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Promoting a more open conversation about animal research

Public, private and charity research funders, universities, and research institutes are being asked to support a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. In doing so we are pledging to help public understanding of animal research by providing useful information on the research that we all support. AMRC is signing up on behalf of all our members but charities are also welcome to sign up individually if they wish. The deadline is Friday 25 April for signatories to appear on the Concordat when it launches for the first time in early May but signatures will also be accepted on an ongoing basis for those not able to make the deadline. 

Background

Animal research is a vital part of medical research, enabling researchers to better understand disease and develop new medicines. Everyone in the UK needs to be aware this research takes place and needs information about how and why it is conducted to make up their own mind how they feel about this, and shape how this is governed. 

In September 2012, AMRC joined public and private research funders, universities, and research institutes in a commitment to work together to promote a more open public conversation about animal research by developing a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. The development of the Concordat has been coordinated by Understanding Animal Research (UAR) and led by an expert Steering Committee, which included AMRC Chair Lord Willis to represent the charity sector. Our head of policy also sat on the working group. Concordat development has been informed by a Public Dialogue project run by Ipsos MORI, and a six-week public consultation on a draft version. 

AMRC's Animal Research Working Group, composed of representatives from across our membership, has directed our input throughout the process to ensure that the Concordat is proportionate and appropriate for charities of all sizes. At our AGM in November we were updated on the development of the Concordat by Chair of the AMRC Working Group, Dr Kieran Breen, and Chief Executive of UAR, Wendy Jarrett. As well as being a useful opportunity to discuss the obligations of the Concordat it was great to hear from the panel and delegates the many excellent ways charities are already promoting this important conversation.   

What does signing up mean?

The Concordat has four over-arching 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

Under each commitment there are a series of more detailed statements explaining how signatories will meet them. With their links with patients and strong public support, charities have an important role to play alongside our partners in the scientific community. Charities are also the experts at talking to the public about medical research and many of the obligations within the Concordat are already being met by our members. Of course there is always room for improvement! Under the leadership of our Animal Research Working Group we have been drawing on our members' expertise and best practice across the membership to develop support materials to help charity staff answer questions from the public. We are in the final stages of designing these and will launch them very soon - so watch this space!

AMRC has signed up to the Concordat on behalf of all our members to signal our sector's united support. AMRC members therefore do not need to sign up individually but are very welcome to if they wish, as some already have. If you do want to sign up you may contact Dr Elisabeth Harley at UAR. Please do this by Friday 25 April to ensure your charity's name appears on the final Concordat document in time for its launch in early May. Signatures will also be accepted on an ongoing basis for those not able to make the deadline. 

A copy of the Concordat and guidance on how to meet the commitments have been sent to all Formal Representatives at AMRC member charities. If you have any questions please contact me.