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The Alternatives in Research (AiR) Challenge is a program intended to stimulate innovative research that advances medical progress through the use of methods that do not involve animals.

The program focus is on biomedical research, given that animal use in this area far exceeds that in safety testing and scientific education.

It is anticipated that the winning projects will be those involving new or modified disease models, new applications of existing models, or new or modified techniques (as in monoclonal antibody production). Prize winners will be chosen with the aid of a scientific advisory committee.

The competitions are open to researchers in any job sectors (e.g., industry [small business], academia, and government) in the U.S. (only).

The AiR Challenge Grants will be $20,000 each, intended to provide seed funding for promising avenues of research. Pre-proposals (consisting of Application form, Abstract -- up to 200 words, and Curriculum Vitae / Biosketch of Principle Investigator), were accepted until October 5, 2017. Up to five grants will be awarded in February, 2018.

In a later phase, launching in 2018, an AiR Challenge Prize of up to $350,000 will be awarded to a single recipient who presents a research plan, including prior results, most likely to have an impact both on a biomedical research field and on reducing animal use.

The AiR Challenge program is intended not only as a means of rewarding scientists, advancing biomedical progress, and sparing animals from suffering. It is also intended to help dispel the outdated notion that an interest in medical progress and a concern for animals are inexorably in opposition; indeed, finding better non-animal approaches to researching human disease is a win-win for humans and animals. The ARDF is also seeking to broaden the understanding and appreciation for alternative methods not only among scientists, but also among the general public, thought-leaders, media representatives, and patients and patient-advocates.


Maximum award per project:  $20,000

Open date for Pre-Proposals: September 1, 2017
Deadline for Pre-Proposals: October 5, 2017

Notice of invitation to submit Full Proposal: October 16, 2017
Deadline for Full Proposal: December 15, 2017

Notification of Winners: February 15, 2018
Project start date (unless otherwise noted): March 1, 2018
One to two years allowed for completion of projects.


U.S. institutions only, including academia, government, and small businesses qualified for the    U.S. federal government SBIR/STTR programs.
May not use intact, non-human vertebrate or invertebrate animals.
Biomedical research projects only.


Scientific merit and feasibility / potential impact in an area of biomedical research
Replaces or reduces the use of laboratory animals / potential impact on animal use