International Animal Research Association

There are many organizations out there doing an excellent job at explaining why animal research is needed and why it is valuable in medical research.

I do not need to name them here in this blog, they appear in my blog list and in my posts, as well as in my tweets. They provide readers with information one would otherwise not get or perhaps get in a distorted fashion.

Today and since a long time, there is a need to join our common voices and strengths into a new organization. One that will bundle the positive forces and positions into one unique entity that will represent all on an international level.

Increasingly opponents of animal research are gnawing away at the very objectives of animal research which are to further medical progress as an initial pillar prior to conducting research on human beings.

Although necessary many openly and quite vehemently oppose this. Their continued actions take a toll on researchers, institutions and world known faculties. A toll in terms of finances, time and human resources.
Whilst some years ago direct actions and interference were the privileged weapons of action, currently the opposition takes place in our court rooms.

With their deep pockets and a continued flow of unlimited donations, 501C charities (in the US) and similar mechanisms elsewhere across the globe, have the means to disrupt and terminate  our efforts and the many years of supplying the public with a precautionary principle.

This principle in which every single drug, treatment or medical device is understood and tested prior to conducting testing on humans. This safeguard is and shall always remain a prerequisite in modern day health care.
Animal research is also fundamental research. It is exploratory in nature and seeks to explore new ways, means or methods that further our understanding of disease at every level. This aspect of basic research is not always well understood and poses another challenge to the community because by its very nature it is not outcome driven and therefore an easy target 🎯 for opponents.

My point is that our efforts toward explaining and educating the public need to continue. They also need to grow. They need to be defended at the international level in order to continue our work and to ensure our voices are heard and are taken into consideration. Not as lobbyists but as an authoritative voice, speaking on behalf of its members.

If we do not do this our opponents will continue to paint the landscape and shape the world in which you will be an accessory of the past. I challenge you all to take on this new endeavour and avail myself to further this initiative to fruition.


Everyone has a story

Everyone has a story. Most of us do, good or bad, it doesn't matter. What matters is if you're healthy enough to tell your story.
Take my brother for example. His brain did not develop properly. His speech is impaired and his life is spent as a three year old. He'll depend on others to do what is right and so do we his family. He does not recognize his condition, so we hope although it is difficult to ascertain this 100%, at least emotionally that is. There are so many thoughts, fears and plenty of other emotions that come with this sad state of affairs that by the end of the day one can only pull oneself together and hope all the others do the same for we are not all burdened equally. Nor are we all equipped to deal with this equally.

DESPITE all, ours is not a sad story. It is just life. There are more difficult ones, even shorter ones. Therefore it is important to count your blessings and to realize how lucky you are to have an ordinary life. I do wish it to be great for you by all means however if you are being dealt a blow, there is always a way to change your perspective. None of us is meant to be eternal. Who would have the time to listen to that story anyhow?

I do find a lot of solace in medical progress and I consider ourselves lucky to live now rather than before. Not only because the home in which my brother lives is such a caring and profoundly human place where all get medical, psychological and social attention from all of the folks around them but also because I see hope. I hear and read about medical progress every day.

My story is not about standing up for animal rights. If you have read me before, you know that. My story is about those who suffer in silence, those who scream in their hospital beds and those who stand besides them, feeling guilty for not knowing how to help or assist. My story is nothing special but yours is for this is your story too. In your life, You too will be confronted with disability, depression, disorder, malfunction if not yourself, a family member, a neighbour or a friend. Then will be the time you recognize these words as if they're yours. Then your story will join mine and the ones of millions of us who value medical research not for the lives taken but for those saved or improved.

What you have to know though is that all the help and assistance we get and we all have been getting from even before our individual births, all of that  is being rejected by people who want to put animal life at the same level as ours. I fail to see and I can not understand this, no matter how much I love animals or nature. They reject the very fabric of modern day society thread after thread and want you to stop using animals period. It is a dangerous philosophical reasoning that perhaps suits some but I would rather spend my time and energy thanking all of you who conduct research, dispense health care, create drugs or cures in order to provide humanity with an everyday life and the dreams that come with it.

Share this story because it is yours too and remember everybody has a story worth listening to.
Thank you.


Regenerate, re-equip, regrow , reengineer

The bio medical field experiences some very exciting times. When it comes to paralysis, organ failure or missing limbs, tissues, there are now distinct promising approaches that will change many lives for the better.

With the use of pluri potent cells it is now possible to  imagine  that malfunctioning systems and organs will be regenerated.
We are now also at the point where paraplegics can regain a sense of touch. They are being re-equiped.
This is really sensational,  a great breakthrough for those affected, for the researchers and for society.
The third approach involves growing organs in host animals for grafting in humans.
 Finaly last but not least there is gene editing as in crispr cas9 which opens up a whole new world of possible animal models as part of our toolkit against disease, disorder and malfunction.
UC Berkeley

These are the new R's of the present future: regenerate,  re-equip, regrow, re-engineer 

In light of these promising directions it is high time that we as a society realize that this progress also builds on the knowledge gained by using animals. Not just in testing but also in basic fundamental research.
The animal part is small but it remains a key towards medical progress. Researchers around the world acknowledge this as do those who attribute Nobel prizes year in year out.

What about you? Some anti animal use organizations want to ✋ stop animal research despite the many advances attained via animal research.
Will you allow this? If not join those who speak for a silent majority and let others know why you think so.


Spread the message for hope You Can

An interesting year 2016. Not only because there is a presidential election in the US and candidates must outline their vision of the future of biomedical research but most certainly also because support towards animal research is increasing on two critical aspects.

Firstly, researchers are doing more to talk about their research and the use of various animal models such as non human primates and why they are critical towards medical progress. As a matter of fact around 400 of them have signed a public letter to endorse the use of non human primates as critical if we are to find cures for neurodegenerative diseases and more. Do take a look at who signed and the research they are involved in. I mean this is huge for those are heavy weight researchers whose opinions are not to be taken lightly. In addition thereto over 20 organizations signed the letter on behalf of their members. They are the major league of research and if these combined can not persuade you of the necessity and value of this work then nothing can or will.
Do remember there are millions of us out there waiting for a cure or a treatment and bio medical research represents hope, a means of making medical progress for humans and animals alike.

