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After five years, biologist gets permission for animal test

A young jackdaw being measured. Photo by Reyer Boxem

After five years, biologist gets permission for animal test

UG biologist Simon Verhulst has won his case against the Central Committee on Animal Testing. On Tuesday, he finally received the permit the CCD had been refusing him for years.
7 April om 11:46 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 April 2021
om 11:46 uur.
April 7 at 11:46 AM.
Last modified on April 7, 2021
at 11:46 AM.

Door Christien Boomsma

7 April om 11:46 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 April 2021
om 11:46 uur.

By Christien Boomsma

April 7 at 11:46 AM.
Last modified on April 7, 2021
at 11:46 AM.

Christien Boomsma

Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
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Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
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He wasn’t sure he would win, says Verhulst. When he was first denied, he felt this was more a case of principles that wasn’t based on any real arguments. ‘I thought they were just looking for excuses. I wasn’t convinced, and neither was the judge.’

Five years ago, Verhulst submitted his application for an experiment involving sixty wild jackdaws. He wants to inject the animals with the IGF-1 growth hormone and see if the increased growth rate negatively affects the birds’ health. He would check this by measuring their telomeres, which are a kind of protective cap on the end of chromosomes. These telomeres get shorter as you age. 

The CCD rejected his application, because they felt the research should be done in a laboratory and not on wild animals. 

Simulate

However, Verhulst says the circumstances cannot be simulated in a lab setting. Because the CCD’s rejection was putting an end to an entire study into ageing, Verhulst took them to court. It was a matter of principles for him, too. ‘Perhaps they realised we were ready to take it all the way to the Council of State’, he says.

He’s happy with the outcome. The fact that he now has his permit does not mean he can immediately resume his research, though. The post-doctoral student who was going to do it has left for Estonia. ‘He was here for three years, but it wasn’t enough time to get the permit.’

Verhulst hopes he’ll still be able to do the research. ‘Perhaps we could do some of it in Estonia and some of it here. We’re working on figuring it out.’

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