Advancing Ethical Science: 2024 Animal Welfare Excellence Award Winners

Congratulations to the School of Biomedical Sciences teams that were recognised in the 2024 Animal Welfare Excellence Awards.

The Animal Welfare Excellence Awards is a University of Melbourne initiative commending innovative and outstanding contributions to the 3Rs of animal research – Replacement, Reduction, or Refinement.

At the inaugural event, the awardees shared insights into the challenges they faced and the significant benefits their work has brought to their animals, their teams, and the scientific community.

Winning Teams from the School of Biomedical Sciences

First Place

Dr Laura Cook and Dr Laraib Amir Ali, Dept of Microbiology & Immunology, received first place for their groundbreaking work on organoids—3D tissue cultures that mimic the structure and function of human organs. Their innovative human gut organoid system, which includes immune cell co-cultures, represents a significant milestone.

Previously, organoids lacked immune cells which prevented immunological studies. This advancement marks a crucial step towards reducing and eventually eliminating the use of animals in pre-clinical models while expanding the possibilities for applying organoids in immunological research.

We particularly commend this team for their dedicated efforts to engage and train others in these technologies.

Animal Welfare Excellence Awards judges

Dr Cook is currently working on establishing a Human Organoid Platform at the Doherty Institute, an initiative to help drive the development of organoid technology and the replacement of animals in both discovery and pre-clinical studies.

Third Place

A/Prof Peter Crouch, Dr Jeffrey Liddell and Dr James Hilton, Dept of Anatomy & Physiology were awarded third place for their groundbreaking alternative to traditional methods of administering therapeutics to mice. Their innovative discovery holds great promise for the administration of other therapeutic substances beyond Motor Neuron Disease.

Highly Commended

Prof Erica Fletcher and Dr Andrew Jobling, Dept of Anatomy & Physiology were highly commended for their development of a novel approach to administering tamoxifen in transgenic mice. Tamoxifen is a substance frequently used in biomedical research to “turn on” or delete genes from specific cell types in transgenic mice. 

Together, the awardees' research looks to the possibility of eliminating animal use in research.

These awards are a testament to the innovative research conducted at our School of Biomedical Sciences—expanding the possibilities of scientific research, solving medical challenges and leading to real-world applications.

For more information on the University of Melbourne Animal Welfare Excellence Awards visit here.