A Moral, Animal-Free Research

Our ESR Andrew J. Barnhart, PhD candidate at the Interfaculty Center for Biomedical Ethics and Law at KU Leuven, is currently doing his research on the ethics of organoids within OrganoVIR. His research explores the ethical and social challenges of certain organoids (e.g. brain organoids, organoids that model embryos) and the implications of these challenges on policymaking.

As part of his doctoral training, Andrew did a secondment with partner DsRAT: the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing to study ethical perspectives on organoids, communication, and innovative transition studies.

Recently, Andrew was featured on “Drijfveren”, a segment on DsRAT’s website where scientists who work with or research animal-free models share what motivates them to go against the current. In his blog, Andrew expressed that organoids (also known as mini organs made from human stem cells) can and should replace animal testing. However, Andrew also addressed the ethical issues that comes with providing new alternatives. While the moral objections to animal testing are quite straightforward, the morality of the usage of organoids in research is not that simple. “A deep understanding of organoids is needed to develop a suitable code of conduct. Because what if brain organoids can develop a possible consciousness?”

You can read Andrew’s full blog post ‘Morally Using Animal-Free Research’ here: