During this session there was a general consensus that Umbrella organisations including professional bodies, industry advocates, certain funders and learned societies, that may not specifically fund or conduct animal research (but who have members who do may). require specific training or guidance from UAR on how they support the Concordat – all were resistant to the idea that they may require more mandatory commitments.
It was voiced that such organisations can take the lead and create forums for their members to engage with and support the Concordat – some societies already have gone to lengths to do this and there was a feeling this practice should be shared and may be an excellent way to engage industry in prioritising the Concordat. It was clear there was a willingness to learn and share experience with each other.
It was felt umbrella organisations could pool resources in this area and perhaps create a forum perhaps led by the RSB and involving UAR and other organisations to disseminate good practice and also as a platform for increasing Pro-active public engagement related to animal research.
Specific items discussed was the lack of visibility and even sometimes awareness of “good news stories” relating to animal research. The attendees felt often while the ucess of a new drug or product is widely celebrated there is often a lack of recognition of the involvement of animal research in that process and a reluctance of “end users” such as the medical professions to discuss that. Perhaps building of case studies from bench to bedside would help realise that. In terms of industry engagement, we felt UAR in collaboration with organisations could help train Comms officers (and those above them in marketing) to not try to ignore the importance of animal research in this process – often in industry publishing that it was a key step is not a priority. This awareness should probably include educating fundraisers for research charities.
As organisations, we felt our main responsibilities lay with supporting our members to engage in openness in animal research. This could take many forms through to prioritising, educating, mentoring and providing a platform, but also fostering a feeling that all researchers in life sciences are to some extent involved in animal research regardless if they do in vivo work or not. i.e. people involved in the whole therapeutic journey from concept bench, animal, person, including marketing teams etc are “in it together”.
Discussion felt members engaged in research were better advocates than comms teams or office staff dedicated to this area. There could also be a role for organisations helping develop “hands on” activities to help train and demonstrate to the public aspects of animal research.
To summarise the attendees felt there was a need for specific guidance for umbrella agencies to help them, UAR should work with these organisations to facilitate a forum related to the Concordat and that organisations should be willing to share in order to achieve those aims and engage help engage their members and the public in the principles of the Concordat.