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Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga on the Animal Free Labcast

Published on November 9, 2023

Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga on the Animal Free Labcast

Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga

Dr Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga with the Pioneer Award

Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga, Professor in Evidenced-Based Transition to Animal Free Innovations at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, joins me in the latest episode of the Animal Free Labcast.

Recipient of our prestigious Animal Free Research 2023 Pioneer Medal, Merel is internationally celebrated as a leading light in transition science, moving us closer to a world where animal-free research is the norm.

She shares her unique insights into the field and talks about the incredible work driving forward a brighter future in the Netherlands and beyond. You’ll also hear about her unique journey to animal replacement, and the evidence she’s gathered using systematic reviews which show that animal research doesn’t predict what happens in humans.

Merel tells us about her all-important collaboration with the social sciences to investigate how we can move people to change because, maybe surprisingly, it takes more than scientific evidence to spark evolutions in belief and behaviour.

And as you’d expect from the Animal Free Labcast, we’ll hear about her childhood dog Frida, her passion for making a difference for animals, and my beagle Herbie agreeing about the urgent need for a transition to animal free research!

Tune in and be part of the conversation as Merel discusses transitioning from traditional animal research to an evidence-based animal-free approach, overcoming challenges in translating research for patient benefit, and accelerating the shift towards a more ethical and effective future for drug development.


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Point of view

Animal Free Labcast - Animal Free Research UK's podcast

Our podcast

You won’t be surprised to hear that my personal passion is driving forward change which benefits both animals and humans. So I’m always fascinated talking with people like Merel who are also interested in how that can be accomplished.

Whilst the pace of technological change is speeding ahead with better alternatives being developed all the time, sadly the pace of social, legislative and regulatory change remains glacial. I believe that’s because it’s more complex. It involves systems changing – creating different relationships between all the parts of the global medical research system that currently considers animals its tools. And that involves people changing – mindset, values, attitudes, and behaviours. Developing new technologies is relatively simple in comparison!

Taking an interdisciplinary approach like Merel is doing, and combining the best of the sciences with the social sciences to understand how people and systems change, and what we can do to nudge them forward without creating unintended consequences, is the only route to achieving a world where human diseases are cured faster without animal suffering.

What you can do

Our task is huge, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Here are 3 quick things you can do right now to help make the change we want to see in the world:

  1. Join the conversation by listening to the Animal Free Labcast with my guest Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga – available on our website, SpotifyApple or wherever you get your podcasts.
  2. Raise the profile of the issue by asking your MP to champion the transition to animal-free innovations in Parliament via a Private Members’ Bill. We’ve done the hard work for you – just click here to fill in your details and send.Make a donation
  3. , if you can, to support the transition to animal-free research

Carla Owen, Animal Free Research UK CEO & host of the Animal Free Labcast

With heartfelt thanks,





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