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.