From Research to Responsibility – SCIoI’s Advocacy for Transparency in Animal Research

At the forefront of fostering a culture of care in animal research, the Cluster Science of Intelligence (SCIoI) actively takes part in key discussions about ethical research practices. On 29 January, SCIoI Executive Board member Christa Thöne-Reineke represented the Cluster in a panel discussion in the conference Improving Openness in Animal Research in Germany,” where she presented SCIoI’s responsible approach.

Hosted by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), together with Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Max Delbrück Center Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin the conference, which took place in the Konrad-Cohn-Hörsaal of the Charité, advocated for transparency and informed discussions on the involvement of animals in scientific research. According to the EARA, the complexity of the animal research subject, often emotionally charged, requires a delicate balance between scientific neutrality and the passionate advocacy of researchers, and the event’s main objective was to underscore the need for a proactive approach to communication, highlighting the importance of engaging with the public in a responsible, empathetic, and ethical way. EARA represents public and private institutions, with the aim to educate and unify various stakeholders on the humane use of animals for research, providing evidence-based information to support its necessity and benefits.

The discussion, led by EARA’s Executive Director, Kirk Leech, emphasized the global demand for transparency and considered the ethical implications and societal pressures to phase out animal research, and also focused on the role of media in shaping public perception and the importance of engaging in a responsible dialogue with the public. Among the notable speakers was SCIoI PI Christa Thöne-Reineke, who also advocated for a proactive, open approach, and emphasized SCIoI’s commitment to responsible research and animal welfare in scientific studies. The conference pinpointed the necessity of a balanced, factual discussion about animal research, moving away from outdated science towards a more informed public understanding.

Thöne-Reineke, a member of the SCIoI Executive Board, and co-speaker of Berlin-Brandenburg Research Platform BB3R and Einstein Center 3R (Replace, Reduce, Refine), brings her extensive expertise in behavioral biology on the analytical side to the cluster. Her research concentrates on animal behavior, focusing in particular on the assessment of animal welfare and the cognitive costs and benefits in relation to animal well-being. In her SCIoI projects, she is committed to advancing knowledge in laboratory animal science, promoting ethical research practices, and fostering responsible communication between the scientific community and the public. Through her active participation in conferences, Christa highlights SCIoI’s dedicated stance on transparent and responsible research, emphasizing the cluster’s broader mission to integrate diverse scientific disciplines in the study of intelligence, but also to inform and educate the public about the ethical considerations and scientific necessities of these studies.

“The Cluster’s active engagement in these conversations reinforces its role in responsible research and the shared vision of advancing science while maintaining the highest ethical standards” Thöne-Reineke points out.

Image Credit: © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center

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