This page is dedicated to the voices of people acknowledging the necessity of animal research. By reading their personal accounts, you will find that each contributor has a unique perspective on animal experimentation. Their reasons for support are as various as the collection of people themselves. For instance, a doctor may agree with the need for animal research because he feels that his practice would not be as beneficial for patients without it. Or, a scientist may agree with the need for animal research because he has personally invested effort into the development of alternative methods that would not be possible without first animal experiments.
Pro-Test Germany wanted to provide a platform where people could voice their opinion to the public and share a side of the story that is not so often heard. This page will be continuously updated as more testimonials are reviewed and accepted by people all over Germany, and across the world.
Read their personal accounts and experiences to help you gain insight into the many reasons why people are in favor of animal experimentation for scientific progress. These individuals have something to say! Whether you yourself are a scientist, doctor, clinician or none of the above, you may find a way to relate, and also contribute your own voice as well.
Let your voice be heard!
“I was aware of the importance of that work and that the respective questions could not be answered using non-animal alternative methods. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be the one to do it.” – Lars Dittrich
“In the end, these are personal questions, and moreover, questions that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. I am glad that my work forces me to face these facts day by day.” – Paul Töbelmann
“I don’t want to lose my mind as I grow old and lose the ability to recognize my children when they will pay me a visit. For this reason I chose to conduct research in life sciences, more precisely, in neuroscience.” – Joachim Bellet
“Those who are fundamentally against animal experiments and block them – be it by means of demonstrating or attacking scientists in their work, or through absurd or unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles – kill not only children and adolescents alike but also their parents and other adults equally.” – Hans-Georg Rammensee
Postdoctoral Researcher at DZNE Bonn | Pro-Test Germany
Early on, I have been fascinated by the idea that our consciousness, our Here and Now, our memories, and plans for our future, are all created by biological and chemical processes in our brain. Soon I realized that I wanted to study und understand how the brain works. In my diploma thesis (equivalent to MSc), I was suddenly confronted with the fact that this knowledge comes at a price. Now, I wasn’t studying facts from text books or the occasional animal preparation anymore, but I had to put down a frog with my own hands to study its brain tissue in vitro. Every week. I was aware of the importance of that work and that the respective questions could not be answered using non-animal alternative methods. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be the one to do it.
I still think these are two completely distinct questions. After long pondering, I decided I wanted to be the one. The exploration of the brain is my passion. Research is not routine work. I understood that everyone who carries it out with passion can contribute things that are not easily contributed by someone else. So I followed up with a PhD in neurobiology. I have never regretted this decision.
Today, I investigate how the brain can switch between the states of wake and sleep, and why it is doing that at all. To that end, I work with transgenic mice. I hope that my results will one day benefit people with sleeping troubles, including patients with the rare condition fatal familial insomnia.
PR Spokesperson | Pro-Test Germany
First things first: I do not perform animal research myself. After all, I used to be a historian. Until a few years ago, I was happily doing research on rituals of power and social behaviour of the nobility in the late middle ages. Now I do science communication and public outreach for a neuroscience institute, at which most projects work with animal models. To top it off, I participated in the foundation of an initiative that openly says it is „pro test“. So what am I even doing here? And what does this have to do with me?
Well, leaving aside that I’m into this whole communication thing, and that everything about this institute is exciting, and that I actually love my job: I probably could have found some other place to work. It’s not as if public outreach was a small field. I could have looked for a workplace where all those things that pop up here don’t come up: a difficult topic, even personally; people as passionate and vocal as so many who are opposed to animal research seem to be; highly abstract yet very salient ethical dilemma.
But the questions surrounding animal research haven’t let me go. In some respect, it has become the core issue of my work: if I couldn’t morally support what happens at my institute, then I obviously couldn’t very well communicate it to the public. If I had arrived at the conclusion „No, we can’t do this, even if in ten or twenty years humans will profit from it, we must not breed, keep, train, operate and kill animals for any reason!“ – then I would have resigned my position, as this job would have been the wrong one for me, and I the wrong person for this job. But this job has also done something for me: it has forced me to intensively debate my own moral code. In the end, to me it boils down to two questions:
- Is a human being worth more than an animal to me?
