Tag Archives: americans for medical progress

Back to school: Graduate students learn about animal research and outreach

In the Spring of 2016, a course was taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison titled “Broader Impacts: Public Outreach, Engagement, and Education about Animal Research”. This course was developed by Audrey Buelo, the 2015/2016 Michael D. Hayre Fellow for Public Outreach awarded by Americans for Medical Progress—with the advice and help of Professor Allyson J. Bennett, a faculty member in the UW-Madison Psychology Department (and SR member). In this course, students learned about animal research and how to conduct outreach with the public. Three different perspectives of the course outcomes are described below–the course organizer, a teaching assistant and the last by a student in the course.

Course organizer perspective: Audrey

The Broader Impacts course was taught for a wide variety of PhD students at UW-Madison (most of whom were working in animal research) and came from fields including neuroscience, veterinary, psychobiology, and biomedical fields.

audrey-buelo-hayre-fellow

The class was organized into two phases and provided a solid foundation for both academic and layperson dialogue surrounding animal research. Phase 1 aimed to educate the students on wide variety of fields relating to animal research: philosophy and ethics of animal research, policy, regulation, principles of science, public opinion surrounding animal research, and the wide range of views shared by individuals and organizations. Phase 2 focused primarily on creating an outreach program, including choosing and understanding your audience, using social media to share information and encourage dialogue, and implementing outreach effectively.

Multiple guest-lecturers volunteered their time to speak with the students–including several previous Hayre fellows and Speaking of Research members–each providing expertise in their fields. This included: a director of research ethics in a scientific society, a science communication specialist, an animal welfare scientist, IACUC members, and a professor in social marketing and outreach.

By the end of the course, each of the students created a proposal for an outreach program to the wider public. The proposals included educating middle school students about the scientific method and the importance of animal research; social media campaigns to stimulate discussion about the use of animals in research; and a day-long symposium to inform and engage medical doctors about the role of animal research in medical progress, in addition to many other innovative and interesting outreach proposals. These broad-reaching programs, along with the breadth of knowledge the students gained throughout the semester, have the potential to change the attitudes of many and create a ripple effect of animal research dialogue and openness that reaches far beyond the scope of this course.

The feedback from the students in the Broader Impacts course was overwhelmingly positive, nonetheless this Hayre fellowship has more to come. The materials will be revised based on the feedback received by the students and then will be freely available on the Americans for Medical Progress website in November. Every university that values animal research as an important tool of science is encouraged to use the materials to implement their own Broader Impacts course. Preparing future scientists is key to changing the current dialogue on animal research, and a significant component of the course emphasized students developing their own personal dialogue surrounding animal research, as the most compelling outreach is the one that is personable and honest.

To sign off, I’d like to thank Americans for Medical Progress for their support in creating this project and providing their expertise for each step. Also, I extend my gratitude to each student who took the course and worked hard each week, as well as the seminar leaders, guest lecturers, and course organizer who volunteered their time to ensure it went smoothly.  Without all of you, this would not have been possible.

Teaching Assistant Perspective: Marissa

While Audrey designed and oversaw the course from afar, on a weekly basis, a team of three self-motivated, volunteer graduate students ran the actual course in Madison, Wisconsin.  All three graduate student seminar leaders had unique, first-hand experience in animal research and felt strongly about the importance scientists and researcher’s contribution to animal research advocacy. I am one of those seminar leaders and a fifth year Ph. D. student in the Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology program. My research focus utilizes the use of a non-human primate model, the marmoset monkey, to study molecular and physiological mechanisms of hormones on female reproductive behavior. Throughout my graduate career, aside from direct involvement in animal research, I have also been involved in outreach efforts at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, WNPRC, which was the major motivator for getting involved with leading the course. I found the experience of leading this course to be very rewarding because I not only got the chance to share with fellow graduate students the passion and excitement that I have regarding the outcomes of animal research and in communicating with the public how important animal research is for society, I was also thoroughly impressed by the ideas my fellow graduate students in the course developed in their outreach proposals by the end of the course.

During the final seminar period, students presented their outreach proposals to the class.

During the final seminar period, students presented their outreach proposals to the class

The role of ‘seminar leader’ entailed distributing materials, clarifying assignments, introducing speakers, and most importantly (from my perspective) leading discussions on the material and individual projects. The guest speakers throughout the semester provided a lot of expert information for the students and it was astounding to watch each of the student’s individual projects evolve over the semester; incorporating the different concepts and discussion provided through the guest lectures. The variety of different proposals and angles for animal research proposed by the students in the course was also incredible to observe. The students chose very different target audiences and also incorporated an array of techniques for outreach, including clever uses for technology in getting the message across to their target audiences to affect behavior and opinion change of the general public.

The outcome of this course left me with a very positive outlook on the future of animal research outreach. It has also really highlighted how essential it is that academics and scientists get exposed to different techniques and concepts that make outreach programs successful. One of the key takeaway messages I as a seminar leader can take away from this experience is that, with the right knowledge and tools for outreach design and execution, all researchers and scientists can contribute to outreach efforts in order to sustain animal research in science, and also to gain public support and understanding for our research.

Student perspective: Caleigh

As a student in the Broader Impacts seminar, I was exposed to many different resources for animal research advocacy.  I learned a lot about the history of animal research, the differences between protection for research animals and other animals, and also how activists or those in industry may perceive animal research. Expanding my knowledge on animal research advocacy gave me tools to better communicate with both my peers and the public.

In addition to the course materials, it was really inspiring to talk with students from all over campus about animal research advocacy. Having a structured place to talk with my peers about animal research was really rewarding. I felt like there was a lot of support on campus—from medical and veterinary students to PhD researchers. One of the coolest parts of the class was creating an outreach project that would bring correct information about animal research to the public. The outreach project discussions really brought out the passion and creativity in a lot of students, and sparked many great conversations. I would recommend this course to anyone that does animal research or is interested in learning more about it.

Students and seminar leaders of Broader Impacts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Students and seminar leaders of Broader Impacts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Reaching the Roots: Educating Veterinary Students

Dr Logan FranceWe have a guest post from Dr. Logan France, the 2015-16 Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) Hayre Fellow and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She discusses her upcoming outreach project – Biomedical Research Awareness Day (BRAD). AMP is now opening their application for this year’s Michael D Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach – a great opportunity to get involved in helping to explain the role of animals in medical research.

On April 19th, veterinary schools across the country will come together to celebrate the first national Biomedical Research Awareness Day (BRAD). Twenty veterinary schools will participate in an effort to provide more information about animal-based research and to honor the contribution of laboratory animals to medical progress. Each participating institution has been given the tools and resources to create a BRAD celebration at their school tailored to include activities and information of their choosing. Lectures, interactive displays, freebies, guest speakers, and other items will be on the agenda as students and faculty at each school focus on the importance of biomedical research.

Part of the initiative includes the incorporation of social media to connect students and allow schools to share how they are preparing for BRAD, as well as the outcome of their celebration. Please visit and “LIKE” the BRAD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BioMedResearchDay to show your support for BRAD, the participating veterinary schools, and biomedical research.

Whatever their area of practice, it is important that all veterinarians understand the critical role of laboratory animals in the quest for treatments and cures. Conveying this awareness to students during their veterinary education establishes a foundation of knowledge and support for biomedical research and increases awareness of laboratory animal medicine as a possible career choice. In addition to reaching out to veterinary students, many schools are holding their celebrations during the Vet School Open House, which is an opportunity for members of the public to visit the school and learn more about the field and current issues.

Biomedical Research Awareness DayAs a recent veterinary graduate, current Laboratory Animal Medicine resident at Johns Hopkins University, and passionate supporter of biomedical research and the humane use of animals in research, I strove to create a project that would provide education and awareness to my peers, bring together veterinary students across the country for a common goal, and become an annual event, involving an increasing number of faculty and students each year.

It is crucial to expand the input and support of those in the field if we are to maximize the impact of this program. We hope each celebration stimulates vigorous discussions among veterinarians, students, technicians, scientists, educators and others on the critical need for animals in biomedical research, the importance of public outreach and education, and how to bring more veterinary schools and research institutions aboard so BRAD might be expanded in successive years.

Beagle Freedom Project Uses Former Research Dogs to Spotlight its Anti-Research Campaign

Today’s guest post  is by Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, chair of Americans for Medical Progress.

Activists at the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) continue to gather support for their agenda to end animal-based research – and some in the research community are unknowingly helping them.

Many of you have seen recent TV news items or read news articles that feature beagles said to have been saved from laboratories where they never had a toy, played with other dogs, or experienced kindness and love from people in research settings. The Beagle Freedom Project uses the limitations of the news media to create this one-sided and false impression of the lives of research dogs.

Individuals at research institutions interested in rehoming post-study animals are approached by adopters representing themselves as private citizens, eager to adopt dogs retired from research. These applicants don’t indicate that they are working with the Beagle Freedom Project. We know of several institutions that have fallen prey to this misrepresentation by the BFP: within days of adoption, their freely released animals are listed as ‘rescued’ by BFP, along with the activists’ usual anti-research propaganda.

As Chair of the Board of Directors of Americans for Medical Progress, as well as an animal lover and someone who directs an animal care program for a major research center in the US, I would like to tell you the real story.

dog, animal testing, animal experiment

Beagle in research

These dogs are NOT ‘rescued’ from research facilities. They’re voluntarily released by the lab animal caregivers who love and cherish them. Research institutions have been rehoming dogs for years, over forty in some cases, without ‘help’ from the Beagle Freedom Project.  That’s how BFP acquired these dogs to begin with: they adopted them from research animal caregivers who were fooled into believing that the adopters’ only intention was to provide research dogs with a good home. The truth is that these dogs were adopted for use as props to support an animal rights agenda that is harmful to public health and safety.

Readers should be aware that BFP is led by animal rights activists, including Kevin Chase (formerly Kevin Kjonaas) who was convicted and served several years in prison for violating the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Kevin Kjonaas is the Director of Operations of BFP. The Founder and President of BFP is Shannon Keith. Ms. Keith was one of Kevin’s defense attorneys during his domestic terrorism trial. She also produced and directed “Behind the Mask”, a film released in 2006 that glorifies the Animal Liberation Front, a group known for illegal animal rights activity.

The bottom line is this: BFP personnel and associates misrepresent their intentions to the research institutions they target and then deceive the public about the condition and treatment of dogs in research. Why? To demonize the scientific quest for cures that you and I demand.

The welfare and well-being of research animals and our animal care programs are inspected and evaluated by local and federal authorities multiple times per year. Moreover, most of us VOLUNTEER for an intense accreditation review by international experts every three years to ensure that we are providing our animals with the best quality of life possible. A review of the photos and video BFP itself offers of recently released dogs reveals the truth behind BPF’s deception. The dogs’ body condition and coats are gorgeous because they receive top notch nutrition and veterinary care while they are with us. They’re friendly because they have enjoyed socialization and playtime with other dogs and with our caretakers who adore them. The public fails to see this with their own eyes because they have been brainwashed by animal rights extremists for decades…and they seem to prefer drama over the truth.

Tell me something: Why would people who allegedly care so little about these dogs, as BPF claims, offer them for adoption? It’s not a trivial process. Records of animal health and release have to be generated, and adopters have to be located and screened. If our institutions really wanted to hide their ‘dirty little research secrets’, why wouldn’t they just euthanize all of these dogs, rather than risk ‘exposure’ by offering them to the public, as has been suggested by BFP?

Our dogs are offered for adoption because we love them and are grateful for their contributions to human and animal well-being. We want these heroes to live long, healthy, fun lives with loving adopters who have the patience and information needed to help them adjust to their new families. What is heartbreaking is that some of our institutions have closed their adoption programs because they were either exploited directly by BFP, or they don’t know who to trust anymore.

When are you and I going to hold the Beagle Freedom Project accountable for caring more about its agenda than our precious heroes?!

We all love these dogs and we all wish that they weren’t still necessary for the development of treatments and cures for conditions like cancer, Hepatitis C and Ebola. For now, they are still needed. Until we find a better way – and we are working on it – this research will continue to improve the lives of our friends, families and pets. The public is grossly misinformed about the care of animals in biomedical research and thus, unwittingly, people are supporting agendas that will harm them and their loved ones. Our faith is with our fellow citizens – but they must hear both sides of this issue, presented fairly. The media has an especially critical role in getting this right and they have, in most cases, fallen short of the mark. I am hopeful that they will do better by our citizens in the future.

Cindy Buckmaster, PhD, CMAR, RLATG; Chair, Americans for Medical Progress

See also:

https://speakingofresearch.com/2013/11/26/jerry-the-beagle-and-the-liberation-that-wasnt/

2013 AMP Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach

Today’s guest post is from Elizabeth Reitz, who is the program director for Americans for Medical Progress. They are now starting their 2013 Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach – a great program which played a huge part in starting Speaking of Research in 2008. Please share this with friends and colleagues.

Americans for Medical Progress needs your help to reach young research advocates to be considered for our 2013 Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach.

Please help us get the word out about our Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach by sharing the news with your friends and colleagues, and asking others to pass the information along.  The application process is now open and AMP will accept applications through Friday, April 12, 2013.

At Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) we are committed to fostering innovative outreach programs that engage the next generation of research advocatesThe AMP/Hayre Fellowship supports college students and young adults in creating innovative peer education projects focused on the importance of animal research to medical progress.  Fellows receive a $5,000 stipend and project support.

Named in memory of AMP’s late chairman, Michael D. Hayre, DVM, ACLAM, the Fellowship program began in 2008.  Tom Holder, a founding member of the U.K. student group Pro-Test, was the Inaugural Fellow. During his time as an AMP Hayre Fellow, Tom developed the foundation of what has now become Speaking of Research.  You may read more about the Fellows and learn about their lasting contributions to advocacy.

If you have additional ideas on how to get the word out about the Fellowship, or if you would like more information, or if you can offer other support for the AMP/Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach, please reach out by email or at 703-836-9595 x104.

Thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm for the AMP mission and our mutual commitment to share the importance of science and biomedical research with future generations of advocates!

Elizabeth Reitz, Program Director, AMP

Part 7. Many voices speaking of research: Americans for Medical Progress

We recently wrote about the many existing venues, activities, and materials designed to encourage public dialogue and informed discussion about animal research.  Many individuals, institutions, and organizations contribute to public outreach and education efforts, and also take active roles in dialogue about continuing changes in practice and policy concerning animal welfare and the conduct of animal research.  This post is the sixth in a series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6) hosted by Speaking of Research to highlight a wide range of individuals and groups devoted to consideration of animal research.

Our latest contribution comes from Elizabeth Reitz, Program Director of Americans for Medical Progress.  

Americans for Medical Progress – Protecting Your Investment in Biomedical Research
For AMP, Protecting Your Investment in Research is more than a slogan.  We have two objectives.  One is to provide relevant, critical and timely information to the research community to help mitigate the immediate threats posed by animal rights extremists.  But we also focus on the long term through our outreach programs to inform and empower young adults about the value of animal-based research, for they represent the next generation of scientists, research advocates, and voters upon whom the future of medical progress rests.

One of our most dynamic and far-reaching advocacy initiatives, the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach, supports college students and young adults in the creation of innovative peer education projects focused on the importance of animal research. Over the past four years, the Hayre Fellowship has demonstrated that creative, realistic and well-designed programs can have a positive and lasting influence on public attitudes toward the importance of animals to biomedical research.

We are delighted to have provided our inaugural Hayre Fellow, Tom Holder, a launching pad from which to create Speaking of Research, and another Fellow, Megan Wyeth, the opportunity to contribute to the development of Pro-Test for Science.   A team of Fellows, Gillian Braden-Weiss and Breanna Caltagarone, created the website Thank a Mouse in appreciation of the roles of all animal species in the advancement of medical science.

More recently another Hayre Fellows team, Elizabeth Burnett and Scott Dobrin, launched SHARE – Speaking Honestly: Animal Research Education. The program has already reached hundreds of teens and young adults on high school and college campuses across America and it has the potential to reach tens of thousands more.  Through its interactive online toolkit that includes video vignettes, course curricula, and downloadable class materials, SHARE helps teachers facilitate classroom discussions on the humane use of animals in research in an engaging and interactive manner.

AMP’s Raising Voices, Saving Lives campaign recognizes that social media has evolved into a powerful force for advocacy with immense potential to influence young audiences.  Thus we have awarded a new Hayre Fellowship this year to Gene Rukavina of UCLA, who is building a strong online community in support of animal-based research that offers information and advocacy resources via our accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets.

While reaching young adults is vital, AMP also understands the importance of connecting with students at a younger age.  At the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC, AMP and The AALAS Foundation created an exciting interactive exhibit about the value of animal research that reached thousands of children, parents, and teachers. Piecing Research Together cast children in the role of research investigators to build individual jigsaw games that highlight various animal models, and created teams to work collaboratively in solving a larger puzzle about biomedical research.

Piecing Research Together interactive exhibit at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC.

AMP has now turned the game over to The AALAS Foundation so it might be easily loaned to advocacy groups, institutions and teachers across America seeking resources for science education. AMP and The AALAS Foundation will continue this partnership in 2013 to create new interactive tools to help children think critically about animal research.

AMP has created advocacy resources – including some in Spanish, French and Portuguese – for those wishing to enhance their own public outreach on behalf of medical progress.

As much as we at AMP enjoy the advocacy aspect of our programs, there’s another critical component of AMP’s service:  the guidance and training that we offer to research stakeholders to mitigate the challenges to medical progress that are posed by animal rights activists. Our email newsletter is available to all in the community and offers quick updates and critical analysis of the activist opposition to research, as well as highlights of research advocacy initiatives worldwide.  AMP’s staff is accessible 24/7 to institutions and individuals facing acute activist campaigns.

