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Improving openness in animal research in Germany – watch the videos

The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) together with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), last year kindly agreed to support an initiative by the European Animal Research Association (EARA) to raise awareness on the need for greater openness and transparency in communication about the use of animals in research among the neuroscience community in Germany.

The first of three events entitled Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany, was held at the Max Delbrück Center, Berlin, (MDC) on Thursday, 12 July, 2018, and each of the four speaker’s presentations, plus the panel discussion afterwards was filmed and is featured below.

EARA devised the events with the aim of helping researchers and institutions that wished to be more open about the animal research they carry out. The intention was not to debate the ethics of animal research, but rather to invite a variety of speakers (researchers, policy, media) to make the argument for the need for greater openness in communication about animal research.

About the speakers
The four main speakers in Berlin were:

  • Kirk Leech, EARA Executive Director
  • Dr. Andreas Lengeling, Animal Research & Welfare Officer, at the Max Planck Society (MPS)
  • Volker Stollorz, CEO of the Science Media Center, Germany
  • Dr.Thomas Kammertöns, Institute of Immunology, Charité University Medical Centre, Berlin

Basic research: ‘as necessary as human curiosity’ says brain scientist

A leading brain scientist has made a passionate argument for basic research at a packed event, hosted by EARA, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, this week (17 December 2018).

Prof. Dr. Gilles Laurent, the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPI), said: “I do research to find out how the brain works. It’s part of human activity and curiosity and it’s a motivation to conduct science that I believe holds on its own.”

Reflecting on his own work with reptiles, rodents and cephalopods, Laurent compared current extent of human knowledge of the brain to an ant’s grasp of chemistry.

The Professor’s talk (pictured) was the third event in EARA’s Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany series, supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).


Prof Dr. Gilles Laurent, of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt

Opening the event, EARA Executive Director Kirk Leech, explained how the tactics and actions of activists in Germany had drastically altered in the last 10 years.

“The landscape has changed significantly. There is no longer violent activism in Germany, now the challenge is more mainstream.”

Thanks to a more open environment to discuss animal research it has been possible to turn the tables on the activists by simply stating the facts about how scientists work: “The same images that activists use to criticise animal research are now shown on university websites, but with better explanations that puts the research into context.”

Kirk also previewed the results from EARA’s institutional openness study, which analyses websites in Germany to assess how open they are about animal research, noting the missed opportunities of many German institutions to share information about their animal research with the wider public.

Also speaking at the event were Dr. Andreas Lengeling, of the Max-Planck-Society (MPS), Volker Stollorz of the Science Media Center, Germany, and Dr. Regina Oehler, a science editor at the Hessischer Rundfunk since 1985.

Dr Lengeling explained how MPS had worked to improve on the transparency of its animal research and to speak in non-technical language to the public.

Returning to the point that Prof Laurent had made, he said there were two main things to remember about openness: “It’s important for scientists to not make exaggerated promises in their research and they should emphasise the importance of the long-term acquisition of knowledge in basic research using animals.”

Volker Stollorz told the audience there were real benefit from being open and transparent.

“You should communicate proactively, be open about what you do and allow visits to your labs,” he said.

But researchers needed to be honest with themselves and acknowledge that there are still ‘real ethical conflicts inside science’.

“We have to be honest and not pretend everything is easy about animal research. That includes talking about the potential harms and suffering of animals.”

End

See also the other Openness events in Germany in 2018 Berlin and Tübingen.

Speakers announced for free EARA event in Frankfurt

A full list of speakers is now available for the next in a series of science communications events to be held at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, in Frankfurt am Main, on 17 December..

The free event (register here) will discuss improving openness and communications with the general public, political decision makers and opinion formers.

Hosted by EARA and supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience, the event is entitled, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany.

The event will focus on why scientists, researchers, press officers and other stakeholders should talk about animal research, but it will not be a debate about the ethics of animal experimentation.

The speakers are:
– Prof. Dr. Gilles Laurent, Director, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (MPI)
– Kirk Leech, European Animal Research Association
– Dr. Andreas Lengeling, Max-Planck-Society
– Volker Stollorz, Science Media Center, Germany
– Moderator: Dr. Emily Northrup is the Head of the Animal Facility of the (MPI)

This will be followed by a panel discussion where they will be joined by Dr. Regina Oehler, a science editor at the Hessischer Rundfunk since 1985.

Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany.
Monday 17 December 2018
14:00 – 17:00
(Registration begins at 13:30)
Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
Max-von-Laue-Str. 4
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany

Remaining silent about the use of animals in research is a greater risk than speaking out, German audience is told

An event on communication in animal research in Germany this week has called on more scientists to step forward and raise awareness.

Attended by more than 80 members of the biomedical community, a panel of experts from research, animal welfare and the science media came together to discuss the topic, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany, at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), in Tübingen. The event was supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

Setting the scene, EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said that while progress had been made in Germany on communication there is still a significant reluctance within many academic institutions, and amongst scientists, towards conducting a more open and consistent dialogue with the public.

