IC-3Rs • Innovation Centre for 3R Alternatives

3Rs Explained

What are the 3Rs?

The 3Rs are a guiding principle to foster ethical use of animals in scientific and educational experiments. The 3Rs stand for:


This is done when using an alternative method which either avoids or replaces the use of animals in experiments. For example, the use human-cells and tissue cultures or computer modelling.           


This is done when using methods which result in a smaller number of animals or  that provide more information from the same number of animals. For example, the use of statistical methods to accurately calculate the number of animals  that is needed for a study.


This is done when it can be shown that animal use cannot be avoided. The welfare of the animals is priority and should be improved while the amount of stress, pain and suffering inflicted should be minimized. For example, by respecting the natural day/night cycle of the animal.

What are alternative methods?

These are methods or their combinations that can be used to replace or reduce the total number of animals used in a scientific study. Alternative methods include (but are not limited to):

  • In vitro  methods which are testing methods performed in a controlled environment like for example cells or tissue cultures;
  • In silico  methods which are prediction models or simulations run on a computer;
  • In chemico  methods like for example assays to evaluate the properties of chemical substances
  • Experiments with invertebrates (e.g. fruit flies and flatworms).


3Rs Research

Young researchers are given the possibility to do a doctoral thesis with focus on the replacement and reduction of experimental animals. Topics of research are situated in the Life Sciences (fundamental & applied research) and in the broad field of toxicology of which regulatory toxicology is a part.

Young researchers with Running doctoral theses

Completed doctoral theses
Running doctoral theses

Anouck Thienpont

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences - Master of Science in Drug Development 2018 Magna cum laude • Pharmaceutical Sciences - Master of Pharmaceutical Care 2019
  • Passion for the skin and dermato-cosmetic products
Research Output

Alexandra Gatzios

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences - Master of Science in Drug Development 2020 Magna cum laude
  • Fellow strategic basic research at FWO
  • Likes to use creative approaches to answer scientific questions
Research Output

Young researchers with Completed doctoral theses

Joost Boeckmans

Research Output
  • Bi-annual PhD-thesis award of the Belgian Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) 2020-2021
  • Best Poster prize at the “BelTox/IC-3Rs/INVITROM Joint Symposium” 2019 [Brussels, Belgium]
  • Best poster prize at the “Global NASH Congress” 2019 [London, United Kingdom]

Alessandra Natale

Research Output
  • Technological advancements for the development of stem cell- based models for hepatotoxicity testing. Archives of Toxicology, 2019 (review article, 1st author)
  • Hepatic cells derived from human skin progenitors show a typical phospholipidotic response upon exposure to amiodarone. Toxicology Letters, 2018 (review article, 1st author)