Secondly, a direct outcome of this hard work are visible undeniable results. There is a lot of progress. I can't mention all of them there are too many but they are Tangible and impacting the lives of us all. See the image below describing research achievements with non human primates as of the year 2000. On this blog for example there have been over 46000 views and my 25K tweets about research reach a growing and interested audience. One that makes the difference between propaganda and informing the public.

Think of those affected by ebola, malaria, zika-virus or hiv , think of their loved ones enduring the decline, the pains and the void once fallen to the disease. Look at this and say these disabled people, amongst whom my beloved brother, do not deserve a better life? It is not about animals or us, it is about us and animals for we all need medical progress.


Choose what you want to loose or do something about it!

Whilst there is an undeniable success with pro animal research movements there are some serious concerns out there that require further and perhaps even more attention and I will get to them in the final paragraphs of this post. Let's start off with some excellent news.

We have just celebrated the 10 years of existence of Pro-Test, a UK based charity founded by Laurie Pycroft, a high school drop out whose story you can read here in the huffington post and who defended animal research at Oxford at a time when those opposing animal research where dominating the media scene and almost getting away with bringing down what others had taken years to build: bio-medical research . He was 16 years old at the time and has now a masters in Neurosciences and an undergraduate degree in Physiology. A great story and a job well done.

Together with other groups f.e Understanding Animal Research and Speaking of Research now, they have laid the ground work of much of the information that is now available on the net and as crucially, to the media. More importantly this information also became available to those who were targets by animal rights groups thereby constituting a line of defense when time and resources are scarce, not to mention knowledge. Let's face it when your business is being challenged and threatened by massive email campaigns, live demonstrations outside of your offices or even at employee's private homes and in some cases arson and vandalism, there is little one feels able to do other than being overwhelmed. But animal rights movements weren't the only ones that could rally large crowds to demonstrate and soon enough bio medical researchers and Universities got their act together. A larger movement emerged from the shared threat and united research in a way never achieved before, one that included civil society and politicians.

Whilst the UK and to some extent other EU countries felt the brunt of the animal rights movement's rage, anger and violence, the US too would soon fall victim to the insidious tactics and brutal actions of a largely out of control movement. Disguised under the large and ample mantle of those who declare to speak on behalf of animals, activists went after researchers at their homes, voicing threats and resorting to violence and arson. Here too researchers got their act together following the footsteps of their colleagues.

Not soon enough thereafter the US put in place AETA and as you may have read in previous posts, radical animal activists have been convicted and imprisoned for their wrongful acts. Of course these people are now on their own, as their maliciously over-funded 501C movement falls short of offering them a new life since their philosophy remains the same, no animal use whatsoever at whatever price. Those who do not want you to sacrifice animals to human activities, needs or priorities do exactly the same with humans. What an ethical bunch of moralists! That is not even mentioning all of the people out there who are waiting for a cure, a treatment or whatever medical progress possible to make their ordeal less of a burden. Their families too deserve to have a life that isn't spent in hospitals or caring for their loved ones in between painful treatments. That is the hope the animal rights movement wants to take away from us.  Because lets face it without animal research if it weren't for the researchers never-ending quest to rid us of disease and disorder who is going to cure us? Not Peta, not Hsus I can assure you. Long live to CRISPR, let's get rid of paralysis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Huntington's, Parkinson, Alzheimer and whatever we set out to cure, but let us not throw out the baby with the water and continue to count on the many blessings obtained from animal based research.

Now is a good time to make sure you know your politicians including president candidates and where they and their party stand in the need for support towards animal based research. This is no time for bed time politics but real actions that will stop the eternal circle of a movement that can not accept No for an answer. 501CNOMORE or are you going to continue to accept the fact that almost a single air carrier is left willing to accept the transport of non human primates by air? Is that what we want for our society moving forward? Are we ready to loose the benefits that EARA's K. Leech mentions in his article? I don't think so.

copyright Nature America Inc. all rights reserved


Research gives me and many more Hope!

An interesting article on how animal research will help against the zika virus. You know transmitted via mosquitos as is the case for other diseases such as ebola or malaria. Animal research is much decried, rarely appreciated for what it does and mostly largely misunderstood by the general public.
That however does not mean it is useless, cruel or inadequate. You know when some say it, the type of research or results thereof, doesn't translate into human research or isn't applicable in humans they say it has no value. That is a wrong statement for through research we have learned about a disease, a virus or a physiological process or system.  That by itself is worth the endeavor. For some Hope is the only thing left in their fight for life! Let us not take that away too!

Now there is more going on behind the scene. Take a look at this 2008 article by Professor Colin Blakemore who teaches neuroscience at Oxford and Warwick Universities and is the former head of the UK's Medical Research Council. His conclusion speaks for itself: if we are to have any hope of treating such conditions (Alzheimer's, Multiple sclerosis,paralysis and schizophrenia), medical research needs every tool at its disposal. For everyone's sake, that must include animals. Today in 2016 this statement is as valid as it was when the article was written  and it shall remain so for the foreseeable future.
And as he did point out in the article those who oppose the use of animals in research are free to opt out from being dispensed drugs or treatments developed with the use of animals. Although I must say most of us, if vaccinated, have already been saved by animal research! Or as Lord Drayson has said it is time for us the public to ask ourselves the tough question about animal research Do I want those life saving medicines to be available to me, my family and friends? If yes then this research must continue to take place.

Another good read is this message by Hollis Cline President of the US Society for Neuroscience who reminds us the importance of basic research - such as in animal use research- in the drug development process. The eureka moment for drug development starts with a discovery in a lab. But basic research is also curiosity driven and therefore is able to produce unexpected results or greater understanding of biological processes. She warns that without a rich investment in basic research the drug development pipeline starves off.   I fully support her when she says that to accomplish the mission of improving human health we need to find the optimal balance of basic and translational research in the drug development pipeline and that means valuing and understanding every step in the process.
One of these crucial steps is animal testing let us not forget. Let us also take the time to understand its value and let us support it publicly. We all get to benefit from a healthy and well funded drug development pipeline.

