Speaking of Your Research…

In 2008, Speaking of Research was set up to urge more scientists, particularly in the US, to talk about the research they conducted. While advocacy groups have an important role in helping to educate the media, policy makers and general public on the role of animals in research, the most powerful voice on this issue continues to be that of the scientist.

While advocacy groups can talk about the general benefits of animal research, scientists are able to point to specific areas of their own research which have relied on animal research. While advocacy groups can talk generally about why animal use continues to be needed, researchers are able to talk specifically about why their research could be not done without the careful and humane use of animal models. While advocacy groups can talk about this contentious issue, researchers are able to normalize it.

Normalizing this issue is no mean feat. It requires scientists to be prepared to talk about the role of animals in their research, and in the research that precedes their own (for those involved in the more publicised clinical research). It requires the university and industry press offices to be prepared to include mention of the animals in their press releases. It will then only be a matter of time before journalists, in turn, include these mentions of animals in their own articles.

There are around 5.9 million scientists (and engineers) in the US alone, of which around 250,000 are involved in Life Sciences. A large number of these use animals in research. Speaking of Research challenges 52 scientists, a minute fraction of the total, to spend 2 hours this year writing a short article about their own research and why it requires animals. If this challenge is met we could publish one article every week for a year!

There has never been a better time to get involved in Science Communication. More scientists than ever before are talking about the research they do across the internet, and it’s time that those involved in animal research join the trend.

If Frederick Banting was alive, I'm sure he'd be writing about his research for us.

If Frederick Banting were alive, I’m sure he’d be writing about his research for us.

Welcome to the Speaking of My Research series of posts.

The guidelines are simple:

–          Articles should preferably be between 400 and 1500 words (much shorter than a grant proposal!)
–          Articles should include a picture if possible (No copyrighted images please)
–          Articles should be signed. If you are uncomfortable with using your name, provide a pseudonym*
–         Articles should be written in a manner accessible by non-scientists (we can help with this)
–          Articles should cover some of the following questions:

  • What does your research involve?
  • What are you researching? What applications might your research have in the future?
  • Why do you need to use animal models, why not alternatives?
  • How do you specifically consider the welfare needs of the animals?

The Speaking of Research committee is more than willing to offer help and advice to support you writing your article. Please email us on contact@speakingofresearch.com

* There is no evidence that animal rights groups have targeted scientists because they spoke out in favour of research. Indeed, extremists prefer to target those who would quietly fold rather than those who would condemn their would-be targeters.

3 responses to “Speaking of Your Research…

  1. Not all research – animal and clinical – leads directly to new treatments and cures for everyone. Some things work well for some animals and people, but not for others. I’m glad that scientists and doctors publish their negative results as well as their positive ones, so that everyone can learn and move forward.

    This I do know: If it weren’t for research on mice, dogs and monkeys in the ’80s and ’90s by Dr. Hans Sollinger, Dr. Stuart Knechtle and others that moved into clinical trials and widespread patient use in the ’00’s, I would not have received the medicines that saved my life in 2011. They would be a lot longer coming down the pike. I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with Class III lupus nephritis. If I could have done something to prevent acquiring SLE, I would have tried my hardest. Unfortunately, this is one of the nasty ones with no known definitive cause or triggers. Hormones, stress and environmental factors are vaguely implicated in this auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack its own organs. It is more common in women, especially in their teens and child-bearing years; it is not usually hereditary, but can be. Thirty years ago, most people with SLE died and died young. Today, Dr. Hector DeLuca is researching forms of Vitamin D that may offer even greater kidney protection than the forms I am presently taking, and may prevent proteinuria altogether. For more information about SLE, please contact me at jlenon@primate.wisc.edu. (Disclosure: I am the outreach specialist for the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. I also worked eight years for my father, a pediatrician who saved many lives throughout his 50-year career.)

    I would like to see more scientists and doctors, lab animal veterinarians and caretakers write about why they do what they do. You are the reason I am here writing this and I am extremely grateful for what you do every day. I would like to see more patients share their stories as well. Read, learn, explore, find the truth, and be thankful.

    Sincerely,
    Jordana Lenon

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. Not only is it important that researchers speak out about what it is they do and why, but also the general public needs to understand how treatments, surgical procedures, vaccines and drugs come to exist from lab to bedside.
    Millions have been saved and so will many more generations.