In a commitment to transparency in animal research, the European Animal Research Association (EARA) and Sweden's renowned Karolinska Institutet (KI) joined forces on 25 September), at an event to foster greater openness and dialogue about the use of animals in research in Sweden.
The event, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Sweden, was sponsored by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), and began with a presentation by EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, who highlighted the organisation's pivotal role in encouraging open discussion about animal research in Europe and the challenges currently faced, such as the recent European Citizen’s Initiatives that reached the European Commission.
Kirk urged his audience to work towards creating a Transparency Agreement on animal research in Sweden, similar to ones found in many countries across Europe, so that researchers and communicators from institutions across Sweden can deliver a consistent message about why they use animals and their importance in biomedical research.
Inês Serrenho, EARA’s co-coordinator of the Portuguese Transparency Agreement on animal research, shared insights into the progress achieved by Portuguese signatory biomedical institutions and how greater transparency has improved engagement with diverse audiences.
Madeleine Svärd Huss, chief press officer at KI, presented Karolinska's communication strategy on animal research and the interaction with traditional and social media, while Per Nilsson, a principal investigator at KI, emphasised his research group's openness when engaging with patient associations, and said the event “provided me an opportunity to share my experiences on communicating our Alzheimer research with animals and discuss with experts in the field challenges and possibilities on transmitting our message on animal research to the community”.
Following these presentations, a panel discussion gave insights into the ethical and scientific challenges of animal research. The engaged audience posed pertinent questions, delving into the consequences of institutional transparency, and advocated for new ways to enable the public to access unambiguous information directly from scientists, free from distracting protests and politicised discourse.
About the event, Kirk Leech said: "The discussion at Karolinska and the large turnout shows that there is an appetite in Sweden to improve public engagement and openness on animal research. EARA is excited to help the Swedish research community in this exciting project."