Curriculum vitae

Merel (Jelméra) Ritskes-Hoitinga




Titles: DVM, PhD, Animal Welfare Officer, Dipl ECLAM

Current position: Professor in Laboratory Animal Science and

Managing Director Central Animal Laboratory (CDL), Radboud University Medical Center




ACHIEVEMENTS HIGHLIGHTS past 5 years – Systematic Reviews of animal studies

A conference "Laboratory Animal Science 2.0" was organised 15 October 2015, to mark the occasion of the Central Animal Laboratory Facility’s foundation at the Radboudumc 60 years ago. The focus was on the past, present and future role of animal studies in science and health care. The first e-learning module in the field of systematic reviews of animal studies was launched and is freely available from the SYRCLE website (www.SYRCLE.nl). A global ambassador network, dedicated to promoting and developing education in systematic reviews of animal studies, has been founded.



SYRCLE ambassador network



Subsidies to SYRCLE by the Dutch health funding organisation ZonMW have made it possible to organise national workshops and provide coaching to researchers who want to execute systematic reviews of animal studies. Six successful workshops with in total 120 participants were organised, and over 30 participants have actually started performing a systematic review under the guidance of SYRCLE scientists. A substantial number of systematic reviews have already been written. This way, valuable translational information is made transparent through using this multidisciplinary methodology (see publications).


Subsidies by the Ministry of Economic Affairs were acquired in order to develop tools and guidelines for the effective and reliable execution of systematic reviews of animal studies. The first e-learning module in systematic reviews of animal studies was launched in 2015. In 2012 and 2014 two motions were accepted in the Dutch Parliament concerning systematic reviews of animal studies. New connections with international networks such as the CAMARADES, GRADE and Cochrane Collaboration have been firmly established.



July 2013 an important publication appeared in PloSMedicine, acknowledging the value of Systematic Reviews of animal studies towards more evidence-based translational medicine: Hooijmans CR, Ritskes-Hoitinga M (2013) Progress in Using Systematic Reviews of Animal Studies to Improve Translational Research. PLoS Med 10(7): e1001482.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001482 http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001482

With a great thanks to valuable input from Sir Iain Chalmers (James Lindh Library)

and Susan Green (SABRE UK) to the PloSMed paper.


At the Cochrane Colloquiem in Quebec a succesful workshop and special meeting dedicated to Systematic Reviews of animal studies was organised by SYRCLE (www.SYRCLE.nl). A Cochrane animal study methods group is to be established.


Special meeting Quebec Sept. 2013


February 2012 the first international symposium and workshop on Systematic Reviews of animal studies was organised by SYRCLE (www.SYRCLE.nl). Key note speaker Prof. Malcolm Macleod from the CAMARADES collaboration. All video presentations are available online. A minisymposium on this topic was organised in August 2012. All ppt presentations can be found online.


10 February 2012 practical workshop


Valkhof Chair

Prof. Dr. Kay Dickersin, Head of the US Cochrane, was awarded the Valkhof Chair. SYRCLE was the main applicant for the Valkhof Chair. Kay made a very successful and fruitful visit to the Radboud University Medical Center in June 2013.


Founded the 3R Research Center (3RRC) at the Radboud University Medical Center in December 2006: http://www.umcn.nl/3RRC

The aim was to provide service and support for the improved search and implementation of Refinement, Reduction and Replacement (3R “alternatives”) of animal studies. In 2009 the focus has shifted towards the execution of Systematic Reviews, as the execution of Systematic Reviews leads to better patient safety, higher quality of science and the implementation of the 3Rs simultaneously. For this work on Systematic Reviews, two prices were obtained in 2011: by the Dutch Animal Protection Association awarded ‘De Lef in het Lab prijs’, and the Swiss Laboratory Animal Science Association SGV awarded a price for the article “The Gold Standard Publication Checklist” (published in ATLA 2011 http://www.umcn.nl/Research/Departments/cdl/Documents/Hoojimans%20FINAL.pdf ).



Lef in het Lab prijs, Dierenbescherming, 3 October 2011


The name of the 3RRC was changed into SYRCLE (Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory animal Experimentation) in February 2012. The work on Systematic Reviews of animal studies started in 2008.





Through animal experimentation great improvements have been achieved in human and veterinary medicine. At the same time it is an ethical dilemma to use animals for research purposes. Animal experiments must only be performed when considered absolutely necessary and in the most optimal way. Systematic Reviews offer a step-by-step approach that has been developed in medicine over the past 20 years. This approach should also be incorporated in laboratory animal science to safeguard optimal scientific quality, patient safety and the implementation of the 3Rs.



2006 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center – Does a rat have Boeddha nature?

http://dare.ubn.kun.nl/handle/2066/27416 (in Dutch)









1997 University of Southern Denmark – Animals and models: who cares? http://www.sdu.dk/~/media/files/om_sdu/fakulteterne/sundhedsvidenskab/professor_seminar/healthsci1%20pdf.ashx (p.37-47).




By implementing the Zen principle – to act as consciously as possible - I constantly try to improve the quality of my life and my work. Since April 2010 also as a zen meditation teacher (www.zen.nl). May 2009 the working group WESP (Wetenschap en Spiritualiteit in de Praktijk) was initiated, see http://www.zen.nl/malden/zen-en-wetenschap/. In these meetings in-depth discussions are held on the topic “science meets religion”.



Your work is to discover your work

And then with all your heart

To give yourself to it





231 Centraal Dierenlaboratorium (CDL)

Radboud University Medical Center

PO Box 9101

NL-6500 HB Nijmegen

The Netherlands

Tel. +31(0)24 36 13 500

Fax +31(0)24 36 16 375

Email Merel.Ritskes-Hoitinga@Radboudumc.nl

Website http://www.radboudumc.nl/cdl