Within the 10th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Seattle, we (Annemarie Lang, Frank Schulze) organized and held the You-WC10 as a workshop aiming at young and early career scientists that already work or plan to work in the field of the 3Rs. We wanted to encourage the dialogue of young scientist among themselves and with older peers that have been working in the field for a long time, thereby creating the opportunity for establishing new professional networks.
The You-WC10 included three sections:
1) Follow the 3R Career paths, where experienced researchers talked about their personal career paths that lead them to the 3R’s
2) Meet the Professor, a round table session where young scientist were able to meet with experienced Scientists to discuss and network in an open atmosphere
3) Enjoy Seattle together, a social event were young scientist had the opportunity to enjoy a guided pub crawl through Seattle, get to know each other and form new independent networks
By providing these three segments, we successfully created a free and open atmosphere for the exchange of scientific ideas and career experiences alike and also had a lot of fun!
The YOU-WC10 started at Sunday the 20th of August 4.30 pm with the “Follow the 3R Career Paths”-Session counting about 20 participants. We were delighted about 4 really interesting and inspiring speakers that accepted our invitation and not only gave insights into their career development but also useful advices for career building in general. Maurice Whelan works at the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) where he is head of the Chemical Safety and Alternative Methods Unit and the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM). He started out in the engineering field and his early research focused on design of orthopaedic knee prostheses. After joining the JRC his work in optical sensing and imaging brought him into the area of in vitro methods, high throughput screening and alternatives to animal testing. He encouraged young scientists to strive for interdisciplinarity in their research and to consciously reflect if targeted career goals are in accordance with personal life goals. According to him, there is no formula for a successful and fulfilling career since everyone has to find their own path. However it is important to embrace opportunities to learn and grow professionally by taking on challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. Katrin Schütte (EU-Commission) took a more conventional career path based on the study of Nutrition Sciences and a PhD in Neurobiology, followed by an excursion to the industry where she was trained as a human safety toxicologist. As a policy officer at the Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) of the EU-Commission, she is now responsible for the implementation of the Directive 2010/63/EU on protection of animals used for scientific purposes which has the final goal of replacing animal testing, in addition to responsibilities for the chemicals regulation REACH. Thomas Hartung the director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) – Johns Hopkins University inspired the young scientists by showing the variety of topics that need to be addressed in the future. Furthermore, he was telling success stories in the field of alternatives to animal testing from the last decades, emphasized the advantages to be a generalist with a wide range of interests and stressed out that an unerring instinct for hot topics is needed for successful career building. In addition, he took us with him through a fascinating professional path including professorships in Germany, the leadership at ECVAM and finally the head of CAAT. Nicole Kleinstreuer from the National Toxicology Programs’ Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NTP NICEATM) completed the session with an impressive career path starting with a passion for mathematics and physics. She pointed out that sometimes personal goals can very well match professional ones as exemplified by her one year travel in New Zealand that she nicely combined with an internship followed by a PhD-thesis. Additionally, it is beneficial to be more honest about personal deadlines and be self-confident about our work. To summarize, it was a great opportunity for all the young scientists and ourselves to have a look behind the curtain, to get inspired and to gain knowledge about the variety of career opportunities within the field of alternatives to animal testing. Therefore, we like to thank the speakers for their enthusiasm that was present in every talk and for the experience as a whole!
