Speaking of Research

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Speaking of Research (SR) is a US-based group which actively supports the use of animals in biomedical research. It was founded in March, 2008 by Tom Holder,[1] an "energetic young British activist who played an active role in the Pro-Test movement at the University of Oxford,"[2] who moved to the US for the purpose of setting up such a group.[3] Holder had previously been spokesman for Pro-Test, as well as acting as emcee for their three demonstrations.

Speaking of Research state their aims are to "change the tide of the controversial animal rights debate by encouraging students and scientists to speak out in favor of the lifesaving research developed with animals."[4] Their launch came during a period of increased direct action in the US.[5] Since 2007, a number of researchers from the University of California system have had their homes attacked by animal rights activists,[6] including one University of California, Santa Cruz(UCSC) researcher whose residence was invaded by six masked activists on February 24, 2008.[7] According to the journal Science, the group also aims to "[work] with public schools to counter information from groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals."[8]

Speaking of Research is jointly supported by both Pro-Test in the UK, and Americans for Medical Progress in the US. In 2009/10, its running costs were approximately $100 and paid by Pro-Test.[9] Its committee is made up primarily of researchers and veterinary technicians, including several members of UCLA Pro-Test such as Dr. David Jentsch and Dr. Dario Ringach[10] – the latter of whom publicly quit using animals in 2006, sending a letter to animals rights groups declaring "you win... please don't bother my family anymore."[11]

During "World Week for Animals in Laboratories (2008)," Holder traveled to West Coast universities including UCLA, Berkeley, Oregon Health & Sciences University, and the University of Washington to speak about the role of animals in biomedical research.[12][13]

Pro-Test for Science[edit]

The UCLA Pro-Test rally on 22 July 2009, with Speaking of Research members participating

Speaking of Research offered its support to the UCLA Pro-Test movement (later renamed Pro-Test for Science), which was founded in March 2009,[14] on the UCLA campus, with Holder playing a leadership role on the organizing committee.[14] On 22 April 2009 more than 700 staff, students and Los Angeles residents,[15] led by the neuroscientist David Jentsch, held a rally to launch the UCLA chapter of Pro-Test, and to stand up to the animal rights activists who had targeted Prof. Jentsch and other scientists in a campaign of harassment and arson.[16][17] At the event, Tom Holder announced the launch of the Pro-Test Petition, which aimed to give people in the US the "opportunity to show [their] support for the scientists and [their] opposition to the use of threats and violence. This petition, to defend animal research, was similar to The People's Petition which gained over 20,000 signatures in the United Kingdom.

The Pro-Test Petition accumulated 11,600 signatures over 12 months,[18] after gaining backing from a number of science organizations including the Society for Neuroscience.[19] and American Physiological Society.[20] The petition was signed by every chancellor in the University of California system and several Nobel Prize winners. At a second UCLA Pro-Test rally – by then, renamed Pro-Test for Science – the petition was handed to representatives from the National Institutes of Health.[21]

In February 2012, two members of Speaking of Research and Pro-Test for Science, Prof. David Jentsch and Prof. Dario Ringach, won the 2011 AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for "their rare courage, their strong defense of the importance of the use of animals in research, and their refusal to remain silent in the face of intimidation by animal rights extremists."[22]

References[edit]

External links[edit]