Like many other animal-related businesses universities, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, their suppliers, associated businesses and non-profit trade associations, are facing increasing scrutiny by the public who seemingly object to the use of animals in research, even though research benefits animals as well as humans.
To address these issues and concerns head on, the New Jersey Association of Biomedical Research recently hosted one of the most significant efforts to promote biomedical research advocacy, the “Biomedical Research Summit,” presented by Bristol-Myers Squibb, also sponsored by Covance, Charles River Laboratories, s-tune software, Inc., Marshall BioResources, and Allentown, Inc.
Representatives from interested state and national advocacy and professional organizations who are involved in the lab animal research community, as well as representatives from research institutions, including pharmaceuticals, academia and CRSOs, to find common ground and come together on key issues.
Vice-Chair of the NJABR Board of Directors, Laura Conour, DVM, DACLAM facilitated the discussions during the two-day event, encouraging participants to
find ways to enhance the public’s understanding of the critical work undertaken by the biomedical research community and to provide a strong support network for all members in our community, regardless of geography.
The Summit was a huge success, bringing together not only the biomedical research community but also other animal-related sectors under similar attack by animal rights activists.
The following needs and gaps identified include:
- A centralized approach for advocacy of biomedical research;
- A compelling, consistent, proactive national communication plan;
- A comprehensive and effective education effort to address society’s negative perception and lack of understanding about animal research;
- There is a lack of an organized and cohesive advocacy effort;
- There is a lack of a constituency (a group that support or offers authority and representation) interconnecting with all stakeholders to create a larger network of interests to build and establish effective education efforts; and
- Resources are needed to effectuate these goals.
The future of biomedical research advocacy requires a coalescence of all those involved with the humane use of animals for human and animal benefits to educate the public about, not only the necessity of animal use, but also that the animals are treated humanely, and with the understanding that as science advances, the treatment of animals is always evolving to ensure that animals are treated humanely.
Others in the global biomedical research community have launched campaigns in the U.S. and overseas to increase transparency and public education about the special care animals receive in research as well as the incredible importance of their contribution to animal and human health. For example, as previously discussed, Americans for Medical Progress launched a virtual website “Come See Our World,” where visitors learn about the important role animals play in medical progress.
Also, the non-profit “Understanding Animal Research” launched a new online tool that allows anyone interested to visit four research facilities in the U.K., through digital video tours. Participating facilities include the MRC Harwell Institute, The Pirbright Institute, the University of Bristol, and the University of Oxford.
Understanding Animal Research explains:
why animals are used in medical and scientific research. We aim to achieve a broad understanding of the humane use of animals in medical, veterinary, scientific and environmental research in the UK. We are funded by our members who include universities, professional societies, industry and charities.
In addition to the virtual lab tours, Understanding Animal Research hosts another website “Concordat on Openness on Animal Research” for “Universities, charities, commercial companies, research councils, umbrella bodies and learned societies [that] have all committed to help the public understand more about animal research.”
Stay tuned for more information about these important developments.