Our Summer School students gave us good glimpse of the animal free future
Published on September 3, 2021
We are all perhaps looking for signs about how we will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
All those who attended our recent Summer School’s graduation event should feel optimistic and excited about the future – especially for animal free research.
I have genuinely never been so excited about the future within grasp for biomedical research – because each of the young Summer School students presented awe inspiring projects that left a veteran scientist like me astounded.
I was also inspired by the science we as a charity – thanks to our supporters – are funding.
The potential of the Summer School students’ research will surely wow the stakeholders we are working with – the science community, academia, the private sector and politicians – to enact the change we want to see and that needs to happen, namely human relevant research.
As much as we wanted a real time event after postponing the entire Summer Student programme last year, we staged the event online to ensure it took place. No matter. The power of the ground-breaking, humane science shone through from the gallery of early career scientists, who presented their projects with aplomb. Their passion, knowledge and clarity of thought and speech captivated their audience.
Reflecting on this most successful event, I am left firmly believing biomedical science is at an unprecedented point. As shown by the Summer School students, the research models and tools we now have at our disposal are so advanced, so capable, so brilliant, so ever improving, so human relevant that we now stand at a genuine inflection point. The change we seek is surely coming down the track.
Watching these amazing young researchers might have made me feel a tad old but I was exhilarated to be in the company of so many bright and keen young scientists.
As they walked us through their projects, I was reminded how the research tools and methods they use were a dream – science fiction, even – to us veterans three decades ago. Our Summer School students demonstrated just how far we’ve come. Progress has been utterly incredible.
And though it is sobering to acknowledge those few researchers who still insist that experimenting on rats, and mice, and dogs, and monkeys is a valid choice, the advance and the continued march of human-specific research should lift all of our spirits to new highs.
Because what was clearly evident at the event this week was just how effectively the new generation of medical researchers is deploying the new methods available to their science. It is young scientists like our Summer Students who will reverse decades of failure and it is through their projects we got a good look at the future.
Modern human relevant research methods will tell us why people get certain diseases and conditions, how it happens and, crucially, what we can do about it by pointing the way towards new drugs that work and which are safe – treatments and cures for diseases that have been desperately needed for so long. We will see personalised medicine, where an individual’s genes, biology, lifestyle and other factors are all taken into account to understand what’s going on for them, and what solution to their conditions can be tailored to them.
It’s clear that one day we will wonder why we ever experimented on animals. We will ask why science persisted for so long in causing so much suffering to animals to only generate data that we struggled to apply to the human situation.
And we will be left aghast as to why it took us so long to change medical research and to do better.
Our young scientists are accelerating that change. They demonstrated with clarity and confidence they have the power and knowledge to push the metamorphosis of biomedical research into the next stage – to not only help save the lives of 200 million animals used in scientific experiments every year, but to also transform the lives of the almost eight billion people on our planet looking to science to understand the diseases we all fear, for ourselves, families and friends.
Their work is thanks to the passion and dedication of our loyal supporters who want to see better scientific research and an end to animal experiments that have little or no human relevance.
Let there be no doubt that our Summer School students are proof we do live – more so as we emerge from the pandemic – in extraordinarily exciting times.
Dr Jarrod Bailey
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