Tag Archives: FENS

Be proud of your research because you are contributing to human health, Spanish audience hears at EARA event

EARA’s latest event in Alicante, this week emphasised the importance of the Spanish Transparency Agreement and being more open with the public about research using animals.

More than 130 people in the life sciences community, from 10 different institutions, heard a panel of experts from neuroscience, animal welfare, and the science media discuss the topic, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Spain.

The event, at the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante (CSIC-UMH), was supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, provided the background for why there is a need to improve openness in animal research in Spain. He outlined the growing polarisation in public attitudes towards animal research, the need to provide better information to the public, and in turn the importance of the Spanish Transparency Agreement, signed by more than 140 institutions.

‘Transparency agreements bring public and private research together to work to improve openness in animal research,’ he said.

Professor Juan Lerma, neuroscientist at the CSIC-UMH and editor-in-chief of Neuroscience, illustrated the success of the Spanish Transparency Agreement, ‘this agreement has been a role model for other countries,’ he said.

Highlighting the importance of animal research, he emphasised the need for researchers to proactively communicate and educate so that this essential research can continue.

‘You must be proud of your research because you are contributing to human health. This is something we must defend and support,’ he said.

Elaborating on the need for transparency, Dr. Carmen Agustín (pictured), neuroscientist at the Functional Neuroanatomy Lab at Jaume I University and the University of Valencia, talked about her experiences of being actively engaged with the public about her work through blogs, twitter, TV.

Dr. Agustín reassured the audience on being open about their research: ‘Usually people are scared to talk about research on social media as they think they will get a lot of negative feedback, but this is not the case.’

Science journalist, Daniel Mediavilla, of El País, and one of the founders of the science and technology news website, Materia, expanded on engaging with the public.

He described how scientists working with animals can work well with the media, ‘Get familiar with the media, adapt your message to the outlet, know your media environment, and know personally, if possible, all the journalists you should talk to in case of need.’

In addition, he gave advice on how to have a louder voice in the media, ‘Emotions are almost everything, sometimes scientists have to use emotional aids.’

The event ended with a panel discussion to answer a broad array of questions including, ‘How to reach those not interested in science?’ where Dr. Agustín suggested giving talks at events which draw in those who wouldn’t normally attend science events, such as Pint of Science events at pubs and bars.

Free EARA event on openness in animal research in Spain, this October

The latest in the series of EARA science communications events, supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), will take place in Alicante, Spain, on 1 October.

Institute of Neurosciences, Alicante, Spain

Improving Openness in Animal Research in Spain is a free event (register here) and will focus on why scientists, researchers, press officers and other stakeholders should talk openly about animal research, but will not be a debate about the ethics of animal experimentation.

It will take place on the Monday, 1 October, (14:30 – 18:00 CEST) at the Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante (CSIC-UMH), and is a public event, although it will be of particular interest to those working in the life sciences sector.

Following the presentations, moderated by Cristina Márquez, Neuroscientist, of CSIC-UMH, there will be a panel discussion followed by a drinks reception.

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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).
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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