I am not here to tell you what you should eat, wear, be sensitive about or not but as a father to two healthy kids and as a brother to a mentally handicapped child, let me tell you that in the light of the above hope I was referring to, it is by far not an exercise in futility to conduct animal research. It is a lifeline for many of us, who after years of giving care or of getting care have not given up the hope to one day see their loved ones, be they family, friends or total strangers cured from disease, disorder or affliction that has changed our and their lives forever. If that means conducting research on animals in an otherwise very regulated manner then you have my public support until the day it is no longer required. So let's make 2016 the year of public support to animal research. There are millions of us out there waiting for cures, a silent majority but not an immune one to the damages done by those opposing animal research. We have our voice and we will use it against you. Oh and if you happen to agree with me, please share this!


2016 Year of public support towards animal research !

This is not a rant nor an emotional reaction. No, what this post is about is how is it possible that research using monkeys,  that has generated results and of which 60 researchers depend on or build from is being stopped as a result of pressure by groups who oppose animal use? You can read the article in question here

According to the American Primatologists Association's Board of Directors it was estimated that terminating Suomi’s studies may affect more than a dozen large-scale projects being conducted by more than 60 researchers in the U.S., Italy, France, the U.K., Germany, and Canada.

As far as I know it is unlikely of the NIH to stop funding projects with such an international reach and impact. After all it are the very citizens of these countries, including the US, that count on the medical progress aimed for by these research efforts that are affected by this decision. So what benefit does the NIH derive from pulling out? I'd say they might even think it is a waste of taxpayers money to stop this research now.

On the other hand from the same article we have official political party representatives that have written to the NIH Director Francis Collins expressing concern about the “scientific and ethical justification” of Suomi’s research and urging him to conduct a bioethics review. Now these people have strong motivation to do so because their jobs and functions depend on voters. It is of course not uncommon for them to do so after all that is what we elect people for, to represent our interests. But are these truly our best interests? Knowing the results of the research and the fact that stopping this research will impact researchers, allied countries in research and their future generations, I would have urged them to continue, now wouldn't I ? One thing is for sure these representatives would never get my vote!

Are we in a situation where people are being manipulated and the public's best interest is being sacrificed or neglected to say the least? It seems to me that the use of monkeys in research is a cornerstone in the strategies used by those groups opposing research using animals. No matter what the benefits are for you or me, they as a group will continue its pressure on NIH to end all research with nonhuman primates. So what is there to discuss or get consensus over? Nothing. The message is loud and clear: they will not stop.

But let us not be fooled by this careless and selfish attitude, instead let us look to the future and emphasize the various scientific initiatives, Brain, HIV, Cancer, optogenetics, cures for paraplegics etc, that are all depending on animals at some point in the process. These animals are there for good reasons: they provide answers, knowledge before we start testing in humans. They are not fail proof certainly but they have repeatedly proven their value and eliminating them all together is a dangerous mistake. Excluding non human primates from this equation is as dangerous. It is is there closeness to us that makes them so valuable. Don't forget though that this research also benefits the animals as a species for the more we know about them the better we are positioned to help in case of need. Think of animal conservation for example or plagues affecting them.

There is so much research going on that is it is impossible to provide you with all the references. What you can do however is to follow #animalresearch on social media such as twitter for example and you will have the opportunity to read scientific articles and establish for yourself whether thee use of animals is warranted or not. If you are still not convinced ask yourself the question would governments allow this kind of activity if there would be no benefit or a marginal one? Think of the vaccines you had as a child, your flu shots, medical and surgical devices, all tested on animals prior to human testing. Would scientists themselves not question their use if the benefits weren't there? Finally ask someone who is threatened by disease or has been cured if the combined efforts of human and animal testing aren't worth their while?

Lastly ask yourself : since when does Peta directly or indirectly decide the fate of crucial research that benefits society now and the next generations? Did you vote for this? I certainly did not and it is time to change this. Let 2016 be the year of public support towards animal research !



Facing the truth about #animalresearch

Back in 2013 Erica Trent wrote an article about animal research and her experience as a MIT student neuroscience.
She tells us how difficult it was for her to do that what was expected of her. Obtain data from a rodent that had to be killed by means of euthanasia. She then realized how much of our current bio medical knowledge came from this emperical data and how this in turn led to medical progress. How many treatments and drugs first started in animal labs and she felt thankfull towards the animals that had been sacrificed. You can read the piece here http://tech.mit.edu/V133/N39/trent.html?comments#comments

It takes courage to do what she did. It takes even more courage to talk about it openly and face the comments, good or bad, from the public.
Every student taking these courses goes through the same struggle, although some a bit more intensely than others, yet all understand that the purpose is not to kill but to save lives.

That doesn't make the sacrifice easier but it does give it perspective. Just as when we prepare ourselves for surgery we know that we will hurt when we wake up and that there is a risk that we may not make it or things dont work out as expected but in the end it is for our good. It is what it takes to heal or cure. We certainly do not yell at the surgeon, nor do we protest at his house or start an e.mail campaign to stop him from hurting us :(!

So why do we allow others to do so against researchers that use animal models? Is this same research not also advancing our knowledge of the animals themselves?

Instead of thanking them for the benefits we now all enjoy, we stand by and let animal rights zealots treat them as garbage. What a shame!  This will not happen in my house I can tell you that much. My children know the hard work it takes to give us cures and treatments.

Talking about zealots, it appears now that the animal rights extremists are starting to smell the coffee and are wondering about their decline. It appears that animal rights isn't natural per Wesley J Smith here in the National Review.

Well it seems after all that we are getting into a good start for 2016!  Let's keep it that way and focus a bit more on donations to those who cure us rather than Peta or Hsus. They have done more damage to animal conservation than they will ever dare to admit, if they ever do. I know because I have worked with Zoo's and Aquaria - they too deserve better.

I want to mention the death of a great man Aït Ahmed, may he rest in peace. Algerians from North to South and East to West have lost a great leader. Azul Hocine lahisahel ou que tu sois


Don't be misguided! Support animal research.

Please don't be misguided, do try to understand why we as a society continue to invest in and support animal research. I do so on a regular basis for not only do I learn about new techniques, discoveries or advances but also it allows me to distinguish between facts put forward by the scientific community and the fiction animal extremists put forward.

I do want to point out that I am not remunerated to do so by anyone. My motivation is based on a need to know and the exposure to animal research at a certain point in my career. By now, for those of you who have followed me here on the blog or on twitter, this means roughly +20K tweets on the subject and almost 40000 views on my blog. Enough clues to make the point.

