Tag Archives: Hayre Fellowship

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.

Public Outreach – A Toolkit for Investigators

That public outreach is an increasingly important part of the scientific life in the 21st century should be news to no-one, and this is as true of biomedical research as of any other field of scientific endeavor. Allyson Bennett has written extensively for us on this subject, highlighting both the benefits of public outreach, and the perils of not engaging in it.

Of course getting involved in public outreach and education can be a daunting prospect if you have no previous experience of it, which is why we support initiatives such as the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach, and recently launched our “Many Voices Speaking of Animal Research” series that highlights different approaches to public outreach, the most recent of which focused on community engagement at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

This week we are pleased to welcome a new initiative to the growing list of resources available to support public outreach.

The American Physiological Society has launched the online resource “Public Outreach – A Toolkit for Investigators” which offers scientists and scientific institutions advice on engaging with the public on animal research issues. The toolkit includes presentations delivered by Speaking of Research committee members Bill Yates, Dario Ringach and Jim Newman at a symposium earlier this year, which examined the topic from a range of perspectives.

We thank the American Physiological Society for making this valuable new resource available to the scientific community.

Speaking of Research

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

Microbicide gel cuts HIV infection rates…thank the monkeys!

There was exciting news on Monday when it was announced at an international AIDS conference in Vienna that microbicide gel had dramatically reduced the transmission of HIV in a Phase 2 clinical trial involving 889 women in South Africa.  If confirmed by  larger phase 3 trials this gel will offer millions of women a way to protect themselves against this dread disease that blights communities around the world.

Dr Abdool Karim explains how to use a microbicide gel applicator. Image courtesy of CAPRISA.

Unlike previous microbicide gels that failed to offer significant protection against HIV infection this gel included the anti-retroviral drug tenofovir. Regular readers of this blog may recognize tenofovir, it was discussed in an article on the role of non-human primate research in developing HIV prophylaxis by virologist Dr. Koen Van Rompay that we posted last year.  Dr. Van Rompay’s article looked at the use of oral tenofovir in pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis rather than its use in a microbicide gel.

So did the research on preventing SIV transmission in monkeys influence the decision to use tenofovir in this microbicide gel? You betcha! In the first report of a Phase 1 trial of this tenofovir-containing microbicide gel published in 2006 (1) the authors state that the success of tenofovir in preventing SIV infection on monkeys – the same research discussed by Dr. Van Rompay – was a deciding factor when they took this gel into clinical trials.

‘Tenofovir gel, 9-[(R)-9-(2-phosphonylmethoxyprophyl) propyl]adenine monohydrate, a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor, has demonstrated ability to inhibit retroviral replication in animals and humans, and it has been well tolerated when used orally, as tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, (tenofovir DF; Viread) [16–20]. Tenofovir DF has been approved for treatment of HIV-1 infection and is increasingly used as part of therapeutic regimens for HIV-positive individuals [21]. Tenofovir has been proven to be effective in blocking the transmission of SIV in animal models when given as pre- or postexposure prophylaxis systemically or when applied as an intravaginal gel [22–25]. Tenofovir bisphosphate, the active intracellular moiety, has a very long intracellular half-life (> 72 h), which could allow for more convenient, coitally independent intravaginal use [26]. Given the data showing animal protection with tenofovir gel, and the extensive human safety data with oral tenofovir in HIV-positive patients, the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) decided to assess the safety and tolerability of tenofovir gel in HIV-negative and HIV-positive women and their male sexual partners (HPTN 050).’

The above passage also mentions that they tested whether the microbicide gel containing tenofovir could prevent vaginal SIV transmission in monkeys*, and the finding that it could drove their subsequent decision to take the gel into clinical trials.  This was an important decision, a review of HIV microbicide gels published in the journal Science (2) two years ago pointed out the failure to evaluate other microbicide gels in monkey models of HIV transmission allowed these gels to proceed into clinical trials where they subsequently failed.  It is notable that the microbicide PRO 2000, also evaluated in monkeys, is the only other microbicide to demonstrate an ability (albeit less dramatic) to prevent HIV infection in clinical trials.

So what now? Well the tenofovir containing gel will go on into larger phase 3 trials to further evaluate its ability to prevent HIV infection in women. In the meantime following a study showing that it can prevent the transmission of rectal SIV transmission in macaques (3) this gel is now in phase 1 safety trials in men.

This is welcome news after years of disappointment, and further evidence that where HIV is concerned there can be no shortcuts; all therapies whether microbicide gels or vaccines must be thoroughly evaluated in stringent animal models before being taken to human clinical trials. Perhaps now we can start to turn realism into optimism.

In other news this week, Americans for Medical progress have announced the 2010 Michael D. Hayre Fellows in Public Outreach. Neuroscientists Elizabeth Burnett and Scott Dobrin will use the fellowship grant to develop their project “Speaking Honestly – Animal Research Education (SHARE)”, which is designed to guide educators in leading classroom discussions on the humane use of animals in research in an engaging and interactive manner. We wish them the very best as they follow in the footsteps of the first Hayre fellow, Speaking of Research founder Tom Holder.

