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Summer Student 2021: Imogen Carmichael

Summer Student 2021: Imogen Carmichael

Developing a new cell-based model to study dementia.

Supervisor name and institution: Dr Patricia Ragazzon, Keele University

Project summary:

Many dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease appear to be affected by a variety of internal and external facts including genetics, sex, diet, and the environment. A great amount of research on Alzheimer’s disease has been performed on many animals including mice, rats and monkeys.

In this project, Imogen will test if an animal-free media can be used to grow and differentiate a cellular model of dementia. This cell line has been obtained from a human nerve tissue cancer. Working with cell lines also helps us to have less variables in the experiments. The nerve cells will be fed a commercial animal-free food solution called BrainPhys. To form the range of different types of cells found in the brain, they will be treated with retinoic acid, which makes them to change their characteristics.

This human relevant model can be used for several dementia studies without the need to use animal derived ingredients. Additionally, this will allow patient-specific research using human cell systems.

Animals project will replace: Cows

Watch Imogen’s Summer School presentation…


Get to know Imogen…

Why do you want to participate in animal replacement summer studentship?

Having always been brought up around animals, as a child we kept chickens, a duck, several guinea pigs and rabbits and currently two cats – I know the benefits of having animals around can have on people’s emotional wellbeing and it saddens me knowing that there are some animals that never truly get to live the right life filled with freedom and love due to being in laboratories. By successfully removing the use of animals in research, we will be able to provide them with a life that they deserve without cruelty or harm.

During my studies I have learned that it isn’t possible to properly trace parallels between animal test results and those of the test results when products go to human trials, therefore I hope that by being a part of this Summer Studentship programme I am able to learn more about the process of producing animal free cells which will enable me to further my understanding of how to change the way the pharmaceutical industry considers the use of animals altogether.

How will the Summer Student Programme help to kick-start your career as an animal free researcher?

During my studies from college to my current year of degree study, I have been interested in how the pharmaceutical industry can continue to improve and reduce waste and their environmental impact. One way to reduce the environmental impact the pharmaceutical industry has is by ending animal testing that is carried out during the trial phases.

I am interested in helping to remove the need for animals to be used in the pharmaceutical industry.

During the Summer Student Programme, I hope to gain more knowledge into laboratory practices, expand my abilities to understand how the future of pharmaceutical science can progress without the use of animals, and increase my hands-on experience in a true laboratory setting, of which one day I hope to continue my career in.

What are your future plans and career aspirations?

I aim to one day carry on my education in the form of a master’s degree in pharmaceutical science. I’m hoping that by completing this Summer Student Programme I will gain an idea of exactly what area I would like to and this opportunity may even potentially shape the research project I do in my third year of undergraduate study.

In the future I am aiming to work in improving the pharmaceutical industry’s ethical and environmental impacts. I hope to work towards replacing the use of animals in research and provide alternative ways of testing products that are completely animal free. By being a part of this programme, I feel that I will already have a greater understanding of how to improve the pharmaceutical industry and thereby set me apart for other candidates in future job opportunities.


You can take action for animals, by uniting with us now!

Many human relevant approaches have been introduced into the scientific world, but unfortunately, the use of animals in medical research is entrenched and institutionalised, with many researchers still viewing animal experiments as the gold standard. This is our time to make change happen. Our work is funded entirely by your generous support, so please make a donation today to help us free animals from laboratories for good.

Support the next generation of scientists who are innovating the future of research, and join us in building a brighter future for humans and for the animals.


Page last modified on December 15, 2021 3:50 pm