE. The NSPCA has also conducted surveys at schools and universities about alternatives, to understand needs and help support the process of replacement and implementation.

Egyptian contact and veterinarian Dr Fawzy Elnady from Cairo University, who developed the Elnady Technique for inexpensive preservation, continues to refine his method. Using ethically sourced animal cadavers derived from fatal accidents and from clinics where the animal could not be saved, he has been building a new simulation laboratory for training students in anatomy, clinical skills and surgery. Some preserved specimens are being incorporated into more complex models made from artificial materials, producing new alternatives such as a cow dystocia model. Other specimens are being sent to a new non-university training centre being established with InterNICHE support. This will give students further hands-on experience and help in the shift away from live animal experimentation that continues at the university, particularly in surgery. A YouTube channel demonstrates the alternatives to viewers, and further academic papers on the method have been published with input from Nick Jukes.

National Contact for Israel, Tamir Lousky, has been supporting 5 student conscientious objectors from across the country. Each is now able to continue their course without harmful animal use or penalty. Along with the Israeli Society for the Abolition of Vivisection (ISAV), InterNICHE Israel has also begun planning for a media heavy, national campaign to end the use of animals in all mandatory courses in medical education. Practical classes in physiology and surgery, particularly trauma training, still exist at 2 of the 4 medical schools. Trauma training by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) using live pigs is also being challenged now. The campaign will range from social media work to the possibility of legal action.

InterNICHE Partners in Taiwan, the Life Conservationist Association (LCA), have published a comprehensive guide to alternatives in education, focusing on high school level but also addressing higher education, and with information about InterNICHE Policy and resources. Details are at By working with the government’s Council of Agriculture, LCA have provided training on animal protection and alternatives for teachers, and will distribute the book to over 1800 high schools. They are also working with a teacher who developed his own non-animal and cadaver alternatives for the veterinary clinical skills and surgery training course a decade ago, and another who is planning to replace animal use within training for laboratory animal science. The need for replacement within physiology and pharmacology teaching has also been identified as a priority. The growing translation of the InterNICHE website into Traditional Chinese by LCA is providing a valuable online resource for Taiwan.

In Canada, National Contact Dr Berreville continues to work with other groups to try to get alternatives adopted at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and to get the University to ban severe experiments. A federal-level petition to ban these experiments is also being promoted. In Argentina, InterNICHE Partner Dr Martha Gutiérrez has been working on a new Law for the Protection of Animals which will be presented to the National Congress in 2017, following revision. InterNICHE will input into that process. In the UK, a campaign against using reindeer at a university market was held, and several students across the country have been conscientiously objecting with support from InterNICHE. New enquiries and new collaboration has begun with teachers from countries and regions such as Morocco, Algeria and across Central Asia who are interested in or already working with alternatives.

In India, an InterNICHE visit is scheduled to provide a state speaking tour, meetings about the establishment of virtual laboratories, national level training, and government-backed meetings with academic councils. InterNICHE Partner organisation in Kenya, the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), may organise in 2017 a pan-African event in Kenya with InterNICHE as a co-organiser. Nick Jukes will also chair a session at the 10th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences (WC10), being held in the USA in August 2017. A number of submissions for giving replacement-focused presentations at the congress will be made by InterNICHE.