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August 25, 2011

Unilever Scientist Honored for Advancing Alternatives to Animal Testing

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States presented its 2011 Russell & Burch Award to Julia Fentem, Ph.D. of Unilever for her contributions to the advancement of alternative methods to the use of animals in testing. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to progress in the areas of testing, biomedical research and higher education.

The Russell and Burch Award was presented to Fentem at the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Montreal.

Fentem is the thirteenth scientist to receive the Russell and Burch Award since The Humane Society of the United States began offering this prestigious honor in 1991. The award is given to scientists for helping to advance alternative methods that accomplish one or more of the “Three Rs”: Replacing animals entirely with a non-animal method, Reducing the number of animals used in an experiment, and Refining methods so that animals experience less suffering. 

As Vice President of the Safety & Environmental Assurance Center at Unilever, Fentem is accountable for all safety risk assessments for the company’s products and processes. She has been instrumental in initiating Unilever’s ambitious scientific research program, based on integrating and applying new science and technology for human health risk-based decision making.

“Julia Fentem has been a leading figure in the alternatives community for the past 20 years,” according to Martin Stephens, Ph.D., The HSUS’ vice president for animal research issues. “She began pioneering a cell-based, human-oriented, ‘systems biology’ approach to safety assessment before the promise of such an approach became widely appreciated.”

Fentem started her career in 1991 as a Scientific Liaison Officer at the Fund for Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments, a non-governmental organization based in Nottingham, UK, before becoming the Toxicology Head of Section at the European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods, a European Union government agency, in 1994. She moved to Unilever in 1998 and served as an Expert Toxicologist and the Head of the Human Safety Department of SEAC before moving into her current role.

Fentem received a Ph.D. in Biochemical Toxicology from Nottingham University, an MSc in Toxicology from Birmingham University and a BSc in Biochemistry from Leeds University.

Recipients of the Russell & Burch Award receive a $5,000 prize and trophy.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—On the Web at humanesociety.org.

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.

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