3R Research Foundation Switzerland - Front page

Annual report 2003

1. Origin of the Foundation

The Foundation is a cooperative institution set up by the Parliamentary Group for Animal Experimentation Questions (public organ), Interpharma (Novartis Pharma Ltd, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Serono Ltd) and the Foundation for Animal-Free Research (animal protection). It was entered in the commercial register on 18th August, 1987.

The funds provided to subsidise research stem from the Federal Veterinary Office and Interpharma.

2. Purpose of the Foundation

The purpose of the 3R Research Foundation Switzerland is to promote alternative research methods which avoid the use of animals through grants for research projects. The organisation supports first and foremost projects aimed at developing new methods or refining accepted methods (validation) which offer practical improvements vis-à-vis standard animal experimentation in line with the 3R motto Reduce, Refine, Replace.

A broad range of projects is sponsored on the condition that they are likely to reduce the number of animals used or the stress and/or pain suffered. Projects considered must be based on the Foundation's three principles and are mainly in the bio-medical multidisciplinary field.

3. Activities during 2003

In its seventeenth year of existence the Administrative Board met twice, in March and December, for a half-day meeting. Apart from the statutory business concerning the end of the business year 2002, the Board addressed the following issues.

Research funds for 2003 were allotted to 11 projects already underway. In addition, 6 new projects were approved, while 19 applications were rejected. The Board also took note of the final assessment by the Evaluation Committee of 3 projects which had been completed in the previous year. In December the guidelines were modified to stipulate that each project leader is required to produce a summary of his or her project for publication on the internet. Furthermore, the 3R Training Course internet learning programme for people who carry out or supervise animal experimentation was presented to the Administrative Board. Funding was increased with a view to completing this project.

With the support of the scientific advisor, the Evaluation Committee held two meetings during the year, where in particular they assessed new applications and evaluated completed projects. The voluntary work of the members of the Evaluation Committee in this connection is much appreciated.

The scientific adviser's tasks included publishing the 3R Info Bulletin (as a brochure and on the Foundation's internet site at www.forschung3r.ch), writing brief scientific reports in English which present the projects receiving funding and regularly updating the Foundation's internet site. He was also busy working with Oekosophie GmbH to set up the 3R Training Course internet learning programme for people who carry out or supervise animal experimentation. He also devoted a good deal of time to advising applicants and project leaders, calling for intermediate reports, evaluating draft projects, dealing with enquiries and explaining the rejection of applications. Finally, he represented the Foundation at several meetings in Switzerland and abroad.

4. Projects subsidised

Overview of the number of applications and approvals

The rapid process of development in molecular biology and analytical methods is opening up new approaches for carrying out the 3R principles. This may well explain why the number of applications has risen dramatically. The number of applications received in 2003, namely 25, representing a total of Sfr. 5.25 million was a record which had not been seen for many years. The growth in interest can also be seen from the origin of the application: 14 from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, 7 from the Romandie and 4 from various other European countries. Six projects were approved, representing a total subsidy of Sfr. 819,000. The decisive factor for approval is not only the high scientific quality of the project but also the research aim, as indicated in the appendix to the guidelines for awarding research grants.

During the year 5 projects were completed (52/96, 69/99, 72/00, 73/00 and 76/01). Together with those projects completed earlier (1-5/87, 6-15/88, 16/89, 17-20/90, 21-24/91, 25-42/92, 43-44/95, 45-51/96, 53-55/96, 57-62/97, 64/97, 65/98, 66/99, 68/99 and 74/00) this brings the total of finished projects to 70 out of 90.

3R Training Course

The Federal Veterinary Office and Interpharma asked the Foundation to set up the 3R Training Course internet leaning programme for people who carry out or supervise animal experimentation. This course has been recognised by the Association of Cantonal Veterinary Officers as a further training course under the terms of the ordinance issued by the Federal Veterinary Office on 12th October 1998 concerning the training of specialised staff for animal experimentation (SR 455.171.2). The programme can be viewed at http://3R-training.tierversuch.ch.

The scientific adviser was responsible for supervising the project while Oekosophie GmbH in Basle developed the software. It was only possible to set up this learning programme thanks to the voluntary help and assistance of the specialists from various research fields. The result is a learning programme in German and English with the emphasis on alternative methods that offers the possibility of further training in this field (at present seven areas) with a subsequent examination via the internet that is assessed and marked.

This new internet tool offers great flexibility. It can easily be corrected or modified to meet users' needs at any time, as well as expanded. It is also planned to include further topical areas. The 3R Training Course is the first internet-based learning programme in this field that includes an official assessment of the student's achievement.

5. Personnel

Following his retirement as director of the Federal Veterinary Office, Prof. Ulrich Kihm announced his resignation from the Administrative Board as from the end of March 2003. His replacement at the head of the Federal Veterinary Office, Dr. Hans Wyss, has been elected to the Board. In addition, in March 2003 the various officers of the Foundation (Administrative Board, Evaluation Committee, Appeal Board, Auditors, Secretary) were re-elected in compliance with the Foundation's statutory regulation concerning the 2003-2006 period of office.

At the 4th European Workshop of National Platforms on Alternative Methods held in Brussels the Foundation's scientific adviser was elected to the Board of ecopa.

