Speaking of Research Year in Review 2020

December 31st 2020

This year has been a difficult one to say the least. Like many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us at Speaking of Research in major ways—with re-prioritization of time to child, elder and other care, the switch to online teaching and other major job related decisions, the experience of job loss and sadly, the death of loved ones. Despite these challenges Speaking of Research has had a great year, with over 350,000 site visits and sustained engagement by our 5000+ avid social media followers and readers. As in previous years, we worked closely with media outlets and scientific and other advocacy organizations  to defend public interests in science, support scientists, encourage greater openness, and put pressure on government agencies to more actively promote and support animal research. To kick off 2021, we highlight key events and some of the unique work that our members contributed in 2020.

  • Committee member, Professor Juan Carlos Marvizion detailed in a provocative piece why computer models are not or even likely to replace animal research. Unlike many other opinion pieces on this topic, Professor Marvizion relied on the scientific method to conclude “….computer models are not replacing and likely will never replace animal research. Computers can do amazing things, but they cannot guess information that they do not have. There are limits to what is possible, and this is one of them.”
  • We introduced the #FactCheckNeeded hashtag as a means of tagging and combating unsubstantiated exaggeration and bias too often found in the media relating to animal research.
  • We discussed how the first in the country ban of breeding and possession of dogs and cats for research or experimentation within a small city in Wisconsin, sets a much broader and longer-term consequence beyond local legislation–especially as the preponderance of dogs used in Wisconsin for research and experimentation are used by private companies.
  • In our second #FactCheckNeeded piece we highlighted the irresponsible journalism surrounding the claims that those opposed to animal research have been making to the forced swim test–a behavioral assay used in mono-amine related depression research.
  • As a follow-up to some of our pieces in 2019, we highlighted some of the consequences of sustained anti-animal research groups’  attacks on scientists and the consequences of a lack of institutional and other support when world renowned neuroscientist and animal researcher, Nikos Logothetis, announced his move to China.
  • We discussed the vital role that animal research has played in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and will play in the continued evaluation of safety and efficacy. #AnimalResearchSavesLives
  • We highlighted the continued progress in basic science: Committee member, Dr. Justin Varholick discussed how animal research continues ‘in parallel’ despite major scientific breakthroughs to further refine and address uncorrected symptoms by describing the history of ‘open fetal surgery’ and treating spina bifida.
  • We covered #WorldImmunizationWeek 2020: #VaccinesWorkforAll highlighting the vital role animal research plays in the development of vaccines for diseases, and in our evaluation of their efficacy and safety, including COVID-19.
  • We called out the irresponsible behavior by representatives of organizations fundamentally opposed to all animal research in the midst of a global COVID-19 health crisis.

We hope that 2021 is less tumultuous than 2020, and we at Speaking of Research will continue to bring you fact-based and contemporary analysis of issues pertaining to animal research. Until then, all of us at Speaking of Research wish you a Happy New Year!

~Speaking of Research