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R2N welcomes over 3000 visitors to the stand at the IdeenExpo.

At the IdeenExpo in Hannover, Germany, June 15-23, 2019, representatives of R2N (Replace and Reduce Animal Testing in Lower Saxony, spoke with over 3000 youths (10-18 years old) as well as with parents and teachers, presenting alternative methods to animal testing. The 7th IdeenExpo broke all previous records of attendance. With a focus on interactive experiments, the IdeenExpo aims to reach and teach the public, especially children and teenagers, about opportunities in MINT (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Sciences and Technology) professions.

The biennial IdeenExpo, now dubbed Europe's biggest youth event for science and technology, welcomed over 395,000 visitors this year to 110,000 [m.sup.2] expo area assigned to twelve themes: mobility arena, digital worlds, media lab, daily life, climate zone, production cosmos, mobility miles, life sciences area, energy field, agricultural food park, club future and mission: moon. The visitors were kept busy with over 700 workshops, 650 experiments, the RoboCup Junior championship, Science Slam final competition, live shows on stage and weekend concerts. Over 270 exhibitors, including state and federal government entities, companies, universities, vocational schools and research institutes, generously invested time and funds into this free-entry event to encourage and inspire young people.

R2N was at this year's IdeenExpo to inform youngsters that there are alternatives to animal testing and what these alternatives look like and can accomplish. R2N is a consortium that encompasses 15 research groups within 5 institutions in Lower Saxony: Hannover Medical School, Leibniz University, University of Gottingen, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover and TWINCORE. It aims to develop scientifically sound alternative methods to minimize the number of animals used in experiments or to fully replace existing animal experiments. The R2N stand was part of the Hannover Medical School's stand. After passing a gateway to a future where there is no longer a need for animal testing, the visitor was introduced to 3 possible alternative approaches: in vitro, in silico and body on a chip. The tour continued with four experiments, representing four of the 15 R2N projects: development of a complex 3D-tissue-biofilm model for analyzing oral and intestinal infections (slime-arium experiment), functional liver cells generated from reprogrammed pluripotent stem cells for use in toxicology (animated liver cell race), new analytical methods for safety assessment of gene therapy (gene taxi game), and in vitro/ ex vivo characterization of lung infections of humans and animals (lung puzzle).

Each visitor received a quiz card with 4 questions pertaining to a respective R2N project and could find the answer by playing a game. The project team leaders were on hand to explain more about their projects: Prof. Andre Bleich (Institute for Laboratory Animal Science and Central Animal Facility from the Hannover Medical School (MHH), Prof. Meike Stiesch (Clinic for Dental Prosthetics and Biomedical Materials, MHH), Prof. Tobias Cantz (Exzellenzcluster REBIRTH, Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, MHH), Prof. Axel Schambach and Dr Michael Rothe (both of the Institute for Experimental Hematology, MHH) and Prof. Maren von Kockritz-Blickwede (Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover). After all experiments were complete, the visitor was introduced to the R2N Professional Heroes: Bjorn, the biofilmer, Zelda, the cell generator, Galia, the gene navigator and Logan, the lung designer. After the 4 questions were answered correctly, the young future scientist turned in their quiz card and received a token for the machine where they would attempt to win a plush mouse by maneuvering an arm left and right to give the descending hand a chance to scoop up the mouse. Approximately 1,000 plush mice went home with youngsters throughout the IdeenExpo.

R2N was represented on the Career Stage by three people with very different profiles, showcasing the variability of positions involved in R2N projects. Pascal Hoffmann (Institute for Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover), a PhD student and R2N student representative, spoke on June 15 about what it is like to work in a laboratory and how animal testing is replaced by alternative methods. His PhD thesis is on the development of an in vitro model for the investigation of pathogenicity mechanisms of gut diseases caused by zoonotic pathogens. Professor Dr Nils Hoppe (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences, Leibniz University Hannover) spoke on June 21 about the ethical and legal ramifications of alternative methods to animal testing. And on June 23, Dr Katja Branitzki-Heinemann (Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover) spoke about the project she leads to generate lung tissue in a Petri dish and investigate bacterial infections in humans. A poetry slammer listened to the talks and at the end of the discussion, she weaved key words into lyrics for the young audience.

The next IdeenExpo will kickoff on July 10, 2021 and R2N looks forward to being there again with our professional heroes, experiments and alternative methods to animal testing on display.
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Title Annotation:Corners
Author:Smith, Bobbie; Bleich, Andre
Publication:ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jun 22, 2019
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Next Article:TEDD Annual Meeting 2019: Cell Sources and Stem Cell Generation for Drug Development.

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