6. 3R-Info-Bulletin

So far the following 3R Information Bulletins have been published in English:

1June 1994Foundation Research 3R
2Sept. 1994mAbs without mice?
3Dec. 1994Gerhard Zbinden and 3R
4April 1995Predicting human drug metabolism
5August 1995Human recombinant antibodies
6Sept. 1995Call for 3R-Research Proposals
7March 1996The three 'R's of Russel & Burch, 1959
8August 1996Regulation of digestion in cell culture
9October 1996Permanent fish cell cultures as novel tools in environmental toxicology
10August 1997Ten years 3R Research Foundation
11March 1999Immunization of laboratory animals
12Sept. 1999Leishmaniasis: Development of an in vitro assay for drug screening
13January 2000Identification of neurotoxic chemicals in cell cultures
14May 2000Transgenic protozoa as an alternative to transgenic animals
15Sept. 2000Aggregating brain cell cultures: Investigation of stroke related brain damage
16January 2001:Housing and husbandry conditions affect stereotypic behaviour in laboratory gerbils
17May 2001Fever in the test tube - towards a human(e) pyrogen test
18Sept. 2001Prevention of adverse effects in pigs after vaccination
19January 2002Phenotype characterisation and welfare assessment of transgenic mice
20May 2002Animal-free screening of biological materials for their contamination by rodent viruses
21Sept. 2002Identification of new human skin irritation markers for tests with human skin reconstructs
22January 2003Environmental enrichment does not affect the variability of animal experimentation data in the Light/Dark test.
23May 2003Simulation of stroke related damage in cultured human nerve cells.
24Sept. 2003Generation of parasite cysts in cultured cells instead of living animals.
25January 2004Formation of new blood vessels in the heart can be studied in cell cultures.

7. Financial business

During 2003 around Sfr. 670,000 was used for research grants. Project supervision and information accounted for around Sfr. 89,000 and administrative expenses totalled Sfr. 62,000. The remaining amount budgeted for setting up the 3R internet learning programme had not been used by the end of the year. Total expenditure was consequently around Sfr. 821,000. The amount spent on research for current projects (Sfr. 590,000) was thus approximately Sfr. 137,000 below budget (Sfr. 727,000). This is mainly due to the fact that funding for three projects was Sfr. 121,000 less than expected. Furthermore, the 5% reserve was not paid out in every case owing to the late submission of final reports. On the other hand, a total of Sfr. 80,000 was already paid out for two new projects. Operational expenditure for project supervision, information and administration totalled around Sfr. 151,000 and was thus Sfr. 12,000 under budget (Sfr. 163,000).

On the income side, the equal financial commitment of the federal authorities and Interpharma constitutes the basis for the Foundation's activities, each body donating a sum of Sfr. 403,000 to 3R.

Income totalled around Sfr. 812,000 (federal authorities and Interpharma together Sfr. 806,000, interest on bank account Sfr. 5,000, reimbursement of research grants Sfr. 1,000) while total expenditure amounted to Sfr. 821,000, which gives a negative balance of approximately Sfr. 9,000. The balance of unused research funds therefore fell from around Sfr. 651,000 at the end of 2002 to Fr. 642,000 at the end of 2003.

The budget for the year 2004 includes a sum of around Sfr. 783,000 for current projects and a maximum of Sfr. 530,000 for new projects.

Overview of grants awarded between 1987 and 2003

At the end of 2003 a total of Sfr. 12,754,609.80 had been granted for projects and other subsidies, of which a total of Sfr. 11,307,760.80 has been paid out so far. Together the federal authorities and Interpharma have contributed Sfr. 13,422,000 to the Foundation since 1987.

10-year overview

8. Financial statements

Profit and loss account 2003Expenditure Income
Federal contribution 403 000.00
Contribution from Interpharma 403 000.00
Total contributions 806 000.00
Interest on bank account 5 404.35
Research funds repaid 1 038.86
Total income 812 443.21

Research grants670 678.35
Various 3R activities0.00
Project supervision and information88 749.40
Administrative expenses62 159.70
Total expenditure821 587.45
Excess expenditure over income-9 144.24 
 812 443.21 
Balance as per 31st December 2003AssetsLiabilities
Liquid Assets
Bank 714 581.86
Accounts payable 1 891.50
Accounting apportionment assets 10 416.80

Accounting apportionment liabilities  83 498.75
Unused project funds
  Carried forward 1. 1. 2003651 535.65
  expend. over income-9 144.24642 391.41
Capital of the Foundation  1 000.00
726 890.16  726 890.16

Contingent liabilities
Approved research grants not yet paid out   Sfr. 1 446 849.00.

Münsingen, 29th April 2004

President: signed Dr. Hugo Wick
Secretary: signed E. Diener

8. Auditors' report to the Administrative Board

As 3R Research Foundation's auditors we have examined the books and the annual financial statements (balance sheet and profit and loss account) for the year ending 31st December 2003.

The Administrative Board is responsible for drawing up the financial statements while our task is to check and assess them. We hereby confirm that we are duly qualified to do this and that we have no vested interest in the Foundation.

We have checked the accounts and statements according to the generally accepted principles of accounting, by which this task must be planned and carried out in such a way that important errors in the financial statements are reasonably certain to be identified. We checked the entries and information in the statements in an analytical and investigative way using random samples. Furthermore, we assessed the implementation of standard accounting principles, the main evaluations and the presentation of the accounts as a whole. We are of the opinion that our examination provides a solid basis for our assessment of the accounts and statements of 3R.

In our opinion, the accounts have been kept and the financial statements have been drawn up according to the relevant laws and the statutes and regulations of the Foundation.

We therefore recommend that they be approved.

Gümligen, 24th March 2004
KPMG Fides Peat
signed Willy Beyeler, Cert. Auditor
signed Ursula Waber, Cert. Auditor