I insist though that you as a member of the public must understand why, when and where there is animal research. I do hope that my tweets and the links or articles they contain or point to, enable you to make up your mind or at least educate you about the subject. I do not condemn people for making certain dietary food choices but do point to those who try to stop animal research by all means necessary. In 2015 an animal rights activist, as a result of prosecution under AETA, has been condemned to prison. Read about it here. It is sad that things had to come to this but it is just; the uncompromising views and actions of these individuals result in an expected sentence: guilty as charged. This trail to jail had been announced a long time ago. Misguided , ill advised and radicalized, sounds familiar? Animal extremists cause too much damage, not just to researchers and institutions but also to animal conservation (ebola -great apes) and to those patients that are anxiously awaiting medical progress. It is not a broken record but a reality and a necessity. Unless of course animals must be born free!

From experience I know most of you now expect me to post a link to a science based article, so I will kindly oblige and refer you to Hollis Cline and Mar Sanchez as to the reasons why animal research is necessary. Dont just take my word for it, but please do take theirs. After all they are scientists who want you to understand what it is they do, why, when and where. Or you might just want to read this article and decide for yourself if monkey research isnt necessary, cruel and a baby trade!

Finaly if reading isnt your forte just watch this and decide for yourself where you want the NIH to focus on and make a donation to those who contribute to real medical progress. The investment is worthwhile for you will invest in your own future now!


#Animal and research The disconnect

The biggest disconnect between researchers and the general public is not why there is research but how.
The public doesn't know what exactly it is that research does and even less how it goes about doing so. It is true that some will do the effort of understanding or at least trying to but for a vast majority it is just not going to happen overnight, more needs to be done.


When scientists do take the time to explain then they are branded as being biased or as being in favor of research because their livelihood depend on it. In other words damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Lately however there is a welcome wind of change blowing over the research community. It is called transparency and this change is so important because it provides the opportunity to set the record straight. There are however some drawbacks with this approach. It takes multiple tolls on your resources in terms of $€£¥ and time. Whatever you explained yesterday will have to be again today and tomorrow, so be prepared.

What can you prepare for?

Prepare to face the non choice of using rodents or anything else but non human primates as animal model in research! Even in neurosciences. Take a cold look at how some were forced to leave the field and how defence came about way beyond when damage had already been done.

Certainly explaining the difference between basic research where outcomes are not known beforehand and applied research where outcomes are expected beforehand. If it is understood that we are to fund space exploration but we do not know what we might discover other than  by the simple fact of going there and learning, than the same logic applies to research. Again it is the how that matters and if you do not pay attention to explaining the how you will end up in a position where you can only research if and only if a certain outcome can be reached.
An example of this situation is the use of chimpanzees in research. It doesn't matter how very few are being used nor what discoveries in time have been achieved, this particular animal model will no longer be used in research for that door is now locked. A first step towards ending the use of non human primates in research. This door could have been kept open but by narrowing
entrance to its extreme a shut door situation has effectively been achieved.

If you are a policy maker or drafting regulations I ask that you look for similar situations because I guarantee you that similar strategies will be used by those opposing animal use.
How do I know? Simple I have seen it being used as a tactic to increase unwarranted space requirements in aviation at the EC level, in order to make the activity commercially unattractive.

For those of you in research beware of your toolbox for it too can be used against your best intentions, goals and aims. Get ready, those who suffer and are anxiously waiting for treatments , cures and medical progress expect no less from you! Thank you.


Help end the terror

In the last few months I have had the distinct pleasure of exchanging via twitter with folks that work in other animal use industries and most agree that animal rights activists are barking at anything that involves the use of animals. More disturbingly is the fact that because they want 'change' these activities according to them have got to stop. The tactics remain the same, harassment, lobbying to change laws, social media campaigns, petitions, use of celebrities and last not but least increasing use of  'nudity', often female that is. Another nail often hit upon is guilt: '' if you truly love animals, you must adopt a vegan diet and life style''.  They sound as if they are the only ones that love animals or care for them, which is far from true. 

I, on the other hand, see a lot of advantages to society and to people in the use of animals. Such as in understanding a new disease - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome MERS - where the use of macaques helps pave the way.


Or as in farming and breeding. Live animal shows too are on the radar of extremists. Take SeaWorld for example. If it weren't for them I don't think I'd ever seen such magnificent animals up close. They are doing a great job of bringing us closer to the animals and they do support conservation efforts. Farmers on the other hand ensure dairy, meat, poultry, fruits and veggies are part of my daily staple. As is the case for millions of us. It is only normal that I take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and their contributions to our lives. Since we are in February that means I thank farmers and growers in Florida, California, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, China and the list goes on. The latest craze involves going after horse carriages in New York city. The summit of animal cruelty is now opposed by DeBlasio the city's latest major. Talk about a disconnect, or is it about real estate and speculation? Care and compassion for animals is a sure bet for politicians, an easy way for grabbing votes.

As I said there are plenty of actions taking place and social media are pulling people together. Petitions are being signed to trigger change. Who verifies the identity, the age or location of those signing petitions? In the end it comes down to how many have signed and that is evidence of the rightfulness of the cause. A short circuit or a quick fuse to get politicians to act? And who says that petitions are science?  Read the post by D. Gorski as he unravels the arguments of animal activists.
What a great read!

Tides are turning, Scientists are willing to speak about what they do, how and why. As does Cindy Buckmaster here in this article. The bullies now get to taste some of their own medicine as researchers get organized and tell activists enough is enough! Don't forget to join researchers and their families February 15,
even if you use animals in another way or industry. Because it matters to all of us!  Help end the terror.



Hollywood to the rescue

75 messages on the blog and I need to draw a line.

15401 views at the time of writing 2013-04-16 09:59Am. Note that these are direct views and that since one can scroll down to read other messages or multiple posts these are not accounted for, so the figure is likely higher as is the case for numbers below.

Most read entry ? Follow the link , a post with 800 direct views this far. Celebrity attracts as does a simple yet to the point message. Airlines need to continue transporting non human primates because they are needed for our ongoing quest for cures and life saving treatments.

