The Speaking of Research Rapid Response Network is a new initiative that aims to bring together scientists, veterinarians, animal care staff, and other animal research advocates to support the principles of science, openness and the continuation of biomedical research.
Our Rapid Response Network will send out occasional alerts about important actions you could take to stand up for biomedical research. These actions can range from signing open letters in defense of institutions and their research, to supporting colleagues who have been harassed or targeted, to informing the public about biomedical and behavioral research in innovative ways.
There is an urgent need for a response network. Already, in recent months, we have seen:
- A directive by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to significantly reduce and eventually eliminate animal safety tests by 2035. The move was widely criticized by scientists as an action in direct conflict with the agency’s mission to protect the health of Americans, animals, and the environment.
- 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.
- 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 ask that you share some basic information about your research so that we send you the Rapid Response Alerts that are most relevant to you. Furthermore, by collecting information on research areas, species studied, and more, we are effectively creating a network of experts we hope to be able to reach out to when needed.
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.
Do you know of a situation where the Rapid Response Network might be of assistance? Examples: an animal rights campaign targeting an individual or institution, the abrupt suspension of critical research for unclear reasons, or perhaps you know of a great opportunity to increase understanding about animal research. Whatever the case, send us an email with as much information as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise not to share any details outside of our organization without your explicit permission.
Rapid Response Network Alerts:
Open letter calling for greater openness in animal research (April/May 2018)
We got a massive response to our first RRN action. Our open letter calling for increased openness about the important role of animals in health research received almost 600 signatures – including four Nobel Laureates! The letter was published in USA Today and the full list of signatories can be found on our website.
“I read the letter and decided within minutes that I would sign it,” Greider, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine biologist and 2009 Nobel laureate, tells Science. “Animal research is very important to understanding fundamental biological mechanisms.”
The letter was mentioned in numerous media outlets including:
- Science – ‘A cataclysmic wake-up call’: Can more candor win back support for animal research (US)
- Science – Hundreds of US scientists urge more transparency in animal research (US)
- Undark – Health effects of family separation, transparency in animal research, and more (US)
- The Scientist – US Scientists’ Letter Calls for Transparency in Animal Research (US)
- ALN Magazine – Nobel Prize Winners Lead Call for Greater Openness in Animal Research (US)
Here is the full text of the 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.