Celebrating Openness about Animal Research
EARA's third edition of Be Open About Animal Research Day (#BOARD23) took place on Thursday 15 June 2023.
#BOARD23 is a global, 24-hour social media campaign that celebrates openness by biomedical institutions in communicating animal research.
What happened this year for #BOARD23?
Biomedical institutions from around the world shared their stories and experiences of being open about animal research with the public.
EARA co-ordinated the 24-hour global campaign supported by the wider biomedical community, from both public and private research, across the continents of the world.
More than 1,000 biomedical institutions took part from 38 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North and South America.
In total, 193 partner institutions pledged their support to the campaign from 34 countries across five continents – the highest ever participation. Among these, 92 institutions provided statements, case studies, videos or other materials.
EARA member Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, invited viewers into their animal husbandry facilities through a video tour, and explained how they adhere to the 3Rs principle and ensure high standards of welfare for their research animals. Another tour by the Netherlands Cancer Institute, also an EARA member, included insightful facts about its various procedures with lab mice, such as housing, breeding and handling.
Meanwhile, The Francis Crick Institute, UK, explained how the lab of Dr James Turner uses mice and opossums in their research into sex chromosomes and genetics, and the Coimbra Institute for Clinical and Biomedical Research, Portugal, highlighted its work with animals through researcher interviews and demonstrations of animal experiments.
Other videos included Q&As where researchers answered questions about how they/their institution communicated about the use of animals in research, the challenges, and the importance of #BOARD23. Among the participating institutions were EARA members the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Netherlands, KU Leuven, Belgium, and NOVA Medical School, Portugal.
Many institutions and researchers provided statements in support of #BOARD23 on Twitter, including Giuliano Grignaschi of Research4life, Italy, and Kerstin Kleinschmidt Doerr of Merck KGaA, Germany – both EARA member institutions – as well as societies such as BCLAS (Belgium), CALAS (Canada), HSBLAS (Greece) and SAALAS (South Africa).
In its statement, HSBLAS said (see also the video): "By being open about how animals are used in research, we can ensure that all stakeholders have access to the facts and are able to make informed decisions about the value of research and its ethical implications."
To coincide with #BOARD23, the first annual report of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research (TA) in the Netherlands was published and publicised.
The report showed that there had been improvements to openness in most of the 20 signatory institutions since the TA launch in November 2021, with all signatories now having a position statement about their use of animals in research on their institutional website
Also on the day, EARA member the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) held a webinar that featured neuroscientists Christina Dalla, Armelle Rancillac and Roman Stilling, who provided insights into how to communicate about neuroscience research involving animals.
The University of Wrocław, Poland, held an in-person lecture on the advantages of using zebrafish in scientific research, which was presented by researchers Marta Migocka-Patrzałek and Magda Dubińska-Magiera, of Wrocław’s Department of Animal Developmental Biology (also of EARA member the Polish Zebrafish Society).
EARA Twitter ambassador for Slovenia, Maša Čater, presented at the Society for Laboratory Animals of Slovenia (SLAS) 2023 Conference, which took place on the same day as #BOARD23, highlighting the campaign as part of her presentation.