* Unfortunately this study was never published in the scientific literature, this is something that sometimes happens with pre-clinical studies performed by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies…usually because they wish to keep the work confidential for commercial reasons…and is a source of great frustration to people like me who write about this work!

Paul Browne

1)      Mayer K.H. et al. “Safety and tolerability of tenofovir vaginal gel in abstinent and sexually active HIV-infected and uninfected women.” AIDS. volume 20(4), pages 543-551 (2006), DOI:10.1097/01.aids.0000210608.70762.c3.

2)      Grant R.M. “Whither or wither microbicides?”  Science. Volume 321(5888), pages 532-534 (2008), PubMed Central:PMC2835691.

3)      Cranage M. et al. “Prevention of SIV Rectal Transmission and Priming of T Cell Responses in Macaques after Local Pre-exposure Application of Tenofovir Gel” PLoS Med. Volume 5(8):e157(2008) DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050157

Make a Difference – The Hayre Fellowship

Do you want to make a difference in the movement to protect biomedical research from animal rights militants?  Do have an idea to build public support for lifesaving research?  If so, you are very much needed and here’s a way to get involved.  Once again, Americans for Medical Progress are accepting applications for the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach.  The deadline is coming up soon – May 15 – but you can apply online.

I was the first Hayre Fellow, and during my time in the program I founded Speaking of Research and built this website.  The three Fellows who followed me developed their own projects – two Fellows created a program for private practice veterinarians, their employees and clients that includes a website and other educational materials about the importance of animal research to human and animal health, and the third Fellow helped to galvanize support on the UCLA campus for scientists facing intimidation and violence by animal rights militants. These projects are designed to continue on even though the Fellowship term has ended.

The program is for those in the 18-30 age group who believe that they can help improve the public’s understanding of animal research. Successful applicants will receive a $5,000 stipend and a $2,000 program budget, as well as the full support of both Americans for Medical Progress and Speaking of Research. Click the image below for more details (or here).

You may use the Fellowship award to create a local or national campaign, and I hope your plans include using and developing the Speaking of Research network.  The other Fellows and I will work closely with you to help you develop your project should you receive a Fellowship award.

I have been asked by AMP to be on the committee that determines who will be the new Hayre Fellows for the 2010-2011 academic year, and I look forward to seeing your proposals.

Whether or not you choose to apply for the Hayre Fellowship, you can get involved right now by contributing to the news section of the Speaking of Research website. We need people to help write articles about new medical breakthroughs, pro-research advocacy, and the misguided activities & illegal acts of animal rights activists.

For those of you seeking to financially contribute to research advocacy, you may donate online to support the Hayre Fellowships.

The action or inaction of scientists, researchers and students will determine the future of animal research, and with it the future of medical progress – are you prepared to make a difference?

Cheers

Tom Holder

Three Young Advocates Step Up

Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) decided to fund three new Hayre fellows on two Hayre Fellowships. This is a fantastic chance for three students to stand up and motivate the people in their community and beyond. AMP created the Fellowship in honor of its late Chairman, Michael D. Hayre, DVM.  Its aim is to foster young voices to speak in support of science and advancing medical knowledge through responsible animal research.

Gillian Braden-WeissBreanna CaltagaroneGillian Braden-Weiss (left) and Breanna Caltagarone (right) are two veterinary medicine students at the University of Pennsylvania. Both have extensive experience in animal sciences and have worked in shelters, clinics and laboaratories to gain crucial insights into the importance of animal welfare.

Both Hayre Fellows will work together to start the “Thank a Mouse” campaign aimed at educating private practise vets and their clients about the importance of animals in research. They have a great opportunity to reinforce the role that animals play in the development of veterinary medicine.

Megan WyethThe third Hayre Fellow might be recognizable from the Committee list. Megan Wyeth is studying for a PhD in Neurobiology at UCLA, studying epilepsy in mice. Megan was a crucial player in the highly successful UCLA Pro-Test rally in April. She plans to use the Hayre Fellowship to expand UCLA Pro-Test, now renamed Pro-Test for Science, across to other universities in California. Megan has the passion and the commitment to become a driving force for change in California.

You can read more about all three candidates.

Dr. McConnell, a long time friend and classmate of Dr. Hayre said:

We welcome Megan, Breanna and Gillian and the contributions they will make to research advocacy during their tenure as Hayre Fellows. Mike Hayre was an inspirational leader and mentor who valued the contributions students made to biomedical science and animal welfare.  He believed the future of medical advancement depended on the public’s understanding and acceptance of animal research in medicine.  I’m confident that Mike would view the work of this year’s Fellows as essential to that vision.

On behalf of Speaking of Research, we wish all three Hayre fellows the best of luck over the next year, and offer them our full support in changing public opinion in their local communities and beyond.

Regards

Tom Holder