It means a lot to be able to make a difference to the welfare of research animals at the same time as advancing science in my field.
This award recognises Rachel's extensive work to develop and optimise an in vitro method to test tuberculosis vaccine efficacy.
Rather than infecting primates or other animals with TB in order to determine levels of protection afforded by test vaccines, a blood sample is collected before and after vaccination and the ability of the cells to control bacterial growth is evaluated in the laboratory.
The aim is to provide a reproducible and high-throughput tool that allows a significant refinement in the use of animals in TB infection experiments. Rachel has worked tirelessly to transfer this method to other institutions internationally to maximise the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) impact and expedite TB vaccine development.
The awards program, founded by AAALAC International, recognises significant innovative contributions toward the 3Rs of animal research to advance ethical science.
Rachel commented: "It's wonderful to be recognised for all the work that went into this paper and the assay more widely. Of course it wouldn't have been possible without first-class mentorship from Professors Helen McShane and Helen Fletcher, excellent collaborators, and funding support from the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) and Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). It means a lot to be able to make a difference to the welfare of research animals at the same time as advancing science in my field. The use of animals in research is a contentious issue, and our students are often surprised to hear how much work is going on across the University to find alternatives and improvements."
Find more information about the 3Rs in an article Rachel wrote for Frontiers for Young Minds: https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2018.00044