Elin Törnqvist

Affiliated to research

About me

I am a specialist at the Institute of Environment Medicine, Department of Integrative Toxicology where I do research/communication projects and teaching. My engagement is within the field of the 3Rs (Replace, Reduce, Refine). The principles of the 3Rs means replacing animal models in research with non-animal based methods, as well as improving animal models with fewer animals and increased animal welfare. Since 2017 I am a member of the Swedish 3Rs center’s steering board and the National Committee for the protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes.


I have a background as a veterinarian, with many years of experience in animal welfare and legislation from different sectors and especially when it comes to ethical use of animals for scientific purposes. My research carrier started in the field of immunology at the Swedish University of Agriculture followed by a post doc at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control. In my research projects, I combined mechanistic studies in cell models with explorative studies in pigs, mice and children to increase the understanding of development of immunological memory after vaccination.


My interest and engagement for translation and extrapolations between different research models and between species and the 3Rs grew further as I was employed at the Safety Assessment unit at AstraZeneca R&D, Södertälje, Sweden. I was responsible for the 3R organisation at the unit, which gave me valuable management experience regarding internal development, testing and implementation of 3R-ideas in the frame of regulatory toxicity testing of pharmaceuticals. I continued this work as a specialist at Swetox, a national research center consisting of eleven Swedish universities, where I managed Swetox 3R-platform combined with 3R teaching and research.

Research description

My research is focused on modern methods for Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal-based research models. All 3Rs are included in my research today: studying 3R awareness in different target groups and research areas (mainly Replacement), development of methods to improve study design in toxicity testing and to increase scientific outcome with fewer research objects (Reduction), and development of new handling methods for rodents used in research (Refinement).


Current research projects as main project leader:

  • New animal-free methods to meet the need for safe chemicals (PI: Elin Törnqvist, Karolinska Institutet, (Financial support: Formas)
  • Attitudes to the 3Rs in Animal Welfare Bodies at eight Swedish universities
  • Understanding and attitudes to the 3Rs in students at the Master's programme in toxicology



Other research projects

  • Alternative methods for developmental toxicity testing (PI: Ylva Sjunnesson, Swedish University of Agriculture; Financial support: Swedish Research Council)
  • Experimental design aligned with dose-response modelling as a means for 3R in toxicity testing (PI: Mattias Öberg, Karolinska Institutet; Financial support: Swedish Research Council)
  • Group housing of male mice (Project owner and financial support: The Swedish 3Rs Center)
  • Enkätundersökning om attityd och förståelse gällande 3R hos forskare på Karolinska Institutet (Project owner: Karolinska Institutet, Animal Welfarebody; Financial support: Torvald och Britta Gahlins stiftelse för stöd av vetenskaplig forskning som kan bidra till att förfina, minska och ersätta djurförsök)

Teaching portfolio

I do different types of education / communication activities (lectures, seminars, workshops, group activities) for bachelor and master students, and for technicians, veterinarians, researchers, mangers at laboratory animal facilities at universities and private organisations. Other target groups are high schools, politicians, authorities and general public.

The research council Formas has supported two of my communication projects for Replacement of animal models in toxicity testing aiming at increasing awareness and use of non-animal based methods in risk assessment. Within these projects illustrations and films are produced on the Replacement theme for use in both teaching and communication.  

I am involved in national strategic projects for education and communication in the Swedish 3Rs Center’s steering board and the National Committee for the protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes.

There is certainly a need to increase awareness of the 3Rs and development and implementation of modern methods that Replace, Reduce and Refine animal models used in research and teaching today. Since development of modern methods has been substantial recent years, there is a lack of teaching material that is up to date within the 3R area.


PhD in Veterinary Medicine, Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) 2002 ”Effects of Immunostimulatory DNA in the pig – Induction of immunoregulatory cytokines by plasmid DNA, virus or bacteria”

Licensed Veterinarian, D.V.M., Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) 1995