IC-3Rs • Innovation Centre for 3R Alternatives

A 3Rs-Innovation Centre at VUB

What is the Innovation Centre IC-3Rs?

The Innovation Centre IC-3Rs is a scientific platform at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) that promotes the implementation of the 3Rs (replace, reduce, refine) in scientific research by using state-of-the-art technology and new approach methodologies (NAMs).
IC-3Rs wants to advance human health and contribute to animal welfare.
The ultimate goal is to replace animal tests by alternative methods whenever scientifically sound. We support the use of alternative methods that are evidence-based. IC-3Rs aims to collaborate with scientists, public research institutes, industry, funding organisations, regulatory authorities and animal welfare bodies, including the Chair Mireille Aerens, the Brussels Region and Flanders Animal Welfare to increase the awareness about the 3R-principles, offer training and practical support in their application and develop new in vitro  methodologies as alternatives to animal testing.

The goals of the IC-3Rs

Focus of the IC-3Rs platform is specifically on the following objectives:

  1. Inform academia, industry and society about the importance of the 3R-principles through public lectures, social media and an easily accessible 3R-website;
  2. Work with regulatory authorities to implement 3Rs better into legislation and inform the public. A part of the IC-3Rs website is specifically dedicated to the Brussels Region;
  3. Further develop the knowledge base Re-Place which centralizes NAMs for which expertise exists in Belgium.
The IC-3Rs platform could be created thanks to Mireille Aerens and the Chair Mireille Aerens for the Development of Alternative methods

Coordination of the IC-3Rs platform


The IC-3Rs platform started in 2017 as an initiative of  Vera Rogiers, based on  her pioneering 3R-expertise of more than 30 years and financially supported by Mireille Aerens. IC-3Rs is hosted by the research group In Vitro Toxicology and Dermato-Cosmetology (IVTD) at the VUB, Medical Campus, headed by Tamara Vanhaecke (www.ivtd-fafy.be). The platform sets and delivers its strategy and the use of its resources based on a 3-year program, approved by the IC-3Rs Steering Committee. The actual Director is Vera Rogiers. An (inter)national Steering Committee defines the strategic objectives, formulates project deliverables, monitors their timely accomplishments, and ensures that financial planning and risk management are well-conducted.


Composition of IC-3Rs Steering Committee:

  • Prof. Vera Rogiers (VUB, Emeritus Professor Toxicology, Chair of IC-3Rs)
  • Prof.  Peter in ’t Veld (VUB, Pro-Dean)
  • Prof. Tamara Vanhaecke (VUB, Professor Toxicology, Head of IVTD)
  • Prof. Joery De Kock (VUB, Vice-chair Animal Welfare Body)
  • Dr. Stef Aerts (Odisee Hogeschool, BE)
  • Prof. Ellen Fritsche (University of Düsseldorf, DE)
  • Prof. José Castell (University of Valencia, ES)
  • Dr. Bernward Garthoff (Bio.NRW, CEO)


Administrative and financial oversight of IC-3Rs is managed by the VUB. The yearly budget of the Mireille Aerens chair is approved by VUB’s Innovation and Valorisation Council as is the yearly activity report.

Who is VUB-philanthropist Mireille Aerens?

The IC-3Rs platform builds on the research activities of the In Vitro Toxicology and Dermato-cosmetology (IVTD) group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). IVTD constitutes a hub for many promising R&D projects within a broad scientific scope. They all share one common goal, namely an improvement of human health and safety (http://www.ivtd-fafy.be/). A key activity of the department is Developing robust and human-relevant liver-based in vitro models to discriminate between safe and toxic drug candidates, and consequently reduce human exposure to liable products and safety-related drug attrition.  

Photo of Mireille Aerens
Logo of Chair Mireille Aerens • logo by I. Philips, Medusa arts

logo by I. Philips, Medusa arts

Brussels Environment

Mireille Aerens is a very friendly person with a warm heart, not only for humans, but also for animals. She decided to donate a part of her wealth to the VUB.  In 2015, she created the ‘Chair Mireille Aerens for the Development of Alternative Methods’ with Vera Rogiers (IVTD) as chairholder. As the dedicated founder of the chair, Mireille Aerens  closely followed up the 3R-research of young scientists. In 2017,  she helped  to launch the IC-3Rs platform at the VUB. 

Mireille sadly left us on 30 March 2020 on the age of 86. We lost a very dear and loyal friend, and will definitely continue her life’s work at the VUB. She made this possible in her last will, wherein she maintained her support for animal-free studies within the research group IVTD. Thanks to her personal engagement, the Mireille Aerens Chair and the IC-3Rs platform will continue and grow for many years to come. This beautiful gesture reflects her attitude to life. We will all remember her exceptional kindness and generosity.

The IC-3Rs platform could be created thanks to Mireille Aerens and the Chair Mireille Aerens for the Development of Alternative methods and the support of the Brussels Region