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Barbara Cartwright, Charu ChandrasekeraHumane Canada CEO Barbara Cartwright conferred the Women for a Humane Canada award on Charu Chandrasekera, at the federation’s annual animal welfare conference Sunday in Montreal.

Researcher wins recognition for promoting animal welfare

UWindsor researcher Charu Chandrasekera received a national award from Humane Canada for her efforts in promoting scientific methods that don’t use animals as test subjects.

Dr. Chandrasekera, founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods, said she was honoured to receive the Women for a Humane Canada award from the national federation of humane societies and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Chandrasekera received the award at Humane Canada’s annual national animal welfare conference held this past weekend in Montreal.

“We are exploiting animals at an unprecedented rate,” Chandrasekera said in her acceptance speech. As a medical researcher who used to use animals in her work, she said we need to shift toward a human biology-based paradigm since most of the drugs tested on animals fail in human clinical trials.

She said she encourages researchers to “think outside the cage.”

Her research centre, funded through a $1 million donation by the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation, is the first and only centre of its kind in Canada dedicated exclusively to the development, validation, and promotion of animal-free methods to research human disease and predict human drug safety and risks posed by chemicals.

“My centre went from being a thought in my head to an internationally-recognized centre in less than two years,” said Chandrasekera. “Where there is a will, there is always a way.”

Chandrasekera spoke of her research at Humane Canada’s annual conference last year, where Laureen Harper, wife of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and active supporter of animal-rights organizations, received the inaugural Women for a Humane Canada award.

“Women for Humane Canada is a cross-Canada giving circle of women who believe in the power of making meaningful change happen for animals,” said Barbara Cartwright, CEO of Humane Canada.

“This award was created to recognize those who show significant leadership in elevating animal welfare in Canada, and Dr. Chandrasekera is an amazing example of the exciting new possibilities in testing that will not involve animals.”

─ Sarah Sacheli

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