Tag Archives: FENS

EARA sets out its guidance on improving Non-Technical Summaries for the general public

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) has submitted a guidance document on Non-Technical Summaries (NTS) to the EU Commission on how NTS can be made more understandable for the ordinary reader.

The details were presented by Javier Guillén, (pictured below) a member of the EARA working group that produced the guidance document, at the 14th FELASA Congress, held in Prague, Czech Republic, last week.

Javier told the Congress that as part of its strategy to improve openness and transparency on the use of animals in research in Europe, EARA has been working closely with the EU to help improve the information provided to the general public.

It is understood that the Commission will produce additional guidance on NTS for Member States using some of the EARA guidance document findings.

Every research project application, that intends to use animals, is required to include a publicly available NTS which includes a simple explanation of the project’s objectives, predicted harms, benefits and number and types of animals used. It must also demonstrate compliance with the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement).

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “We are very pleased to hear that the Commission has found the EARA working group’s observations useful.

“NTS are a small part of the overall need to improve openness and transparency on animal research, but they could be a valuable resource, in particular, for the media and other influencers who communicate with the public directly, in explaining issues such as animal welfare and the benefits that biomedical research can bring for society.”

Every research project application, that intends to use animals, is required to include a publicly available NTS which includes a simple explanation of the project’s objectives, predicted harms, benefits and number and types of animals used. It must also demonstrate compliance with the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement).

NTS are widely seen as a positive development in improving transparency on animal research to the public. However, it is widely agreed that there are a number of problems in the compilation, accuracy, standardisation and accessibility of NTS.

In November 2017, the EU Commission published its Review of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The Commission reported that there had been some progress on transparency, but suggested that further improvements were needed. In particular further work is needed on the publication of statistical information on animal use and on non-technical project summaries (NTS).

EARA identified clear opportunities to improve NTS for the general public and set up its working group in 2018. The working group brought together representatives from the user community, with a range of experts from backgrounds in animal welfare, communications and private and public biomedical research, including membership of institutional ethics committees and welfare organisations.

As an example of its guidance, the EARA working group suggested that, in the Adverse Effects section of the NTS, rather than saying what will be done to animals (e.g. ‘rats will be injected’), researchers should try to describe in everyday language what the animal’s experience is likely to be.

For example, ‘Rats will likely experience some discomfort, mild pain and bruising to the skin from being injected on four occasions’.

The members were Javier Guillén, (AAALAC International, chair), Michael Addelman (University of Manchester), Peter Janssen (FENS_CARE), Serban Morosan (GIRCOR) , Barney Reed (RSPCA) , Kirsty Reid (EFPIA) , Bob Tolliday (EARA) and Hanna-Marja Voipio (FELASA).


** The guidance is based on the current proposed template by the European Commission. Since a new version of this template is expected before the end of 2019, the Working Group may consider a future update of the guidance to make it fit better with the new template, although the opinion of the Working Group is that the main concepts of the presented guidance will be still valid.

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)20 3675 1245 or +44 (0)7970 132801

Speakers announced for free EARA event in Plön, Germany

Speakers have been announced for this year’s first EARA German event on openness in animal research.

Supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience, the event (register here) is entitled, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany

Max Planck Institute, in Plön, Germany

The event, in Plön, 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 list of speakers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, in Plön, on 21 March, 12pm-3pm CET will be:

• Kirk Leech, EARA Executive Director
• Dr. Andreas Lengeling, of EARA member the Max Planck Society
• Dr. Miriam Liedvogel, Behavioural Geneticist/group leader at MPI Plön
• Christine Pfeifle, Mouse Management, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.

It will then be followed by a panel discussion and then a drinks reception 3pm-4pm.

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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