Whether it’s through our innovative outreach programs, collaborative partnerships, or counsel for research stakeholders, AMP continues its work to strengthen public understanding and appreciation for the role of animals in biomedical research.

Help Defend Research: Apply for the Michael D Hayre Fellowship

Our colleagues at Americans for Medical Progress are taking applications for the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach. In 2008 I became the Inaugural Fellow, using the opportunity advance public understanding of medical research through Speaking of Research (which was joinly supported by AMP and Pro-Test). I would recommend anyone interested in defending lifesaving medical research has a look at this Fellowship. Here are some more details:

We need your help finding the next generation of research advocates: young leaders with new ideas and energy for public outreach.  Please help us get the word out about our Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach.

The AMP/Hayre Fellowship supports college students and young adults in creating innovative peer education projects focused on the importance of animal research to medical progress.  Fellows receive a $5,000 stipend and project support.

Named in memory of AMP’s late chairman, Michael D. Hayre, DVM, ACLAM, the Fellowship program began in 2008.  Tom Holder, a founding member of the U.K. student group Pro-Test, was the Inaugural Fellow.  This year we were fortunate to have three Fellows: Gillian Branden-Weiss and Brenna Caltagarone, both veterinary students at the University of Pennsylvania, and Megan Wyeth, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  You may read more about the Fellows and learn about some of their lasting contributions to advocacy.

Here are a few ways ways that you can help us find the next Hayre Fellows:

Post the Fellowship announcement on your website.

Print out and distribute the Fellowship flyer to potential candidates.

Share the news with your friends and colleagues.

Ask others to pass the information along.

If you have additional ideas on how to get the word out about the Fellowship, or if you would like more information, or can offer other support for the AMP/Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach, please let me know.

Thank you.  We appreciate all that you do on behalf of medical research!

So even if you’re not interested yourself, passing it on to your friends and colleagues.

Cheers

Tom

Pro-Test’s Pycroft still Speaking Up

Five years ago, a sixteen year old led scientists, students and members of the public in the first ever rally to support biomedical research. Laurie Pycroft shot into the media limelight as the boy who dared to stand up to animal rights activists. The Pro-Test movement he begun has helped to shape the public attitudes towards animal research in Britain – bringing them firmly behind lifesaving research.

So where is Laurie now? The Independent recently caught up with the 21-year old Pycroft, who has become an undergraduate at Oxford with an aim to study neuroscience.  He notes that, in addition to an early natural inclination in that direction, his interaction with scientists for Pro-Test drew him to research over clinical practice.

Modest about his exceptional accomplishments as founder of Pro-Test, he has been influential across the pond in the US as well. Pro-Test has acted as a model to both Speaking of Research, and the Pro-Test for Science movement (which has done more to effectively replicate Pro-Test’s tactics). His sense of justice and courage to speak out in the face of external malice and internal depression serves as a role model to us all. Below, we can see Pycroft and SR founder, Tom Holder, speaking about why they felt animal research was such an important issue while helping to inform the public on Pro-Test’s five year anniversary.

A number of scientists and organizations here in the US have stepped up to speak the truth in answer to the misleading propaganda from animal rights groups.  And now, as has been widely reported, AR activists have explicitly set students in their sights, targeting them for their supposed vulnerability to manipulation.

Laurie Pycroft is Exhibit A for the error of this assertion.  He is one of a kind, but what we do need is for individuals of the academic community in their departments, at their universities, and with their societies to band together in order to support one another, and to get the word out to the public about the truth of the methods and importance of animals in responsible biomedical research.  This engagement is part of the responsibility of being a scientist.

Like Laurie, no doubt most researchers at least understand where many opponents are coming from:

“Some of them have an internally consistent intellectual argument,” he says. “There is a popular misconception that animal rights activists are all firebomb-throwing nuts, but a lot are very reasonable people. There is a very small minority, but a very vocal one, which is not. A lot of them are in jail and so that part of the debate has been closed down.”

Here in the US, we still have our work cut out for us to allay the ravages of extremism.

Other young adults moved to take action have received support from the Hayre Fellowship and the considerable expertise of the dedicated individuals at AMP.  There is still time to meet this year’s application deadline on May 20th 2011. Any student or young person with a desire to educate and an innovative idea for outreach is encouraged to apply.

Medical progress and researchers personally, owe a debt of gratitude to Laurie and others who have shown the way by their leadership.  His studies will bring many new challenges that all graduate students past and present can sympathize with (and that we often hold up as an excuse to neglect our outreach duties).  He will no doubt excel, and we welcome him into the field.

Regards,

Megan