2nd position with 281 views goes to 50 entries is a landmark - a post about how animal research is conducted by researchers that often times have a passion for animals and humans. Their jobs aren't easy but the aims are worth the sacrifice, else they'd quit a long time ago!  Also a reflection of my own liking of birds.

3rd is Animal research in doubt with 276 direct views. The number I think highlights the state of concern by those involved in research. I have often found op'ed pieces about the use of animals in research written by researchers to be apologetic or defensive in tone, which says a lot about their state of mind and the undue pressure exerted on them. Important actors such as medical charities are looking the other way and that is not helping either.  Animal alternatives create the impression that animals will at some point in the future no longer be needed. Is that really so? 

So drawing the line I'd say that a wining strategy involves getting the public on your side. That's where Hollywood comes into play. Use high profile actors,  film makers and influential producers to get your messages across. Implement communication plans that involve social media. BE outspoken and communicate achievements and let all know why what you do is so important. I know airlines listen because they fly the same people you cure. Medical progress matters to all of us.

In the end it is the survivors, the patients saved that will tell the most compelling story of all. That of getting back their life and the invaluable opportunity of being with their loved ones!  These last words go to thank the animals that make our species so succesfull.



None of us is getting out ALIVE! By Paul McKellips

None of us is getting out alive !

by Paul McKellips

Do you remember your first trip on a
commercial airliner?

I remember being 9 years old and
walking up the leaning aisle to my seat on
a North Central Airlines DC-3 propeller
flight from Minneapolis to Oshkosh on
September 9, 1968. The event was so special
that all 21 of us passengers were dressed in
our Sunday best.

Aviation unleashed my imagination,
and the world as I knew it no longer had
boundaries. Anything was possible.

In 1978, a ‘jumbo’ jet took me over
the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and
picture books came to life as I experienced
the magic of France. Throughout my
college years, I often spent hours at the
local airport, moving from gate to gate,
just watching people come and go. With an
airplane parked outside but no ticket in my
hand, I dreamed of the day when my career
would take off and an airplane would take
me to unknown destinations.

But July of 1981 opened my eyes
to a different level of experience with
aviation. I stood at the arrival gate sobbing
uncontrollably, buried deep in a group hug
with my brothers and sister, completely
unable to comprehend that my daddy had
died unexpectedly in my arms the night
before. I was the guilty 22-year-old son
who couldn’t save his own father with CPR.
I remember landing at Chicago’s O’Hare
airport and watching the baggage handlers
tenderly remove my father’s casket, fully
aware that I was in the window watching
through the tears.

Since that July day in 1981, I look at
airports and airplanes differently now. I see
tearful reunions at baggage claim and I now
understand what’s going on.

I now see far-too-young women with
hairless heads and pink ribbons. I see small
children anchored by the faces of worried

parents as they board an ‘exciting’ flight
to see yet another specialist at a different
hospital. And I often see scientists and
researchers traveling around the world,
heading off to a conference or seminar in
their relentless quest through miles, time,
blood, sweat and tears to find the elusive
cure and the impossible breakthrough.

Illness, disease, injury and
misfortune are like the
dreaded middle seats with no
leg room. You may not get
it today, but you will; we all

I no longer board an airplane with the
wide-eyed wonder of a boy but rather with
the grizzled temperament of a seasoned
‘air warrior,’ constantly fretting about the
availability of space in the overhead bin,
the possibility of a middle seat and the
realization that my knees will enter my
chest cavity as soon as the guy in front of me
reclines. The boundary-free dreams of my
youth have been replaced by TSA security
lines, expectations of delays and the fear of
system-wide gridlock if O’Hare gets fog.

But no matter how busy I am, or how
stressed my airline connection is, my
emotions immediately snap back to 1981
when I see the familiar tears, when I notice
the bald heads and when I watch those little
pediatric wonders board early.

The airlines see them, too.

Great airlines—historical icons like
American, United, Continental, Air
Canada and Lufthansa—all do their part
to make life—and sometimes dying—just a
little bit easier for those of us in need.

I’ve seen airlines move terminal cancer
patients up to first class seats in an effort to
create a special moment as a husband and
wife check off another adventure on the
bucket list before time runs out.

I’ve seen airlines provide free “Make a
Wish” flights to pediatric patients and their
families so that a short life can enjoy a big
event at the happiest place on earth.

I’ve seen frequent mileage programs
redesigned so that air-weary travelers can
donate their miles to families who need to
travel to a Ronald McDonald House or out
to Walter Reed National Military Medical
Center to be with a loved one during a time
of illness or trauma.

Yes, the airlines run a business, but
they see the same faces we do. Every CEO
at every airline and every pilot in every
cockpit is no different than the rest of us.
They see the faces, and they know all too
well that none of us is getting out of this
life alive.

Illness, disease, injury and misfortune
are like the dreaded middle seats with no
leg room. You may not get it today, but you
will; we all will…eventually.

Yet a conundrum exists that I simply
can’t reconcile. The airlines that carry
those faces, the patients with the diseases
and their families that buckle up tightly
with hopes for a miracle, refuse to transport
the non-human primates for disease and
trauma research that might possibly hold
the future for cures and breakthroughs.

The seats are filled with mothers and
fathers and children facing the end of their
days, while the cargo compartment below
remains empty of the non-human primates
that might give those up above a new ticket
for hope.

No, none of us is getting out alive. But
maybe we don’t have to go today.

If airlines better understood the faces
looking out their windows, they might also
see young scientists and researchers with
unleashed imaginations who now face
a world where aviation may be creating
some of the boundaries between hope and
despair, life and death.

McKellips is an Author and Executive Vice President of
the Foundation for Biomedical Research in
Washington, DC.

Reproduced with kind permission of LAB Animal Europe
To view the original article follow this link in April Lab Animal Europe and flip to page 38.

36 Volume 13, No. 4 | APRIL 2013 www.labanimaleurope.com


Inner space, the last frontier?

I love science. I love scientists for they are like writers exploring unknown territory, methodologically bringing us into new realities and fascinating discoveries. Things previously thought impossible or unknown to us simple mortals. Although most of us have no problem following a writer's story, when it comes to science it is not as easy. The story must be explained, put into context, potentially linked with other stories for it to make sense, in other words vulgarized. Nothing wrong with that but so necessary, else who would understand research and its importance?