‘If you are in public research you have to expect that the general public will take an interest in what you do,’ he added.

Expanding on the theme, Nancy Erickson (pictured), qualified vet and animal welfare officer at, Freie Universität Berlin, and a member of animal research awareness group Pro-Test Germany, reminded the audience that: ‘By remaining silent we do create a space for misconceptions about animal research.

‘If you are only communicating in a defensive mode then you are in a difficult situation. When you are proactive you can use the quiet times to build trust with the public.’ Continue reading

Neuroscientists hit back at MEPs statement

The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) has responded to the recent European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals statement on the use of animals in neuroscience, which claimed that, ‘Animal testing is inherently uncertain and is a misleading indicator for human trials’.

In its own response statement FENS said: ‘The value of animal-based research for wide-reaching scientific and medical advances, including in neuroscience, cannot be overstated.’

The statement, also backed by EARA, EFPIA, GIRCOR, RSB, TVV and Wellcome, continued: ‘While there is an element of uncertainty in drug-related R&D, the use of animals in neuroscience research has undoubtedly contributed to our ever-improving understanding of the human brain and important advances in the treatment of neurological diseases.’

Take responsibility and speak up on animal research in Germany, scientists are urged at EARA event

The German biomedical community has been urged at an EARA event in Berlin, to communicate more to the public, talk about values and explain why animal research is important, not just use ‘facts and figures’.

A panel of experts from research, animal welfare and the science media came together to discuss the topic Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany at the Max Delbrück Center, Berlin, (MDC) in an event supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

Setting the scene, EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said that while progress had been made in Germany on communication there is still a significant reluctance within many academic institutions, and amongst scientists, towards conducting a more open and consistent dialogue with the public.

The sector needed to redress the balance by talking more about animal research. ‘The public hears the voice of animal activists in one ear and then nothing from the biomedical sector in the other ear,” he said.

Dr. Andreas Lengeling, animal research & welfare officer, Max Planck Society, explained how the Society developed a ‘4th R: responsibility’ for animal research, in addition to the 3Rs (replace, refine, reduce). The Society had also produced a White Paper setting out in detail its approach to animal research.

“Explaining your own ethical reasoning is something we have found is important for scientists,” he added. Continue reading

Speakers announced for EARA/FENS communications event in Germany

Improving Openness and Animal Research in Germany – Free satellite event, Thursday, 12 July, FENS/EARA

The list of speakers for the free satellite event at the FENS Forum of Neuroscience has now been confirmed.

The event will discuss improving openness on animal research in communications with the general public, political decision makers and opinion formers in Germany. To attend please register here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/improving-openness-and-animal-research-in-germany-tickets-45287347676

  • Kirk Leech, Executive Director, European Animal Research Association
    Kirk is Executive Director of EARA, th communications and advocacy organisation whose mission is to uphold the interests of biomedical research and healthcare development across Europe. Previously Kirk worked for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and  Understanding Animal Research, the UK’s leading advocacy group on the use of animals in medical research.
  • Dr. Andreas Lengeling, Animal Research & Welfare Officer, Max-Planck-Society
    Andreas, studied Biology at the University of Bielefeld and is the new animal research and animal welfare officer of the Max-Planck Society. He is responsible for the implementation of the society’s recent white paper on animal research. His role involves the support of 30 Max-Planck Institutes in all aspects of animal experimentation, which carry out life sciences in the society.
  • Volker Stollorz, Science Media Center, Germany
    Volker studied biology and philosophy at the University of Cologne and in 2015, became the founding CEO of the Science Media Center, a non-for profit organization that helps journalists find scientific expertise when science hits the headlines.
  • Dr.Thomas Kammertöns, Max-Delbrück-Center, Berlin
    Thomas is a staff scientist at the Institute of Immunology, Charité University Medical Centre, Berlin, and is interested in how the immune system influences the process of carcinogenesis.

Event details  Continue reading

FENS Forum to discuss openness and communications on animal research

Details have been released on the session on animal research communications that will take place at this year’s FENS Forum of Neuroscience, in Berlin, 7-11 July.

Featuring EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, the special interest event entitled Communicating Animal Research: Challenges and Opportunities, looks at how neuroscientists can counter opposition to their research work using animals from activist groups.

The biomedical research sector has often been hesitant and defensive in its response and the event will explain how proactive communications, and openness on animal research can encourage public trust. Continue reading

FENS joins EARA to support the responsible use of animals in research

MEDIA RELEASE
Brussels/London, 17 March 2015

The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) is actively committed to the responsible use of animals in research.

In January, FENS joined forces with the European Animal Research Association (EARA), a communication and advocacy organisation whose mission is to uphold the interests of basic and biomedical research and healthcare development across Europe, and to provide clear information to the public.

Continue reading