06 September 2016, No. 20/2016

Understanding Animal Testing – Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany launches information campaign on research that uses animal studies

The scientific community in Germany has launched a new campaign with the aim of providing extensive, transparent information about the use of animal testing in research. On Tuesday, 6 September 2016, the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany unveiled its collaborative Understanding Animal Testing campaign in Berlin. Working through an internet platform and social media, this campaign offers a wide range of information material, makes experts available and promotes discussion. Developed in close cooperation with researchers and communication experts, the campaign is directed to the public and the media as another contribution the science sector is making to a more objective discussion about the necessity and benefits of and alternatives to the use of animal testing in research.

“We consider it part of our social responsibility to promote not only biomedical research but also communication about it”, said Jörg Hacker, President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina which is chairing the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany this year. Speaking at the launch of the campaign at the WissenschaftsForum Berlin, Hacker underscored the scientific community’s aspiration and willingness to inform openly about its work and make the background to this issue more transparent, even when it comes to controversial and often emotionally charged issues such as the use of laboratory animals. “In the past we have repeatedly found that firmly entrenched positions on animal testing start to shift and preconceptions begin to dwindle when we pursue an active dialogue via public relations work and media”, Hacker noted. “And now we want to step this up.”

The new campaign aims to “take people’s concerns and questions about animal testing seriously and establish a foundation that will put various target groups in a position to address the issue on the basis of comprehensive, sound information”, stressed Stefan Treue, Executive Board Representative for Animal Welfare Issues at the Leibniz Association and spokesman for the campaign. Animal research continues to be indispensable particularly in many areas of basic research because they are the only way to reproduce complex processes that occur in organisms, Treue explained. It is precisely because of this that animal research is frequently the starting point for outstanding scientific findings, advances in medical care, and improvements in people’s quality of living. “The polio vaccine is based on studies that were conducted 50 years before. In the 1980s, AIDS was associated with a life expectancy of one year. Today this immunodeficiency is a treatable chronic disease”, Treue said, citing two examples of successes scored by research conducted on the basis of animal tests. The fight against the Zika virus currently illustrates the necessity of this type of research work. Nevertheless, the distress experienced by lab animals must be reduced to a minimum, he stated, adding that, in light of this, the development of supplementary and alternative methods is an important issue for science.

The campaign wants to inform people about these and numerous other aspects of animal testing from now on primarily through a dedicated internet platform. News, background information, reports, films, infographics, interviews and photos on the subject are now available at www.tierversuche-verstehen.de. Here, interested members of the general public, teachers and students as well as the media and opinion leaders will find content that has been prepared for their needs. The platform also offers a discussion forum and a database of experts which can be used to locate contacts for journalists and speakers for schools and continuing education bodies. The campaign is also active in social media with video clips on YouTube and the latest news via @TVVde on Twitter. Towards the end of the year, Understanding Animal Testing plans to start putting itself forward at public events and participating in the current discussion.

The campaign launched in Berlin was developed over the past months in close collaboration between scientists and experts from the communications industry. A steering committee consisting of scientists and communication experts from science organisations belonging to the Alliance is responsible for the work and content of the campaign. The project is being implemented and managed by a communications agency in Münster which was selected by public tender. The agency works together with a scientific consultant in this connection.

The campaign has been set up for a period of five years to start with. The financial resources for the work it does are being provided by those organisations of the Alliance that deal with animal testing-based research in a narrower sense: the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The DFG will bear the costs for the scientific consultant while the other four organisations will share the campaign’s costs for materials on a proportionate basis. The work done by the campaign is to be evaluated on an ongoing basis. An overall evaluation is planned for the third year. The decision whether to extend the campaign will be based on the results of this evaluation. 

Further information about the Understanding Animal Testing information campaign being conducted by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany 

The German-language campaign website with extensive information and materials can be accessed at www.tierversuche-verstehen.de

The latest information is also available on Twitter at @TVVde

Ansprechpartner:

Professor Dr Stefan Treue
Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Understanding Animal Testing campaign and Executive Board Representative for Animal Welfare Issues, Leibniz Association
Tel.: 0551 3851-115

E-Mail: treue@tierversuche-verstehen.de

Dr Roman Stilling
Scientific consultant for the Understanding Animal Testing campaign 
Tel.: 0251 98776-93
E-Mail: stilling@tierversuche-verstehen.de

Further information regarding the press conference and the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany:

www.leopoldina.org/de/allianz

Contacts for the media

Caroline Wichmann
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Head of Department, Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 (0)345/47239–800
E-Mail:presse@leopoldina.org

Dr Susanne Diederich
Head of the Communications Department, Spokesperson
Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH
Leibniz Institute for Primate Research
Tel.: +49 (0)551/3851-359
E-Mail:sdiederich@dpz.eu

Marco Finetti
Head of Division, Press and Public Relations
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Tel.: +49 (0)228/885-2230
E-Mail: marco.finetti@dfg.de

 

The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany addresses matters relating to research policy and funding and the structural development of the German science system. Members of the Alliance include the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the German Rectors’ Conference, the Max Planck Society, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina is chairing the Alliance in 2016.

 

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 27,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 52 Nobel Prize winners.

Contact

Georg Scholl
Head of
Press, Communications and Marketing
Tel.: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441
presse(at)avh.de

Caroline Wichmann
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Head of Department, Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 345 472 39-800
Fax: +49 345 472 39-809
caroline.wichmann(at)leopoldina.org