The winners for the 2020 Lush Prize have been announced!
Founded in 2012, the Lush Prize is a unique collaboration between Lush Cosmetics and Ethical Consumer Research Association with the aim to stop the entrenched nature of animal testing across many different fields of research. This prize grants a £250,000 to fund scientists, campaigners, young researchers and a series of joined initiatives across five categories. The aim? To end animal use in experiments around the world.
And the winners are… (drumroll, please)
The Lobbying Prize is open to individuals, groups or organizations pushing for change by focusing on policy interventions promoting the use of ethical alternatives to animal testing.
Wu Hung—Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST)
In 2018, the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) began working to challenge the huge numbers of animals used in toxicity testing for Taiwan's Chemical Substances Registration System.
As the regulations gave no priority to non-animal testing methods, most registrants opt to use traditional animal testing practices. And for skin sensitization tests, animal tests were mandatory despite at least two alternative methods already being accepted by the OECD.
With the help of legislator Shu-Fen Lin, EAST arranged a meeting with the EPA, the authority in charge of Taiwan's chemical registration system. The result was a huge win.
The EPA now requires registrants to prioritize non-animal testing methods and to avoid unnecessary animal testing. Test methods for each toxicity item will be disclosed on the registration website immediately to avoid duplicate animal testing. And a discounted registration fee will be given to chemical registration using non-animal data.
Category: Public Awareness
The Public Awareness Prize is open to individuals or organizations raising public awareness of ongoing animal testing.
Friedrich Mülln—SOKO Tierschutz
In 2019, SOKO Tierschutz, working with Cruelty-Free International , released the findings of its undercover investigation at the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology (LPT) in Mienenbüttel, Germany.
LPT is a contract-testing lab carrying out toxicity testing for pharmaceutical, industrial and agrochemical companies from all over the world in order to meet the requirements of governments and regulatory authorities. Following SOKO's expose, the lab was raided by police and their license was revoked for animal experiments. It was also forced to hand over all animals remaining at the lab to appropriate third parties.
This is the second time that SOKO has won a Lush Prize. The first was in 2015, following its undercover investigation at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany.
The Science Prize is open to individuals, research teams or institutions which work leads for practical non-animal tests that could be accepted by regulators.
Dr. Timothy Allen—MIE Atlas Team
The MIE Atlas Team, headed by Dr. Allen, collaborates between the University of Cambridge and Unilever's Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre.
Since 2013, they’ve been building computational models based on chemistry to predict human Molecular Initiating Events (MIEs). These models predict in-silico how chemicals can have effects that may lead to Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs).
The AOP framework for risk assessment has been constructed to combine in-silico and in-vitro approaches to safety decision-making, based on understanding the effects chemicals have on biological systems. This is in stark contrast to traditional animal methods based on high chemical exposures and observation of late-stage adverse outcomes.
The Training Prize is open to individuals, teams or organizations involved in training others in non-animal methods. We seek nominations from those working on replacing, rather than reducing or refining, animal experiments.
Dr. Sue Gibbs - Helpathon Team
Helpathon accelerates human-relevant research by helping scientists find non-animal methods in their studies.
The Helpathon team realized that many scientists who currently use animals were unaware of the vast amount of replacement methods already present or under development in the Netherlands.
They organize an extensive brainstorming session over an informal two-day workshop with people from different scientific disciplines and non-scientists—including financiers, the general public and patient organizations. Together, they reform the project so that the same questions are answered and the same goals can be reached, but now with non-animal methods.
The Helpathon team continues to make the reformed project happen with the help of collaboration networks and financiers. This way, they don't just replace animal use for one project but also set the scientist on a new career track for continuing research without animals.
Category: Young Researchers
The Young Researcher Prize is open to young scientists (up to 35 years of age at the time of application) with a desire to fund the next stage of their career and focus on an animal test-free future.
Domenico Gadaleta—Computational Toxicology Unit - Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology/Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, IRCCS
Every day, people are exposed to a large number of chemicals that have the potential to cause long-term adverse health effects on the brain. Dr. Domenico Gadaleta, of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Italy, is developing a computational platform for early detection of chemicals' neurotoxicity.