On Tuesday the 22nd of September the “Meet the Professor”-Session took place in the afternoon. About 25 participants used the possibility to get in direct contact with experts in the field and to discuss and exchange ideas in an open atmosphere. Four roundtables were formed with the first one hosted by Joanne Zurlo (Johns Hopkins University) and Christa ThöneReineke (Free University – Berlin, BB3R) on Refinement and Animal Welfare. The second roundtable centered on organ-on-a-chip technology and was hosted by Terry Kavanagh and his colleague Dave Eaton (both University of Washington), discussing the advantages of using primary cells, their experiences with microfluidic renal models and the rationale of sending the latter ones into space. The third roundtable focused on Neurotoxicity and was hosted by Ellen Fritsche (IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf) and Helena Hogberg (Johns Hopkins University & CAAT) who addressed current hot topics in the field and career opportunities within academic research. The last roundtable was hosted by Jan van der Valk (3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences (ULS), Utrecht) discussing the established 3R databases (humane endpoints, similarity of animal models) and the critical topic of using animal-derived Fetal Calf Serum (FCS) as a supplement in cell culture. The round table sessions took place in a relaxed and joyful atmosphere as indicated by regular laughing. A general good mood was supported by snacks and soft drinks provided by the WC10 organizing committee. The participants were so adsorbed in the discussion that everyone agreed that the session was over far too soon! We like to thank the experts for their willingness to share their opinions with the young scientists as well as the WC10 organizers for their support!
On Tuesday, directly after the “Meet-the-Professor”-Session we left together for our last segment: “Enjoy Seattle together”, a guided Pub Crawl through microbreweries and bars. Along the way, additional participants of the conference joined the group increasing our group size to 35-40 people. The Pub crawl was conducted by our tour-guide Scott (many thanks to him!) who awaited us with pizza in the “Optimism brewing company” close to Seattle’s Broadway, an optimal spot due to a lot of space and a great selection of beer. In order to further induce networking between the participating scientists, we introduced a game with the promise of winning awards after successful finalization. Therefore, we had prepared several stickers with either an OECD guideline title and number (match pairs) or adverse outcome (AO) and their accompanying molecular initiating event (MIE). The game was a modified version of the so-called “AOP game” introduced to us at the JRC ECVAM Summer School that took place in this year’s May in Ispra, Italy. The aim of the game was to find the matching partner, e.g. for a OECD guideline number the matching title of for a MIE the matching AO. It was a great fun for everyone involved and indeed facilitated an increased exchange among the participants. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) kindly provided our awards in the form of bottle openers, bags and egg timers. The evening really helped to form new contacts and to exchange opinions and was enjoyed by everyone involved. Therefore, we would like to say a big THANK YOU to the sponsors of the Pub Crawl enabling us to provide pizza and free drinks – these were namely: Cellasys GmbH, Cellbricks GmbH, TissUse GmbH and AniMatch UG.
To conclude, the YOU-WC10 was a complete success and should be continued!
Finally, the organization and implementation would not have been possible without the support of Elaine Faustman, Joanne Zurlo, Robert Kavlock and Ellen Fritsche – big thanks! The events were also supported by the Institute for Risk Analysis & Risk Communication (School of Public Health, University of Washington).
In addition, we like to thank Michele McDermott and Bridget Van Egmond from FASEB as well as the speakers, roundtable-hosts and participants. The rollup, flyers, awards and travel costs for Frank Schulze were kindly provided by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment/German Center for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (BfR/Bf3R). We want to express our gratitude for this support and also thank Prof. Gilbert Schönfelder for constructive discussions regarding the YOU-WC10 preparation. Last but not least, we like to thank our helpers: Katharina Hohlbaum, Alexandra Damerau and Moritz Pfeiffenberger.
During the different events we collected a mailing list of the participants that will be used to build a network of young scientists within the field of alternatives to animal testing. If you are interested in the network and want to join, please send us your e-mail.
We hope that you also enjoyed the YOU-WC10 as we did and are looking forward seeing you @ YOU-WC11 in Maastricht 2020
Annemarie Lang & Frank Schulze
Dr. med. vet. Annemarie Lang AG Buttgereit – Bioenergetics, Glucocorticoids & 3R-Research Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany E-Mail: Annemarie.firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +49 30 450 513384/-64
Dr. Ing. Frank Schulze Federal Institute for Risk Assessment Department Experimental Toxicology and ZEBET Group 92, alternative methods for animal testing Max-Dohrn-Straße 8–10, 10589 Berlin, Germany E-Mail: Frank.Schulze@bfr.bund.de Phone +49 30 18412-3702