Public and Patient Interfaces with Animal Research
Biomedical research is increasingly expected to be open and transparent, to translate laboratory findings into new drugs and treatments for humans and animals, and to engage the publics and patients who stand to benefit from this research. These demands have led to rapid growth in new forms of public and patient involvement across health research and clinical delivery. These innovations are beginning to open up new interfaces within the practices of animal research.
Animal facilities are opening their doors to host public tours and patient events. Patient groups are inviting animal researchers to provide updates at their meetings. Medical charities, who have close relationships with these scientists, are initiating discussions amongst their members about the use of animals. Public involvement practitioners are introducing conversations about animal research into activities that inform research priorities. Social media and short films are creating new spaces for public conversations between researchers and patients about the use of animals in their work.
At the University of Exeter, our work involves attending these events and talking to everyone involved to understand the range of opportunities, challenges, and questions these encounters create. We are using the idea of the animal research nexus to highlight the different expectations and experiences that organisers, researchers, and participants have of these events, and to work towards enhancing their value for everyone.