Animal Science Meeting 2014 Report

Animal Science meeting discussed the importance of openness around animals in research


On 5th December 2014, the Society of Biology and the Home Office's Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) hosted their annual joint meeting in London. Around 80 participants travelled from all parts of the UK and represented a wide range of interests and expertise; including industrial and academic research, education, charities, policy as well as animal welfare.

This one-day meeting focused on openness and the reporting of animal research. It was co-chaired by Dr Judy MacArthur Clark (Head of Animals in Science Regulation Unit, Home Office) and Professor Dominic Wells (Chair of the Animal Science Group, Society of Biology).
The first session discussed the implementation of openness around animal research – from a governmental as well as bioscience sector perspective:

  • Dr Judy MacArthur Clark (ASRU) spoke about the Government commitment to work to reduce the use of animals in research (Delivery Plan) and to promote an understanding and awareness about animal research where no alternative exist [download presentation].
  • Wendy Jarrett (CEO, Understanding Animal Research) gave an overview about the development and implementation progress of the Concordat on Openness on animal research [download presentation].
  • Dr Colin Wilson (ASRU) gave an update on the current legislative development of Section 24 of the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and explained why there has been a public consultation on the review in early summer.
  • Professor Gail Davies (University of Exeter & Animals in Science Committee member) presented aspects of social science related to the use of animals and highlighted public considerations in terms of health and care as well as the change of relations between public and private interests in science, health and policy [download presentation].

A workshop encouraged attendees to discuss important practicalities and challenges in preparing organisations and institutions to be more open on their research using animals. The panel discussion that followed focused in particular on public perception, adequate communication, internal management and the protection of academic intellectual property.

The afternoon session concentrated on approaches to improve research using animals:

  • Neil Watt (ASRU) described how the Home Office's Animals in Science Regulation Unit identifies good experimental design and where project licence applications could be improved.
  • Professor Dominic Wells presented several methodologies that would improve the outcome of pre-clinical studies for translational research [download presentation].
  • Dr Vicky Robinson (Chief Executive, NC3Rs) explained the ARRIVE guidelines and how it will improve the reporting of in vivo research [download presentation].
  • Dr Frances Rawle (Head of Corporate Governance and Policy, Medical Research Council) spoke about the revised MRC guidance for applicants and award holders of research grants involving animal research [download presentation].
  • Nancy Lee (Senior Policy Adviser, Wellcome Trust) explained the importance of data sharing in order to maximise the value of data generated from research – including research using animals [download presentation].
  • Professor Ian McGrath (Editor in Chief, British Journal of Pharmacology) presented an Editor's view on transparency in animal research and how data sharing, including negative results, could be facilitated by journals [download presentation].

The afternoon workshop captured attendee experiences in experimental design and publication issues. This was followed by a panel discussion with questions from the audience. Discussions focused on matters around the review and publication of so-called negative results as well as the need to provide ongoing training opportunities for licence holders, especially in terms of experimental design and statistical analysis. It was suggested that the Society of Biology might explore the possibility of providing relevant training courses.