If research is not explained the results are seen here and lay people make up their minds without your input. Decisions are made without asking about the consequences for what it is you do isn't known, ignored or even worse perceived as not important, vile or cruel. You might just be the next budget cut! Still think you can afford not to write about what it is you do, how and why? Will research be the next victim of NIMBY?

Yet research is and always has been the last frontier. Research looks for clues and attempts to answer questions. One such last frontier is inner space, like that found in our brains and the functioning thereof. Our most magical and yet least understood organ. Believe it or not, it is through the use of animals such as amongst others, worms (Caenorhabditis elegans), fruit flies (Drosophila), dogs (yes Beagles usually), rats and mice as well as non human primates, that progress is made. If you are following 'personalized medicine' and the need for better more effective treatments you realize that animal research will continue to be a critical part in the search for answers.  As is the case here in our fight against Malaria.

Image courtesy of Understanding Animal Research

Coming back to the brain's functioning this article explains how neuroscientists rely on rat studies , or default to rat studies as one understands later on, to  understand basic mechanisms.  As importantly the article underlines the importance of this research towards those that are paralyzed or missing limbs.
Particularly for individuals who have lost a limb or been partially or fully paralyzed, this work is a critical pursuit with potentially life-changing results — enabling such amazing biotechnological advances as the development of a brain-computer interface for controlling prosthetic limbs.
And warns us of the importance of other animal models such as chimpanzees and other non human primates in the paragraph called Ethological considerations (quoted below).
Image courtesy of Understanding Animal Research

Without an abundance of human subjects, scientists' next-best option for research is our closest relative, the chimpanzee; but since primate research is highly restricted, controversial, and prohibitively expensive, scientists often turn to studying other model organisms such as the rat. In many instances, data obtained from these model organisms can be translated to primate models and then to humans; but in such cases, scientists must make certain ethological considerations to ensure the validity of their conclusions.
If you or a relative of yours is affected by a disfunctioning , disease or disorder of the brain - in this regard did you know there are  more than 400 neurological disorders - you may just want to get active and voice your ongoing support towards animal research for medical progress hinges on it.

The least one can do is to sign the petition to make sure our scientists such as Jared Smith and Kevin Alloway continue to explore our inner space and to push the borders of this frontier for the benefit of those affected by Parkinson's, Alzheimers, those that are paraplegic or suffer from spinal cord injuries, have lost a limb etc... you get it the list is way too long and the needs so pressing! You can also join associations such as Americans for Medical Progress,  Canadians for Health Research or similar orgs around you to donate and support their activities.

As always and on behalf of a silent majority, thank you Jared and thank you Kevin. May the force be with you!



3 ways of dying

Dying with Alzheimer's is not a choice one makes.

Numbers have it that 13.8 million Americans will have Alzheimer's or some form of dementia by 2050. Currently that number is 5.2 million.
These aren't my numbers, I read them here on NBC's news blog. That is only for one country, the US.

Interestingly the FDA has a proposal out for comments to lower the bar on approving drugs for early stage of Alzheimer's Disease to treat people early before irreversable damage is done. This has caught the attention of the New York Times in this editorial. According to the article there is
no cure to Alzheimer's, in fact current drugs on the market only slow down the deterioration for some time.
The comments section of the article is really worth a read because people express how they or a close relative are affected by the disease. How their lives have changed, how useful it is to plan ahead and the value of having paid for medical care. As importantly are the comments towards accepting to lowering the bar towards FDA approval because we all want a cure even when we dont know the side effects of a potential cure or treatment. A lot of the comments come from elderly people or from those that have had a parent or other close relative affected by the disease. All agree to say that it is a terrible disease wether on drugs or not. Some if affected would enroll into clinical trials in a heart beat!
On the other hand FDA should also ask a high level of proof towards drug efficacy and safety, prior to allowing patients to be administered treatments. Sounds like sell your cake and have it too?  Maybe but in my opinion not incompatible aims. Wasn't the same done for AIDS/HIV ? Only time will tell, or will it be research? Guess where my support goes. Also time to tell our children why certain things such as animal research take place.

Another way of dying is by means of extinction. As above this is an unlikely choice. No one wants to go extinct obviously. Yet it happens. An inability to adapt or change to a new or changing environment. Over-exploitation by a predator for example, usually humans, or the consequences of an asteroid or comet impacting earth, a volcano that clouds the skies for weeks or months. Some want to repair or change the fate of those that disappear as one can read in this article. I don't know if this is really a good idea, restoring the past or recreating it for a present day environment. Sure research can help. Should we not nevertheless preserve habitat or change our attitudes towards preserving habitat? No use re-introducing wild life if there's no habitat for it.
Mass extinctions can also be the result of disease or plagues. These affect animals and humans. Research may find answers from those species and organisms we preserve and help all to thrive in the spirit of biodiversity and sustainable use.

Building knowledge through the sacrifice of animals, finding cures, treatments, food and clothing is most likely the hardest endeavour for mankind because we are aware of  what it takes.  Perhaps the early realization thereof has gotten some of us to think about good or bad, life and death, the need to thank those sacrificed, as it - the need to survive through killing animals - has been there from the start.  As we collectively try to make the world a better place it is worth our time to realize how we have gotten where we are at now, what it has taken and what it will continue to take, the sacrifice of animals for our collective survival. Unless as some suggest the world goes vegan (no offense to vegetarians) or animal sentiency (no offense to animals) primes human needs.  Neither of the three ways of dying is choosen, yet the last way, I think stands out for us all because it is by far the best way of using death to our common advantage in our quests to survival and saving or improving lives.



Lab Animal Europe , Faster cures and Recherche Animale

Lab Animal Europe | Volume 13, No. 2 | March 2013

Pleased to share with you my latest article that appeared in the March issue of Lab Animal Europe.

The reason why animal research matters is because we all need cures ! For Some Time = Life. For others animal research needs to be stopped!

Take TWO minutes of your time to listen to those for whom medical research and progress really matters.

Et pour mes amis francophones de par le monde, voici la fabuleuse histoire de James ou comment expliquer la naissance d'un médicament qui un jour peut-être sauvera des vies. Un processus qui inclut la recherche animale, of course! Pour ceux qui souhaitent lire les avancées médicales obtenues par la voie de la recherche animale, veuillez suivre ce lien et découvrir le site recherche-animale.org


Paralysed woman moves robot with mind and some help from NHP+pigs!

