Improving Openness and Animal Research in Belgium – Free event, Friday 20 November, 2-4:30 pm CET
The European Animal Research Association (EARA) and KU Leuven, with the support of FENS and the Society for Neuroscience, invite you to discuss how to improve openness in communications about animal research with the general public, political decision makers, and opinion formers in Belgium.
You can register for the online event here.
This workshop is offered to those working in the life sciences sector and is designed to support researchers, communications staff and institutions that wish to be more open about the animal research they carry out. The focal theme of the workshop is to discuss why scientists, researchers, press officers and other stakeholders can and should talk about animal research; it is not a debate about the ethics of animal experimentation.
Openness in the public debate on animal research has been increasing in many European countries and research institutions. However, there is still significant reluctance within many academic institutions, and amongst scientists, towards conducting a more open and consistent dialogue with the public. Many scientists are still afraid that speaking more openly about their research and their motivations will make them targets, while others lack the confidence to put the case for animal research to what they view as a sceptical public and a potentially hostile media.
The discussion is relevant for members of institutions that are involved in animal research - directly or indirectly - and are currently hesitant to speak out in the media or to participate in public engagement activities. We hope that this workshop, and those hosted by EARA in other countries, will help to kickstart a cultural change and support research institutions to handle this issue constructively.
Professor Peter Janssen, KU Leuven and EARA Board member
Peter Janssen (MD, PhD) is a full professor in Neurophysiology at KU Leuven, Belgium. His expertise includes single-cell recordings, microstimulation, reversible inactivation and functional imaging in nonhuman primates, and invasive recordings in humans. He has obtained a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant (2010-2015), He was the chair of the Department of Neurosciences from 2016 to 2020, the chair of the Leuven Brain Institute from 2018 to 2020, and a member of CARE since 2016.
Kirk Leech, Executive Director, European Animal Research Association (EARA)
EARA is a communications and advocacy organisation whose mission is to uphold the interests of biomedical, and other life sciences, research and healthcare development across Europe. Previously Kirk worked for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and Understanding Animal Research, the UK’s leading advocacy group on the use of animals in medical research.
Professor Jef Arnout, KU Leuven
Professor Arnout is Professor Emeritus of Cardiovascular Sciences, former manager of the Biomedical Sciences Group and former Director of Laboratory Animal Center of KU Leuven. He was very much involved in the earliest local transparency and openness initiatives at the institution. Currently he is still spokesperson and president of the Reflection Group about animal experimentation at KU Leuven.
Dr Liesbeth Aerts, Infopunt Proefdieronderzoek
Dr. Liesbeth Aerts trained as a scientist working in the field of neurodegeneration. She now works in science communication at the VIB – KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research. She is co-founder of Infopunt Proefdieronderzoek, an award-winning communication platform on animal research in Flanders.