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.
Volker Stollorz, of the German Science Media Centre, then illustrated how damaging a reluctance to talk could be and the need to realise that science cannot hide from discussing its research.
He encouraged the audience to, “talk about your values not just facts and figures and spell out what animals you use.”
Finally Dr. Thomas Kammertoens, of MDC, spoke of the responsibilities of scientists and researchers to consider communication as an important aspect of their work and not to take for granted that others understood its importance to medical research.
“The responsibilities of a publicly-funded scientist is to do good science, teach and communicate our work.”
A further two events to discuss this topic will be held in Germany this year; in Tübingen on 22 October and in Frankfurt am Main on 17 December 2018. More details will follow.