Always amazed when I read about animal research contributions to improving our lives or in helping us detect impacts on our health.

Here's two examples, one of which I included the video thereof in the 'worth a view' page of my blog:

  1. Brown University creates first wireless, implanted brain-computer interface  
  2. BPA may affect developing brain by disrupting gene regulation - Duke University 

Actually the smile on the wheelchair bound woman is worth so much I can hardly put words to it. I do hope however that those of you who are involved in animal research find some solace against all the hardship others bring onto you. As always you have my heartfelt thank you!

To many, research means hope! To others it is described as torture, cruelty, useless and the list goes on. I have said and wrote this before: animal research is not a zero sum equation. No, animal research is about medical progress we all benefit from. Here's one on asthma and the use of mice.  An article about a molecule that could lead to better drugs for millions.

Young students in the US are grasping the importance and necessity of animal research  more easily as you can find out here on this wonderful blog called Curious Young Writers:
A collection of high school student stories featuring uncommon animals that are helping researchers find better answers to some age-old health questions.

Read their latest post called Chinchillas: Todays Heroes!

And if you do agree with me - take two minutes of your time and sign my online petition towards medical progress through science and animal research. For your voice matters, it must be heard and counted!



Animal research in doubt

There is a buzz going on about a recent article in the New York Times that deals with mouse models and their validity as models in some disease research. You can read the article here.

Scientists are quickly pointing out that the use of a single inbred mouse strain as was the case in this study, is not representative. Furthermore it is known that certain inbred mouse strains are resistant to septic shock, whereas others are much more susceptible. So yes the use of a certain inbred mouse strain in one study failed to translate into medicines for mankind and illustrates the limits of this particular strain for a given research or disease, however in my mind the article also reminds us of the importance of choosing the adequate or most valid animal model for a study. If I am not mistaken certain countries demand the use of two different animal species in studies such as for example rodents and primates. I now better understand the logic behind such a policy.

For a further in depth look at the article and its shortcomings, read this piece below. http://community.jax.org/genetics_health/b/weblog/archive/2013/02/13/why-mice-may-succeed-in-research-when-a-single-mouse-falls-short.aspx

All of this to say that in Science there are questions and it is only in attempting to answer them that discoveries and shortcomings come to light. Obviously Peta has a different take and calls the whole exercise a waste. Oh wait a minute if you are a firefigther and victim of skin burn, an unlikely incident for Peta staff writing from their cozy offices, I guess having a cure or treatment available is not important nor valuable, just let them people suffer! Animals aren't ours to experiment on.

Talking of animal research and its benefits I invite you to read this piece by Denise Beckfield whom says that whilst she opposes animal cruelty in research she benefits from it through surgery and medication.
Paralysed people too hope to one day find the use of their limbs back. Here's what's happening in research to assist those afflicted.  And here too http://ht.ly/hQY2D , or if you prefer the video click below. Still convinced that animal research is a waste?



Protecting the public - Do no harm

Speak up and act for medical progress

Airlines play a critical role in vaccination campaigns for they transport many of the vaccines that are manufactured worldwide. It doesn't matter where it is manufactured chances are that at a certain point because of a disease outbreak and local supply doesn't suffice, medication will have to be brought into a country. There's plenty of examples that come to mind such as SARS or H1N1. A lot of temperature controlled drugs too end up flying in the bellies of aircrafts.

All of these medications need to be tested though, both in humans and animals. Of course I strongly disagree with those that say animal testing is not necessary or outdated because a solid public health policy needs to be supported by scientific facts and evidence. This testing is true also for new medical procedures and medical devices. A public health policy also requires the funding of fundamental research at Universities, public institutions and private initiatives because as concerned citizens we all require medical progress not only for ourselves, our friends and relatives but for the overarching aim of protecting the public at large and finding cures to diseases that claim many lives. It doesn't matter who you are, where you live nor what the color of your skin is, health care is based on a sound public health policy. This policy should not be affected or impacted by email campaigns by non governmental organizations that oppose animal use and therefore seek to stop the transport of animal models such as non human primates.

 Perhaps to come back to vaccination campaigns, graphical illustration of the results of vaccine use in the US might be more appropriate to illustrate the above facts!

Besides supporting public health policy one also needs to understand the critical role in funding research (animal based or not) by listening to the institutions affected. As is voiced here for Emory University by Raymond J. Dingledine, Dean for Research in Medicine.

Medical progress is not achieved by chance. It takes a lot of people and effort for it to happen and to one day perhaps save your life, if that is not already the case since most of us are vaccinated against major diseases. So please do remember that whilst you may think having drugs or treatments available at your local drugstore or hospital is normal, there are many things going on on your behalf to ensure you have the protection or treatment you need.
Do not let those that oppose animal use ruin this global worldwide effort that benefits us all.


Animal Legal Defense Fund  Action Alerts target airlines

Animal Legal Defense Fund : Action Alerts

Looking for a cause involving animals? ALDF has it up and running on their web site.

What does it mean for Airlines? Well click on the link under 'Animals on Airplanes need your help' and you will end up at Regulations.gov to submit a comment to a docket by the US DOT on a proposed rule regarding reports by air carriers on incidents involving animals during air transport.

Here's the link if you want to avoid visiting ALDF

I did have a previous post on a similar issue with service animals and the US DOT, however this time around it is the general public that is made to believe that Airlines kill your pets or that they loose large numbers of animals, or mistreat them whilst in their custody (remember the BUAV cargo cruelty campaigns). The facts however are different as the reports have demonstrated.

The time has come to pull the plug on needless red tape! Whilst the public has a right to know, it is now clear that Airlines do an excellent job in moving animals safely and with extreme care. As is the case with non human primate movements, the Airlines can decide to stop transporting animals including your beloved pet. Airlines have been deregulated a long time ago therefore commercial decisions  apparently  involve excluding certain animals from one specific shipping community such as research as we have seen at Air Canada and United.

Irony has it that certain carriers spend a lot of money on equipment carrying horses, whereas with monkeys no such investment is required. It's just a question of policy I guess and of being politically correct!

