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Catch EARA at the Felasa animal science conference

EARA will have a strong presence at next week's 15th Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (Felasa) Congress, which takes place, from 13 to 16 June 2022 in Marseille, France.

EARA has national laboratory animal science associations (LAS) from three continents as members – and 13 in Europe alone. This congress represents an opportunity for EARA to showcase our global activities and to meet representatives from potential new EARA member associations. If you are at Felasa come along to the EARA exhibition booth in the Association Village.

And on the final day of the congress, Thursday 16 June, EARA will be co-ordinating the second Be Open About Animal Research Day (#BOARD22) 24-hour social media campaign with case studies, videos and messages of support from institutions and researchers from across the world.

The main theme of the congress is "communication" and EARA will be co-ordinating six sessions covering the various aspects of communications that EARA is involved with, in addition EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, will speak at a Felasa Board of Management event - Felasa Today and Tomorrow - How Can You Contribute?

Here are the Felasa sessions that EARA staff and volunteers are hosting (all times CEST).

In the digital world, communicating to the public on the importance of animal research via websites is an important way of increasing understanding and awareness of the work of the life sciences sector. Since 2018, with the assistance of the European Commission, EARA has been assessing the websites of European institutions that carry out biomedical research using animals. The website study of more than 1,000 institutions has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences and where improvement is needed.

In this session, EARA will guide attendees through how any institution can establish good practice for a long-term communications strategy, by revealing the findings of the latest EARA institutional website study. This will include highlighting the steps that any institution needs to take to put in place a robust and effective communications website platform on animal research, and also preparing for and handling crisis communications situations, such as undercover filming.

Monday, June 13, 10:00 - 11:30

EARA works with institutions across Europe and beyond offering advice and strategies on how to share information on animal research with a wide range of audiences. This workshop will invite attendees to work on their key messages, including on basic research, during the session and receive feedback on their work. The session will feature an outline of the reasons why now is the time to be proactive about communication, how to effectively tailor your message for different populations, and start talking to the media in a clear and effective manner based on the guidelines in the EARA Communication Handbook.

In the EU and some other countries, every research project application, that intends to use animals, is required to include a publicly available non-technical summary (NTS) which includes a simple explanation of the project’s objectives, predicted harms, benefits and number and types of animals used. It must also demonstrate compliance with the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement).

NTS are widely seen as a positive development in improving transparency on animal research to the public. This session will look at the overall importance and benefits of NTS and the steps taken by the European Commission to improve this transparency and make NTS more effective. We will discuss the legal requirements for the publication of NTS, the developed guidance and ways to improve content in order to help researchers explain their sometimes highly technical work in a clear and accessible manner.

Wednesday 15 June, 08:00 – 09:45

Since the 2014 launch of the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, the scientific community in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands have joined forces in national transparency agreements that seek to improve communication with the public about animal research. Through four commitments, institutions pledge to take a proactive approach in explaining when, how and why they use animals in research, agreeing to provide information to the general public and the media about the conditions under which animal research is carried out. They also pledge to develop initiatives that generate greater public knowledge and commit to reporting on progress annually.

Before the session, representatives from the agreements in each country will be sent a questionnaire asking about their experiences when establishing and running the agreements. The answers will be used to guide a panel discussion at the event. Panel members will explain what the drivers were towards this approach; provide guidance for those attending on how these agreements can be created and maintained.

Monkeys are the closest species to humans, biologically, anatomically, and physiologically. This means research with monkeys can give us more human-relevant results compared perhaps with the information obtained from other animals. Equally, because of their physiological similarity to humans, the use of monkeys is strongly contested by those opposed to the use of animals in research.

In 2022, the European Commission is mandated to carry out a feasibility study on NHP use in Europe. These pressures on the use of monkeys comes at a time of a global shortage. Since early 2020, China has banned the export of all wild animals, including those purpose-bred for biomedical research. China is the primary global source of monkeys for biomedical research. This ban has had a significant impact on the supply of NHPs around the world.

The European scientific community needs to make a stronger and more compelling public case for the continued use of monkeys in scientific research. The aim of this session will be to discuss how we can encourage and practice better communications about the use of monkeys. It will bring together researchers and communicators to help develop such a public case.

Social media is an essential way to inform, educate and unify audiences in support of the biomedical field through providing accurate and evidence-based information about the importance of the humane use of animals in biomedical research. As a pan-European advocacy organisation, EARA has 18 Twitter accounts across Europe. These accounts allow EARA to provide information in native languages, and also help us gain a better understanding of the research that is ongoing in that country. During the EARA-led Be Open about Animal Research Day in 2021 over 1000 institutions supported a global social media campaign designed to celebrate openness about animal research, with activity on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.

EARA will use this workshop to provide an introduction to attendees on how to take advantage of social media to improve openness and transparency about their work. This will be an interactive session where attendees will be encouraged to work on their key messages, and learn tips on how to effectively communicate this over different platforms.

We look forward to your support.

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