News items Radboud Science Awards 2022: animal imagination, HIV treatment in children and improved animal testing

5 July 2022

Every year three researchers of the Radboud University and the Radboudumc receive a Radboud Science Award. The winners will design teaching materials about their research for primary schools. This year’s winners are Annabelle Dufourcq for her research on imaginative animals, David Burger and Angela Colbers for their research on HIV treatment for children, and Lisa Genzel for her research on improved methodology and conditions in animal testing.

There will be a festive award ceremony on Wednesday, September 28th, in which rector magnificus Han van Krieken will give out the awards. The winners will present their research in a short lecture for an audience of primary school children.

During the upcoming year the winners will design active classroom activities about their research in collaboration with four primary schools in Arnhem and Nijmegen and the Science Hub Radboud University. These activities will be digitally available for teachers and are published in a book in January, 2024.

Imagination in animals

Annabelle Dufourcq is an associate professor in metaphysics and philosophical anthropology at the faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. She is also the coordinator of the Center for Contemporary European Philosophy. Her research focuses on the phenomenology of the imagination, specifically the imagination in animals. Phenomenology is the investigation of the way an individual experiences events and its environment. The findings of Dufourcq show that animals possess the ability to fantasize, a trait that is highly underrated. By presenting animals as imaginative subjects gifted with their own perspective, initiative and inventivity, Dufourcq brings about a paradigmshift .

HIV treatment for children

Professor clinical pharmacy David Burger and his colleague Angela Colbers from the department of Pharmacy of the Radboudumc successfully adapted the dosing regimen of the HIV medicine dolutegravir for safe treatment in infants and children. This antiretroviral medicine is the preferred treatment for adult HIV infected patients in low-income populations, but a safe and effective treatment for children has been lacking. Their research established a new dosing strategy, and a soluble pill for infants from the age of four weeks and older. Upon publication of these findings The World Health Organization (WHO) adapted its treatment guidelines.

Improving animal testing

Research on memory and sleep include simple and fast tasks during conventional animal experiments in rodents. However, these tasks usually ignore experience and traits gained by the animals in previous experiments. Associate professor at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour Lisa Genzel and her colleagues developed new methods in animal testing to investigate the complex tasks our brain is able to perform. Her findings show that animal models are indispensable to unravel how neural networks and factors such as sleep determine our cognition and behavior. Furthermore, Genzel is at the forefront of methodologically improving animal welfare during handling, housing, and surgical procedures.

The Radboud Science Awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, September 28 (start: 10.00 a.m.) at the Radboud University auditorium. Click here for more information and registration.

Source: Radboud University

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