Biomedical institutions in Portugal, in a report published today, have shown an encouraging improvement in their openness in publicly discussing the use of animals in research.
The second evaluation report of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal, (including 19 signatory institutions from both public and private biomedical research), showed that in 2021, despite the restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic, that they have continued to create more opportunities for the public to have easy access to accurate information on the use of animals in research.
The implementation of the Agreement, co-ordinated by the European Animal Research Association (EARA) is based on four commitments, the first three of which refer to the promotion and improvement of internal and external communications by the signatory institutions, and the last which refers to the sharing of experiences and results.
All signatory institutions reported some evidence of proactive communication with the public about animal research, mainly through news shared on social media. The most notable achievements of improved openness and transparency in 2021 were:
· Almost all (95%) reported the publication of news about scientific discoveries, where animal models were used, as a proactive way of sharing information.
· 84% have a position statement about animal research available on their website – last year only just over half (53%) the institutions reported they had a statement.
· 78% mentioned conducting interviews in collaboration with the media.
· 79% mentioned the organisation of open days with space dedicated to animal experimentation.
Some examples of openness:
- “Transparency Thursday” – Inês Preguiça (iCBR) and Raquel Boia (iCBR)
- Videos - Case Study- Sílvia Conde (NMS), Importance of Animal Experimentation and Animal Facility Tour (iCBR)
- Social Networks - Instagram (NMS), Podcast “Sem Espinhas” (CIIMAR)
However, there are areas that require greater improvement:
· Around two thirds of the institutions (63%) provided images of the animals used in their research, although this was an increase from the previous report (41%).
· 37% report statistical data on animal research on their websites.
· Currently, only a third of the institutions include non-technical summaries of authorised projects on their websites, leaving considerable room for improvement.
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, welcomed the report: “It is very good to see that Portuguese institutions are making great efforts to improve their communication with the public and bring greater awareness of the importance to society of biomedical research that uses animals.”
Ana Isabel Moura Santos, of NOVA Medical School, representative of the Portuguese Transparency Agreement said: “This agreement led to a change of culture in the signatory institutions, allowing the Portuguese Society to already have a lot of information available. We have scientists that are more prepared to talk about their research lines and to present their results for people outside the scientific community in a simpler and clearer way”.
The publication coincides with the global day to recognise openness in animal research Be Open about Animal Research Day (#BOARD22) with Portuguese institutions sharing their latest examples of science communication about animal research.
The transparency agreement in Portugal, including mainly universities and research centres is one of seven agreements in Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK).
In order to increase scientific knowledge and improve human and veterinary medical therapies as well as better protect humans and animals, high quality research, including testing for vaccines, such as Covid-19, requires an approach that includes the use of animal models. Scientists are required to always use alternative non-animal models if these are available, but a complete replacement of animal research is not yet foreseeable.
For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, M: +44 (0) 77 1552 5535 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
According to the latest data there were 65,966 uses of animals for scientific and teaching purposes in Portugal in 2020 – the most used animals were mice, rats and fish (99.3%).
The Transparency Agreement comprises four Commitments:
· Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how, and why we use animals in research. · Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals. · Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals. · Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.
List of signatories to the Agreement in 2022 at the time of this report (Institution, Full Name, City) CCMAR Centro de Ciências Marinhas, Faro ABC-RI Algarve Biomedical Center Research Institute, Faro CIIMAR Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, Porto FC Fundação Champalimaud, Lisboa i3S Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Porto iCBR Instituto de Investigação Clínica e Biomédica de Coimbra ICNAS Instituto de Ciências Nucleares Aplicadas à Saúde Coimbra ICVS Instituto de Investigação em Ciências da Vida e Saúde Braga IGC Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Lisboa IHMT Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Lisboa CNC Centro de Neurociências de Coimbra IPLEIRIA Instituto Politécnico de Leiria UTAD Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real NMS|FCM NOVA Medical School|Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Lisboa FCUL Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa FFUC Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Coimbra FFUL Faculdade de Farmácia da Universidade de Lisboa FMV-UL Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária da Universidade de Lisboa VectorB2B Vector B2B – Drug Developing – Associação para Investigação em Biotecnologia, Lisboa
The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information. It has 135 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 21 European countries.
EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe www.eara.eu