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Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

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Openness Awards 2016

5thDecember 2016, Royal College of Physicians, London

Dame Bridget Ogilvie, FRS, FMedSci, presented the Internal or Sector Engagement Award to the Institute of Animal Technology for the development of their Careers Pathway. The pathway provides a clear career structure and development for animal technologists from school leavers to managers. It is open about the need to improve training, and seeks to raise standards, empowering animal care staff.

Professor Chris Higgins, FRSE, FRSA, FMedSci, presented the Public Engagement Activity Award to the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute for their museum event engaging public audiences with cancer research. The event was hands-on and interactive with a public audience that were not selected or pre-arranged. The extent of planning and consideration that the initiative must have involved was particularly impressive. Imperial College London was highly commended in this category for its podcast and social media activities, engaging audiences with the release of statistics on animal research.

Karen Gardner presented the Media Engagement Award to the University of Leicester for its work with The Sun, which visited the University’s animal facilities to cover a story about how animals are used in obesity research. Leicester was professional and open in its approach, inviting the newspaper to see anything that they wanted to create a really good story. The tabloid papers represent a channel to a hard-to-reach and key audience for scientific research, and the resulting coverage was balanced and well-considered.

Many Concordat signatories now have web-pages detailing their animal research, and several had nominated their new web-pages for the Website Award which was presented by Dr Geoff Watts, PhD, FMedSci. The University of Manchester was a clear winner. Information was accessible and appropriate to a wide range of audiences, but layered and easy to navigate. The material covered was extensive and of an excellent standard, and the infographic and Q&A sections are particularly impressive. Both the MRC Centre for Macaques website and the University of Edinburgh website were highly commended in this category. The Centre for Macaques provides accessible information about the breeding and use of primates in research, communicating effectively about a controversial area and exploring the balance of harms and benefits effectively. The University of Edinburgh has an excellent website which is engaging and easy to navigate with lots of information on the 3Rs and case studies showing the breadth of research carried out.

UAR’s Individual Award for Outstanding Contribution to Openness in Animal Research was presented by Professor Jeremy Pearson PhD, FMedSci, Chair of the UAR Council, to Andy Gay. There are few people in our sector who truly epitomise the spirit of openness about animal research, but Andy was encouraging journalists and others to come and see the reality of animal research many years before the Concordat existed.  He personally suffered at the hands of animal rights extremists, but his conviction that openness and more communication are the only way to tackle misunderstanding meant that he continued to champion the cause when others were too afraid to do so.

View the programme here.