Nevertheless as it has been said before by many and at various levels of society:


and there is support towards the continued movement of lab animals for research ! Read this op-ed piece by Michael Goldberg and Larry Swanson, both are members of the US National Academies of Sciences and University professors.

And if you want to give your hard earned money to protect animals or the environment please do think twice. Evidence has it that your money may just go to killing the very animals you thought you were trying to help as my colleagues at Speaking of Research found out for you!

In the meantime as you probably need to refocus on why all of this animal research does take place,
read this blog post about a mother and her son finding out about Autism.


Growth factor aids stem cell regeneration after radiation damage

Growth factor aids stem cell regeneration after radiation damage


Above please find two well written articles, each one illustrating the use of animals in research and how animal research contributes to medical progress. And at the bottom take two minutes and have a thought for Reg Presley- The Troggs, whom lost his battle against cancer.

Those opposing animal research remind me of those that oppose vaccination.


I think there is an overwhelming majority (silent that is) of people out there that understand the need for animal research. Charities should be more forthcoming  about animal research as is suggested here in this article by Tom Holder of speaking of Research.

When disease strikes is perhaps not the best time to find out how your drug or treatment came about to be, however we should all take some time to think about it and realize how much is being done to keep you , your relatives or friends alive or to improve your life. Let's not take this for granted.

I did look at all I and my family have benefited from in terms of medical care and progress.  So my blog is just a little contribution and thank you to those that day in, day out are dedicating their time and efforts to save us all, animals and humans!  The list of those to thank is so long, suffice it to say that these words are there for you  as long as these pages don't disappear. I do hope my airline colleagues will follow me in supporting medical progress and perhaps cease imposing restrictive policies that hinder the search for cures!

!!! THANK YOU !!!

R.I.P Reg Presley - let's win the battle against cancer.



Say No to NHP Air Transport Ban

Campaign: Say No to Air Transport Ban of Non Human Primates destined for research

As a result of the Air Canada decision to ban non human primates destined for research, the Canadian Society for Neurosciences asks you to let Air Canada know you support research and the removal of the ban.
You should know that neuroscience researchers study to understand and find cures for important diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This valuable research and the researches involved, as well as millions of patients waiting for cures, are affected by this decision. Alternative means of transport, by land or sea, are more stressful on animals and therefore less humane. Animal research is important to all of us and it is closely regulated in Canada.

Here's what you should do:

Posted below is a letter you could copy/paste and send to the President of Air Canada, Mr. Calin Rovinescu. You should consider personalizing your letter by indicating whether you are a researcher, a person who flies with Air Canada on a regular basis, a member of their rewards program, a person who benefits from medical research innovations, a physician who sees the benefits of research in your practice, or any other information you may find relevant. Make sure to sign your full name and to include complete contact information.

To: Mr. Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO of Air Canada

Dear Mr. Rovinescu,

I was troubled to learn that Air Canada has recently decided to halt transport of non-human primates for use in biomedical research. I urge you to reconsider this position, as animal models, including non-human primates, are essential to advancing our understanding of diseases and disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis that could lead to treatments and cures of these devastating conditions. Misinformation, spread by “animal rights” extremists, threatens to hinder research efforts, and must not be allowed to affect policy making in important Canadian companies such as yours.

The significant role that animal models play in lifesaving research is undeniable. Almost every major medical advance in the last century was made possible by carefully regulated, humane animal research. In Canada, the Canadian Council on Animal Care is responsible for setting and maintaining standards for the ethical use and care of animals in science in Canada, and institutions review all animal research to ensure the protection of the welfare of animals used for research purposes. Studies using animal models follows strict ethical guidelines. Airline transportation, provided by companies such as yours, ensures that laboratory animals are available for lifesaving biomedical research in universities, hospitals and research centers.
Highly vocal animal rights extremists are attempting to halt all research which involves animal models, and to sway public opinion in their direction. These people represent a very small number of individuals, much less than the millions who are dependent on the discoveries brought about by humane, well-regulated animal research – not to mention the tens of thousands of scientists who rely on air travel to attend scientific conferences and to conduct their research.

I hope that your personal commitment to advancing science, exemplified by your recent membership in the McGill University Health Research Center Board of Directors, will be reflected in policies at Air Canada that will allow important scientific research to move forward.
Name (First and Last)
Contact information: Email, Full mailing address.
Likewise please contact United's CEO Jeff Smisek, to let him know your support to animal research and the need for continued Air services and uplift for Non Human Primates. Here's what you can say- please personalize your letter and add your contact details when sending. For an automated version follow this link.
If you are not a US resident: please email the CEO directly by copying and pasting the letter below into your email program and sending it to jeff.smisek@united.com. And don't forget to let advocacy@sfn.org know that you sent a letter.

Message Recipients:
Mr. Jeff Smisek, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines
Subject: Please consider changing your animal transport policies
As a scientist, I was troubled to learn that United Continental has decided to halt shipment of non-human primates for use in biomedical research. If that is the case, I urge the airline to reconsider its position. Animal models, including non-human primates, are essential to advancing our understanding of and eventually finding cures for diseases and disorders like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury. If "animal rights" extremists continue to sway airlines in the direction that your company is taking, the effects will be devastating.

Airline transportation ensures that laboratory animals are available for lifesaving biomedical research. Universities, medical and veterinary schools, and research centers are all dependent on your airline to continue their groundbreaking research. A small but vocal group of animal rights extremists have been pushing this issue in their attempts to halt all research which involves animal models. Their numbers are dwarfed by the millions who are dependent on the discoveries brought about by humane, well-regulated animal research – not to mention the tens of thousands of scientists who rely on air travel to attend scientific conferences and to conduct their research.

The significant role that animal models play in lifesaving research is undeniable. Almost every major medical advance in the last century was made possible by carefully regulated, humane animal research. Animal research around the globe is heavily regulated, as it should be. In the U.S., federal, state, institutional, and community review protects the welfare of animals used in research. Scientists involved with animal research understand they must use animals appropriately and humanely, using as few animals and as many alternative techniques as possible to achieve reliable results.

In your position on the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Science and Industry, you have demonstrated a clear commitment to the value of scientific innovation. Progress in biomedical research requires the use of animal models – including non-human primates. We hope that your personal commitment to advancing science will be reflected in policies at United Continental that will allow important scientific research to move forward.