Annual report 2004
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 2004
In its eighteenth year of existence the Administrative Board met twice, in April and December, for a half-day meeting. Apart from the statutory business concerning the end of the business year 2003, the Board addressed the following issues.
Research funds for 2004 were allotted to 11 projects already underway. In addition, 4 new projects were approved, while 20 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, in view of the increasing number of applications received for financial support for attending conferences, it was decided not to provide any direct funding. On the other hand, the Foundation is prepared to fund the work done by participants in a conference who present a project that is being financed by the Foundation. Furthermore, the Administrative Board was pleased to note that the 3R Training Course internet learning programme was fully up and running by the end of the year and is now available for further training for people who carry out or supervise animal experimentation.
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 in Basle to set up the 3R Training Course internet learning programme. 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. A new aspect of the scientific adviser's work has been his membership of the committee of ecopa (European Consensus Platform for 3R Alternatives) as the Foundation's representative; ecopa was set up in Brussels at the end of 2003. This organisation's activities are described on its website at http://ecopa.vub.ac.be. 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 the persistently high number of applications. In 2004, 24 applications were received involving a total amount of around Fr. 3.9 million. The continuing interest can also be seen from the origin of the applications: 15 from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, 4 from the French-speaking part and 4 from various other European countries. Four projects were approved, representing a total subsidy of Fr. 532,000. In many cases an application is rejected not because of poor scientific quality but because either the aims of the project bear little relation to the 3Rs or their relevance is not clearly demonstrated.
During the year 3 projects were completed (71/00, 75/00 and 79/01). 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, 45-55/96, 57-62/97, 64/97, 65/98, 66/99, 68-69/99, 72-74/00 and 76/01) this brings the total of finished projects to 73 out of 90.
3R Training Course
The Foundation has set up the 3R Training Course internet learning programme to offer individual, specialised further training for people who carry out or supervise animal experimentation. This course is available in German and English at http://3R-training.tierversuch.ch. Texts, images, links and documents provide visitors to the site with information on alternatives to animal experimentation.
The 3R training course has been recognised by the Association of Cantonal Veterinary Surgeons as a further training course within the meaning of the Federal Veterinary Office's ordinance of 12th October 1998 on the basic and further training of persons involved in animal experimentation (SR 455.171.2). In 2004 the programme was improved from a technical point of view in particular. It was only possible to complete the project under the supervision of the scientific adviser and in conjunction with Oekosophie GmbH in Basle thanks to the voluntary assistance and contributions from authors working in various areas of research. The Foundation would like to take this opportunity to thanks all those who helped to put the programme together.
In December Chantal Galladé, a member of the National Council, was elected to the Administrative Board, thus filling the vacancy following the resignation of Stephanie Baumann. Dr. Markus Schmutz announced that he would be leaving the Evaluation Committee at the end of September 2004, having been a member since 1995. Prof. Kurt Bürki, Director of the Institute of Laboratory Animal Science at the University of Zurich, was elected to replace Dr. Schmutz.
To date the following 3R Information Bulletins have been published in English:
7. Financial business
During 2004 around Fr. 724,000 was used for research grants. Project supervision and information accounted for around Fr. 124,000, including Fr. 31,000 for further work on the 3R internet learning programme and Fr. 2,000 for financial support given to project managers attending conferences; administrative expenses totalled Fr. 66,000. Total expenditure was consequently around Fr. 914,000. The amount spent on research for current projects (Fr. 604,000) was thus approximately Fr. 88,000 below budget (Fr. 692,000). This is mainly due to the fact that two projects required significantly less funding 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 Fr. 120,000 was already paid out for three new projects. Overall, contributions to research projects amounted to more or less the budgeted amount of Fr. 730,000. Operational expenditure for project supervision, information and administration totalled around Fr. 190,000 and was thus Fr. 24,000 under budget (Fr. 214,000). This difference can be accounted for by the fact that the further development of the 3R internet learning programme did not cost as much as expected. Administrative costs were within the budget of Fr. 68,000.
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 Fr. 423,000 to 3R.
Income totalled around Fr. 849,000 (federal authorities and Interpharma together Fr. 846,000, interest on bank account Fr. 3,000 while total expenditure amounted to Fr. 914,000, which gives a negative balance of approximately Fr. 65,000. The balance of unused research funds therefore fell from around Fr. 642,000 at the end of 2003 to Fr. 577,000 at the end of 2004.
The budget for 2005 includes a sum of around Fr. 695,000 for current projects and a maximum of Fr. 555,000 for new projects.
Overview of grants awarded between 1987 and 2004
At the end of 2004 a total of Fr. 13,261,993.30 had been granted for projects and other subsidies, of which a total of Fr. 12,065,724.85 has been paid out so far. Together the federal authorities and Interpharma have contributed Fr. 14,268,000 to the Foundation since 1987.
8. Financial statements
Münsingen, 19th April 2005
3R RESEARCH FOUNDATION
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 2004.
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, 12th April 2005