The Nordic Prize for Alternatives to Animal Experiments

The Nordic Prize was established in 1996 to reward scientists or organizations for significant contributions towards replacing animal experiments. Three organizations jointly fund the prize: the Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments, the Danish Alternativfondet, and the Finnish Juliana von Wendts Stiftelse.

Award winners  2014: Christel Bergström, Maria Karlgren and Pär Matsson, Uppsala university

The Nordic Prize for Alternatives to Animal Experiments 2014 has been awarded to Christel Bergström, Maria Karlgren and Pär Matsson at Uppsala University for their contribution of animal free methods in drug development. The award ceremony will take place at Digital Health Days at Stockholmsmässan on the 25th of August, during a seminar hosted by The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments.

Using cell models and computer models, this group of Uppsala scientists has studied intestinal drug transport, how drugs pass on to the brain, which side effects can be seen, and whether there is a risk of interaction with other drugs. By using these models, substances that do not act in a desirable way can be screened out early on during the development of a new drug.

- We can identify risks and benefits early in the process, and thus design new drugs that will have the best possible profile in the body, says Christel Bergström, PhD and Associate Professor in Pharmaceutics at Uppsala University.

The motivation states that "the prize winners are future-oriented and innovative in their work, and do not shy away from pointing out the weaknesses of animal models". For Christel Bergström, it has always been important to reach as far as possible without animal experiments:

- There is no point in doing animal experiments just for the sake of it. Animals are different from humans and the results we find in an animal model is not what we can expect to find in humans. The methods we have developed are meant to be used as a tool preceding animal models, in order to avoid unnecessary testing.

The Nordic Prize for Alternatives to Animal Experiments is awarded annually or biennially to a scientist/research group for significant contributions towards the replacement of animal experiments. Three organizations jointly fund the prize: The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments, The Danish Alternativfondet and The Finnish Juliana von Wendts Stiftelse. The prize sum is 60 000 SEK.

- Drug development of today is highly dependent on animal experiments. This year's prize winners have, by developing promising animal free models, contributed towards a future where drug development to a greater extent can be achieved without using animals, says Dr Cecilia Clemedson, chair of the board of The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments.

Future ambitions are to take the knowledge to the next level; from working with a number of different proteins, the research group is now trying to put the pieces together to build a bigger platform of organs, in order to get a better understanding of drug delivery in the human body. Receiving The Nordic Prize for Alternatives to Animal Experiments encourages the trio to continue their teamwork:

- We are delighted to receive this recognition from The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments. We are all very surprised and very happy. These results are of course very important and interesting to us, and that our work is also noticed by someone else is very motivating, Christel Bergström says.

Where: Digital Health Days, Stockholmsmässan
When: 25th of August, 2014, at 14.15
Press contact: Rodrigo Garay, Secretary-General of The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments
Phone: +46(0)70-6319307 E-mail: rodrigo@forskautandjurforsok.se

Award winner 2012: Professor Stina Oredsson, Lund university

The 2012 Nordic Prize for Alternative to Animal Experiments goes to Stina Oredsson for her great contributions to reduce the use of animals in both research and education. Stina Oredsson has worked with cells and cell lines during her career and many students have been taught how to grow cells as an alternative to animal experiments by Stina Oredsson. In her research about new treatments to breast cancer Stina Oredsson use cancer cells instead of animals.

Award winner 2010: Dr Johnny T. Ottesen, Roskilde universitet, Danmark

Professor Ottesen received the award for his efforts to use mathematical models and computer simulations for research into the  cardiovascular system of humans. 

Award winner 2008: Dr Nina Forss, Helsinki university, Finland

Chronic and intensive pain is a serious problem for the patients suffering from it and new insight into the essence of pain is needed. Traditionally pain research has relied on the use of laboratory animals. Instead of using animals, doctor Nina Forss has unraveled the secrets of pain by using human volunteers. In her studies at the Brain Research Centre of Helsinki she has made use of different methods of brain imaging. Because of the high scientific and technical progress made in the unit, it has been chosen as one of the top research units in Finland.  

Award winner 2007: Dr Anna Forsby, Stockholm university, Sweden

Dr. Anna Forsby and her co-workers at the University of Stockholm are using nerve cell models to replace animal experiments. Diabetes, acute toxicity and eye irritation are examples of the research areas where Dr Forsby has recognised the possibilities of using cultured nerve cells to improve and add important information to other, existing in vitro tests. Her new assay to test if a substance or compound causes mild eye irritation may be an important addition to the battery of tests needed to finally end the cruel and scientifically questionable eye irritation tests on rabbits.
In addition to her research achievements, Anna Forsby is a motivated teacher and supervisor for a new generation of researchers who will have cell models as a tool to use in their future research careers.

Earlier award winners

2006: Professor Lisbeth Ehlert Knudsen, Kopenhagen, Denmark
2005: Dr Tarja Romela, Tampere, Finland
2004: Professor Gunnar Kratz, Linköping, Sweden
2003: Adrian och Karina Smith (NORINA), Norway
2002: Professor Roland Grafström,  Karolinska Institute, Sweden
2001: SSCT (Scandinavian Society of Cell Toxicology)
2000: Eva Selzer Rasmussen, Denmark
1999: Docent Björn Ekwall, Sweden