79th Paget Lecture and Second Annual Openness Awards 2015
On Monday evening representatives from across the UK life science community joined Understanding Animal Research at the Wellcome Collection in London to celebrate the 79th Paget Lecture and the second annual Openness Awards.
The evening began with the presentation of the awards. Winning or commended organisations were presented with unique framed sketches of venomous creatures, drawn by UAR’s Mia Rozenbaum. Winners also received glass Openness trophies.
Dr Mark Prescott, Head of Research Management and Policy at the NC3Rs, presented the first awards, for Internal or Sector Engagement Activity. Agenda Resource Management received the winning prize for its Welfare First programme which supports contract animal technicians at work, providing a much-needed community, as well as routes for trouble-shooting and whistle-blowing. The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology received the highly commended prize for its Named Person’s posters which demonstrate the responsibilities and work areas of all named roles working with animals within a facility, clearly connecting a face to a job title.
Dr Simon Festing, Head of Advocacy at the British Heart Foundation and former Chief Executive at Understanding Animal Research, presented the second award for Public Engagement Activity. The University of Leicester received the winning prize for leading an enormous culture change in openness with far-reaching impacts. Its extensive culture change, particularly in the treatment of media and public engagement with animal research, supported and inspired other institutions to follow suit. The Babraham Institute was highly commended for its Breaking Barriers project which involves the installation of internal cameras in the animal unit allowing visitors to see into the animal facility without needing to cross contamination barriers.
Sir Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford, founding Chair of Understanding Animal Research, and this year’s Paget lecturer presented the award for Media Engagement or Media Stories. The winning prize was awarded to King’s College London who invited a reporter from the Mirror to visit its marmoset facility and take photos in response to an article from Animal Aid calling for charities to stop funding primate research. The Institute of Cancer Research received the highly commended prize for its BBC Panorama: Can You Cure My Cancer? The documentary was developed over two years and the film crew were given in-depth access to the ICR’s research labs which resulted in a live mouse imaging experiment being shown in the programme.
Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government and Head of the Government Office for Science presented the award for Website or use of New Media. The University of Cambridge was awarded the winning prize for its animal research video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK78IXTRH0s as the centre-piece of its animal-research website. The video highlights how mice are used in the fight against cancer, as well as discussing animal welfare and the search for alternatives. Imperial College London was awarded the highly commended prize for its animal research website www.imperial.ac.uk/animal-research which presents detailed statistics of the College's use of animals in addition to an annual report highlighting its animal research and the rationale for why it is necessary.
The final award of the evening, presented by Professor Fran Balkwill, Chair of the UAR Council, was awarded to Fiona Fox OBE Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre for her outstanding individual contribution to openness on animal research. Fiona worked tirelessly in the early days to convince others that openness is the way forward, and continues to champion the cause. She helped to build collaborations that formed the Concordat, and has built many bridges between animal research and the media.
The awards were followed by the 79th Stephen Paget Memorial Lecture. Past Paget Lecturers have included Professor Dame Linda Partridge, Nobel Laureates Sir Howard Florey and Sir Peter Medawar, and evolutionary biologist and science writer Professor Steve Jones.
Sir Colin Blakemore delivered an excellent lecture titled ‘Four Stories about Understanding the Brain’ which discussed the importance of animal work, the 3Rs and continual development of experimental design in four different aspect of neuroscience: the cerebral cortex, language, Huntington’s Disease and Stroke.
Sir Colin concluded the lecture by discussing the importance of avoiding a polarised debate about animal research.
The 79th Paget Lecture and second annual Openness Awards was a fantastic evening and we look forward to celebrating Openness in animal research next year. Understanding Animal Research thanks all the presenters for their work, and congratulate the many individuals at different institutions who contributed to their organisation’s successes at the awards.