o   Explain why an animal model was chosen, and the drawbacks of other approaches. While scientists often discuss why a particular model was chosen, they rarely talk about why other possibilities were rejected.

•   Engage patients and patient advocacy groups. People living with disease hold particular interest in learning about new research.

•   Promote appropriateness of use of animal models within the scientific community. Regulations require justification of the use of animals.However, scientists assume a moral and ethical responsibility when agreeing to do animal research, Nelson said, and should understand that the use of animals in research is a privilege, not a right.


Mark Henderson, science editor for The Times in London, described how the media discourse on animal experimentation has changed in the United Kingdom. Ten to 15 years ago, there was a significant amount of opposition to the use of animals in research, he said, and few scientists who engaged in animal experimentation were willing to publicly discuss their research. This meant journalists had few sources for a scientific viewpoint on studies involving animals.

Henderson noted that media coverage at the time tended to report negative representations of animal research more often. These included the use of graphic images of animals during experimentation. Henderson noted that many of the pictures published were taken quite a long time ago and from sources outside the United Kingdom.

Some of the media, he noted, has always tried to portray animal research accurately, but this has proven difficult as again, there were few scientists willing to discuss the use of animals. It was also difficult to obtain up-to-date images of the work that was actually done in labs. As a result, the political climate toward animal experimentation in the United Kingdom was lukewarm, Henderson noted.

Around 2002 to 2003, a number of things came together that changed the conversation about animal research in the United Kingdom. The Science Media Center was formed to support scientists working in engaging the public.1 From a “safety in numbers” perspective, a single voice became the immediate magnet for the protests, but hundreds of researchers talking about animal research made it much harder to single individuals out, Henderson observed.

Nelson mentioned that individuals living with disease are knowledgeable about the use of animals in research and can also take part in public


1 See http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/pages/.

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