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.
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.
So far the following 3R Information Bulletins have been published in English:
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.
8. Financial statements
Münsingen, 29th April 2004
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 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