Germany: Symposium and Workshop: Replacing Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) in Research & Testing.

Symposium and Workshop: Replacing Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) in Research & Testing

21 September 2020

Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is used as an additive for cell and tissue culture media in biomedical research and testing to enhance cell growth.

However, there is massive underlying animal suffering in FBS production: To obtain the serum blood of unborn calves is collected by syringe from the beating heart of fetal calves without anaesthesia, even though there are clear indications that calf fetuses are already capable of suffering. In addition to the ethical dilemma, scientific reasons speak against the use of FBS as well: The exact composition of the serum is unknown and there is the risk of contaminations from pathogens potentially present in animal sera. This can compromise cell cultures performance and subsequent experiments.

Thus, switching to FBS-free medium is both an ethical and a scientific necessity. Alternatives to FBS exist and are already used in many cell cultures. Our symposium at the TranslaTUM in Munich aims to draw the attention on this topic and to increase the acceptance of alternative media already existing. Our subsequent satellite workshop at the Academy for Animal Welfare in Neubiberg will present techniques how cells can be easily switched to FBS-free media.

Symposium on November 3rd, 2020:

International experts from universities, industry, regulatory authorities and animal welfare will discuss the current status on the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) and present ethical and scientific advantages of FBS-free alternatives. Lectures and discussions will be held in English. The one-day symposium takes place in the large auditorium at the TranslaTUM in Munich. Due to social distancing regulations to restrain the COVID-19 pandemic, participation is currently limited to 50 – 100 participants. Target Group Symposium: Undergraduate, graduate and PhD students in the fields of biology, medicine, veterinary medicine and related fields of study, post-docs, working group leaders.

Speakers Symposium:

  • Dr. Jan van der Valk (3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences)
  • Dr. Karen Bieback (Heidelberg University; German Red Cross Blood Service BadenWürttemberg – Hessen gGmbH)
  • Dr. Aline Chary (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology)
  • Dr. Sandra Coecke (Joint Research Centre of the European Commission)
  • Dr. Joachim Wiest (cellasys GmbH) · Tilo Weber (Animal Welfare Academy; Office for Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Research, Testing and Education)

Location Symposium: TranslaTUM Großes Auditorium Einsteinstr. 25 81675 Munich, Germany
Date: November 3rd, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. (registration from 8:00 a.m.) to approx. 5:00 p.m.

Workshop on November 4th, 2020:

In the practical section of the satellite workshop, the suitability of serum-free medium for cell cultures will be demonstrated by Dr. Joachim Wiest (cellasys GmbH). Participants will be trained how to perform a switch of cells from serum-containing to serum-free medium using the cellasys #8 protocol. The suitability and the possible effects on the cells will be assessed based on the results of the demonstration.

The theoretical section of the workshop consists of lectures on the scientific risks of FBS and the availability of alternative media (Dr. Jan van der Valk, 3Rs-Center Utrecht Life Sciences) and information on further laboratory reagents of animal origin, such as polyclonal antibodies, gelatine, collagen, trypsin, Matrigel etc. (Tilo Weber, Academy for Animal Welfare). Lectures and demonstrations will be held in English.

The one-day satellite workshop will take place at the cell culture lab of the Academy for Animal Welfare (Akademie für Tierschutz) in Neubiberg. The workshop is limited to 10 participants. Meals are included. For workshop participants that are not resident in Munich or the vicinity, accommodation is included as well. Participation at the Symposium is required. Target Group Workshop: MTA, BTA, PhD students, post-docs.

Location Workshop: Akademie für Tierschutz (Academy for Animal Welfare) Cell Culture Lab Spechtstr. 1 85579 Neubiberg, Germany
Date: November 4 th, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to approx. 5:00 p.m.

Read more with details at

Regards Mark

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