On November 6 2019, Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga, Professor of Evidence-Based Laboratory Animal Science at SYRCLE (Systematic Review Center for Laboratory (animal) Experimentation www.syrcle.nl) in the Netherlands, was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a civil and military Dutch order of chivalry open to “everyone who has earned special merits for society”. This honour, bestowed upon Professor Ritskes-Hoitinga following her inspirational inaugural lecture at the University (transcript here), comes after 30 years of improving the quality of animal research in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and dedicating herself to developing systematic review* methodology in the field of preclinical research.
Additionally, Professor Ritskes-Hoitinga worked closely with politicians and policy makers to table two Parliamentary motions with the Dutch government in 2012, with the result that systematic reviews are now compulsory in Laboratory Animal Science courses.
An International Pioneer-2-Policymaker Conference at the end of November (Nov 27th – 29th 2019) in Utrecht built on the efforts of the Dutch government, sharing pioneering practices and policies to improve human health and safety whilst making animal testing redundant.
Safer Medicines Trust supports the use of systematic reviews in preclinical research to objectively assess the quality and translatability of the methods currently used and to provide the opportunity for identifying, developing and validating in vitro and in silico alternative approaches to animal testing. We congratulate Professor Ritskes-Hoitinga on her award and warmly thank her for her ground breaking work in this field.
*Systematic reviews use systematic methods to identify, critically appraise and synthesise research data. This methodology has had an impact on ‘reduction’ (one of the 3Rs (along with refinement and replacement) of animal use) and is having a significant impact on the scientific quality and transparency of animal studies.