Edinburgh Cancer Research

Open approach to animal research earns accolade

The University’s work on communicating how animals are used in research has won a national award: December 2019

Understanding Animal Research award presentation
L-R: Hazel Lambert, Public Engagement with Research Manager; Professor Elizabeth Patton, Personal Chair of Chemical Genetics; Ken Applebee, Kings College London

An event at the 2019 Edinburgh Science Festival – where people quizzed scientists about their practices – took the Public Engagement Activity prize at the Understanding Animal Research awards event in the Royal College of Physicians, London on 3 December.

Understanding Animal Research is a not-for-profit organisation that explains why animals are used in medical and scientific research. In 2014, UAR launched the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, a set of commitments for life-science organisations to increase their animal research communications and has brought 122 organisations together to pledge to be more open about their use of animals in research. The 6th annual Openness Awards recognise the innovation and courage shown by individuals and their organisations in supporting greater openness around the use of animals in research.

Open approach

Ken Applebee, Director of Biological Sciences at King’s College London, presented the Public Engagement Activity Award to the University of Edinburgh. This event was held in a public space and was open to anyone who signed up. There was a dedicated time and space where those who were interested could ask questions about animal research and welfare. Judges praised the University’s open approach and the seniority and profile of the event’s panel. They also highlighted that there was no screening, nor prior knowledge, of the questions asked.

The joint initiative was a collaboration between the Edinburgh Science Festival, Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the University. It focussed on work to reduce, replace and refine the use of animals in research – principles known as the three Rs.

It involved a quiz, presentations and a question and answer session for the audience.

Best practice

The prize was presented at a ceremony in London on 5 December 2019.

The annual Understanding Animal Research awards mark excellence in open communication around animal research and highlight examples for others in the sector to follow.

It is really important that we are open about how, why and when animals are used in research to better understand human and animal health and disease. We invited people in the audience to ask anything at all about use of animals in research and had a constructive and respectful discussion. It is wonderful to see that recognised with this award.

Dr Lesley PennyEdinburgh’s Director of Bioresearch and Veterinary Services

This was a special event because it helped me to understand the public's concerns about animals in research. It also provided an opportunity to explain why we use animals for our research and express how we care deeply about the welfare of our animals. Openness enables us to learn from each other for the best in science and animal welfare.

Professor Liz PattonPersonal Chair of Chemical Genetics, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine

Related links

UAR award photo collage