Ten years ago, we launched Speaking of Research to provide the science community with an opportunity to stand up and defend the important role of animals in medical, veterinary and scientific research. Over the past decade, an ever-increasing audience of scientists, clinicians, animal care staff and members of the public have supported that cause. At times, we’ve asked you to join us in advocating for animal-based research by signing open letters or taking part in other communications efforts. As Speaking of Research enters its second decade of existence, and with the global decline in animal rights extremism, we believe now is the time for the scientific community to step-up these efforts.
Today we are pleased to announce the launch of two major initiatives. The first is for members of the American scientific community, the second is for everyone. We hope you will join us in supporting one or both efforts.
1. Sign our letter calling for greater openness in animal research
It is no secret that support for animal research is declining. Activist groups have increased lobbying efforts and have successfully shut down important biomedical and behavioral research. The scientific community must respond, and we must do so by taking even bigger strides in informing the public about the importance of the work we do.
We want you to sign a new letter which calls for greater openness from the institutions that conduct this vital research. We must also remind Americans that animal studies remain necessary to develop scientific knowledge to combat disease and improve health. Please join us in signing the following letter:
Animal research plays a fundamental role in medical, veterinary and scientific progress. From the development of insulin and transplant surgery to modern day advances, including gene therapies and cancer treatments; animals – from mice to monkeys – continue to play a crucial role in both basic and applied research. Animal studies have been involved in 96 of the 108 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine. And it’s not just humans that benefit – every veterinary treatment in existence has been made possible thanks to studies in animals.
However, such research can only continue with public support. Strict regulations and oversight reflect Americans’ desire for animals to be treated with care and respect. Furthermore, many studies – particularly those that help us understand basic biological systems – rely on public funding.
We, the undersigned members of America’s scientific community, call upon our country’s research institutions – large and small – to embrace openness. We should proudly explain how animals are used for the advancement of science and medicine, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of humans and animals.
The letter is intended to come from the American scientific community. Therefore, all signatories must be U.S. scientists, veterinarians or other laboratory staff or students from research organizations – public or private.
Once we obtain more than 200 signatures, we intend to make the letter public, through the news media and other communications channels. We also plan to post the letter and update it as more participants sign-on.
2. Join the Speaking of Research Rapid Response Network
The above letter is the first action of our newly established Rapid Response Network. Speaking of Research has partnered with several U.S. advocacy organizations on a new initiative and we need you to take part.
Our Rapid Response Network will send out occasional alerts about important actions you could take to stand up for biomedical and behavioral research. These actions can range from signing open letters in defense of institutions and their studies, to supporting colleagues who have been harassed or targeted, to informing the public about biomedical research in innovative ways.
The need for such a network is great. In recent months, we have seen:
- Intense lobbying efforts by an animal rights group that aims to defund federal research leading 53 congressional members to call for an end to all dog-based studies in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- New restrictions placed on the VA’s dog studies that were included in the recent omnibus spending bill that was signed into law by the president.
- Harassment of an early-career researcher by animal rights campaigners, including home demonstrations.
- Research involving monkeys halted by the FDA in response to activist efforts. Without any prior warning or explanation, the researchers were told to end the study before proper evaluation had even taken place.
If you are a scientist, we will ask that you share some basic information about your research so that we can send you the Rapid Response Alerts that are most relevant to you. However, you do not need to be a researcher, or even work in a lab to help. Many of our future actions will need the support of members of the public.
We all benefit from animal research – from the vaccines we receive as infants, to the medicines that keep us healthy later in life – and we should all have a voice in ensuring life-changing research can continue.
We ask you to join us.
Please share the permanent page about the Speaking of Research Rapid Response Network with friends and colleagues.