A successful year for Speaking of Research in the media

2015 was another successful year for Speaking of Research in the media.

In February, Speaking of Research Director, Tom Holder, was invited to speak to BBC Look East (from 1:36 in video below) about the construction of a new medical research facility in Cambridge, UK. In the interview, Holder reminded viewers that “animal research plays a small but vital role in the development of nearly all of the medical and veterinary treatments that we know today“.

In March, as the UK parliamentary elections loomed, we  found that many election candidates had signed animal rights pledges which would effectively ban 88.6% of research – including all basic research. SR was quoted by BuzzFeed saying  that banning basic research was “akin to asking a child to solve a difficult crossword without first teaching them to read” and in in-Pharma Technologist saying that “the reality is that without the fundamental research and the breeding of GM animals, the Applied research could not happen“.

This story was picked up again in April by a Wall Street Journal blog, which further noted the dangers of banning basic research. Among a number of quotes by SR, we noted that “All veterinary research would end. And it would cripple our ability to make advances in cancer, heart disease and many other conditions, all of which rely on studies on genetically modified animals”.

June marked the first of many stories in 2015 where Speaking of Research weighed in on the building of a new and improved beagle breeding facility in Hull, UK. There has been an ongoing battle over planning permission for the extended facility. SR mentioned the potential medical benefits in an interview (from 1:40 below) with ITV, saying, “There are thousands and thousands of medical breakthroughs which have come about, in part, because of studies using animals, and hopefully we will be able to develop the next generation of cancer treatments, and the next generation of heart treatments“.

In July, Speaking of Research put out their first press release, to cover the publication of the 2014 US animal research statistics. The release was picked up by Science, a better result that if the story had only been sent out from the animal rights lobby in America. Later in the month the beagle breeding facility story was again picked up in Inquisitr and Huffington Post with SR quotes; Holder told HuffPost, “Dogs have played a crucial role in medical advances including the development of ECG, insulin, heart transplant surgery and treatments for prostate cancer. They continue to be used for research into stem cell treatments and spinal injury, as well as to ensure the safety of new medicines and treatments“.

The HuffPost story also led to a blog on Huffpost entitled “Why people are wrong to oppose the new beagle breeding facility” by Tom Holder. The article was shared over 650 times, and garnered well over 4,000 Facebook likes. July also resulted in two radio interviews. Firstly, Holder spoke to Radio Spintalk Ireland about the general subject of animal research – covering common misconceptions, the regulations in Ireland, and the possible effects of banning animal studies. You can listen to this below.

Secondly, Speaking of Research spoke to BBC Radio West Midlands after an investigation looked at the number of animals being used in research in several British universities.

Laboratory Dogs
“Animal research may not be something we want to think about when we take our medicines – but it is something necessary for those medicines to exist. Instead of trying to ban animal research, let’s instead make sure that if we do it, we do it to world-class standards.”, writes Tom Holder in Huffington Post


October gave Speaking of Research the chance to say something about the animal rights group PETA. US News, the Daily Mail and New Zealand Herald all picked up on an article by AP about AP’s 35th birthday. Speaking of Research were quoted saying:

“By campaigning against animal research, PETA presents a threat to the development of human and veterinary medicine. Only days ago we saw the Nobel Prize awarded to Tu Youyou, whose work in monkeys and mice paved the way for the use of artemisinin to protect against malaria, saving over 100,000 lives every year. If PETA had got their way 30 years ago, we would not have vaccines for HPV, hepatitis B or meningitis, nor would we have treatments for leprosy, modern asthma treatments and life support for premature babies,”

In November Science Insider discussed PETA’s targeting of the NIH director’s home in a bid to fight primate research in the US. Tom Holder described the tactic of sending out letters with personal details of a researcher as “irresponsible and dangerous”

Finally, in December, Science Insider followed the story after the NIH decided not to continue to the primate research of Dr Suomi. Speaking of Research commented on this, saying that the NIH needed to become more vocal in explaining research. We have also been writing about this on the website.

We hope to have another successful year in 2016. Until then have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Speaking of Research