Artificial intelligence-based methods will be applied to derive Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship computational models. QSARs will be used to predict Molecular Initiating Events (MIEs) upstream of the biological adverse outcome pathways responsible for the onset of neurotoxicity.
Based on the degree of activation of MIEs, the potential neurotoxicity of chemicals will be defined. These computational platforms will be beneficial for large-scale screening and for early hierarchization of chemicals.
Edoardo Carnesecchi—Utrecht University's Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS)
Edoardo (IRAS) is working on an innovative software platform to assess toxicity and exposure of chemical mixtures.
Humans and ecosystems are continuously exposed to a complex mixture of chemicals, which are vast and originate from different sources such as food, environment, medicine or consumer products. This project will create a free in-silico platform to quantitatively measure the effects of chemicals on human health and the environment.
This platform will predict human health-related effects, whether beneficial or adverse, of chemical mixtures. Within a One Health approach, the project aims to reduce the impact of chemicals through safer use and the identification of safer chemicals, providing a robust and reliable alternative method to animal testing.
Johanna Nyffeler—US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Nyffeler is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Environmental Protection Agency working on non-animal research into developmental neurotoxicants.
10 to 15 percent of children are affected by neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet, very few chemicals present in the environment have been tested for their potential to cause developmental neurotoxicity (DNT).
DNT research still relies heavily on animal research, with over 1,000 animals per study. Dr. Nyffeler's project uses a novel application of a chemical screening method known as high-throughput phenotypic profiling (HTPP) to human neural progenitor cells. She will screen a library of 1,280 pharmacologically active chemicals to establish a phenotypic profile database that can be used to characterize mechanisms of toxicity of known and unknown DNT chemicals. This would aid in the development of animal-free new approach methodologies for hazard identification of developmental neurotoxicants.
Nadine Dreser—University of Konstanz
Nadine at the University of Konstanz is investigating the early stages of nervous system formation in the developing embryo and its response to drugs, known as Developmental Neurotoxicity or DNT.
The test, known as Stop-Tox, involves stem cells being treated with test compounds and checking for toxic effects on cell growth and development, combined with computer algorithms, to accurately measure the level of toxicity. This successful test is further refined by using the flow of genetic information to provide high throughput and a cost-effective system to predict DNT as early as possible.
The system is being developed with the aim of approval as part of a successful, human-relevant battery of tests to aid research into diseases including spina bifida and replace the very high numbers of animals currently used in generational tests for DNT.
Yuan Pang—Tsinghua University
Pang and colleagues at Tsinghua University , China work on constructing advanced in-vitro tissue models based on 3D bioprinting and their application in drug discovery and toxicity testing.
Their results so far have included a series of studies using the 3D bio-printed cell and tissue models and organ-on-a-chip for high-throughput drug screening and chemical-induced toxicity analysis. The team is now focusing on advanced experimental models for the liver, lung alveolus, pancreatic islet and personalized cancer models. Their use with multi-scale numerical simulation for animal-free drug and chemical efficacy predictions is also studied.
While non-animal research in China still has a long way to go, Dr. Pang sees it as her responsibility to help develop, promote and implement research supporting a future free of animal testing.
Category: Andrew Tyler Award
In 2017 Lush Prize introduced a new award for outstanding contribution towards ending animal testing. This non-financial prize is named after Andrew Tyler, former director of Animal Aid and a founding Lush Prize judge.
This year's winner, Andrew, is the former president and CEO of Humane Society International and Chief Scientific Officer for the Humane Society of the United States. He has been advocating for alternatives to animal testing since his time with FRAME in 1976 and later founded the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy—where he remains an adjunct professor to this day.
Rowan has authored or co-authored numerous books and over 100 academic papers on animal research and alternatives on companion animal, humane wildlife management and human-animal interactions.
In both his academic and corporate leadership roles, Andrew has helped inspire, nurture and support a generation of animal advocates. Today, he is President and Chief Program Officer of WellBeing International. This charity seeks to achieve optimal well-being for people, animals and the environment through collaborative engagement, education, direct care and science.
Want to learn more about the Lush Prize, the winners and how to apply for next year’s prizes? Visit lushprize.org.