- Where do we draw the line? And according to what, numbers, species, amount of suffering?
The first answer, to me, is a resounding „yes“. Yes, a human being is always worth more to me than an animal. I would rather save even a convicted, unrepentant murderer from a burning building than a dog or a cat. This is based on a fundamental conviction that I can neither explain nor reason about. It’s just there like a belief in god or the love of another person.
But it is the second question that makes things difficult for me. If ONE human is more important to me than an animal – what about a very large number of animals? Does it make a difference to me whether we’re talking about flies or mice or monkeys? And also: How do we compare the suffering of animals with that of human beings? Which amount of suffering in a human will justify which amount of animal suffering to mitigate?
For a long time, I fiddled with criteria, absolute statements, benchmarks, but I have to admit: all this hasn’t helped at all. I am so glad that I don’t bear legislative or execute responsibility with regard to these questions! In my opinion, it is simply not helpful to apply numbers or scales to this kind of things. In the end, these are personal questions, and moreover, questions that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. I am glad that my work forces me to face these facts day by day.
I hold animal research to be often useful and ethically justifiable – but not in every case. I feel that norms and legal control and bureaucracy are indispensable here, in principle. Benchmarks, catalogues of hard numbers, fixed criteria are necessary for this. Yet individuals cannot provide these from their own moral compasses. Therefore, I am convinced that all of us, scientists and laypeople, those in favour of animal research and those opposed, everybody including those who were not involved in the debate so far, need to talk about animal research.
Neuroscientist | Pro-Test Germany
I’ll first start with a short recount of the early days of Pro-Test Deutschland. Before I got into Twitter, HTML coding or mass text translations. The whole idea began to manifest after a visit by Kirk Leech, public EARA speaker (European Animal Research Association), to the CIN (Center for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen). His talk on animal research and those animal activists was truly insightful, and I think it gave us “grass-roots” people the push we needed to finally get out there and do this. Imagine – the chance to speak openly about your research. As a young researcher, it’s a shame that I even felt like this so early in my career.
The feeling was like sitting next to a stranger on an airplane and avoiding that most common question of all: “What do you do for a living?” Well, if I had to give an answer from the days before PTD, it would be yes, I work with animals to advance scientific aims. And yes, I’m afraid to tell you out of fear of judgement and the inability to appropriately defend my position. Maybe I wasn’t the only scientist who felt like they were going into the line of public fire when it came to speaking about job responsibilities. It’s not like they taught me how to defend animal research in college. It was this feeling of being unprepared – and I hate feeling unprepared!
Skip ahead to 2016, almost a year after Pro-Test Deutschland was founded and I am a new person. When I sit next to that person on the airplane now, I am ready to educate. It took me not too long to realize the biggest problem here is that not enough people are educated on facts about animal research. The public hears too much of the emotional activist group and not enough of the actual science. But we can’t blame the public! How often are scientists making a ruckus on the streets? Hardly never!
This is the second part to the big problem. We should all be trained on this topic and get ready to speak out on the prevailing truth. What I like most about Pro-Test is that it not only educates people from all sectors about animal research, it provides an outlet to speak out!
PhD Student | Pro-Test Deutschland
“Hello, my name is Ann-Charlott, I am currently working on a PhD on ‘Tolerance Induction in High-Risk Corneal Transplants and the Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors at the University of Cologne, and I am doing animal experiments on mice.” – I rarely say that so directly. Why actually?
I love animals. And that’s why I find it uncomfortable, even embarrassing, to admit directly that I’m carrying out animal experiments. Because most people are given incredulous looks and, in the eyes of the beholder, they become torturers and bad people. And I understand why. When I see the pictures and reports of the activists against animal testing, I also want to start running straight away and save the animals.
What is often overlooked is the fact that I have personally wrestled with the question: “Are animal experiments a necessity?” It is overlooked that, before even starting an experiment, I let the mice get used to me for a couple days so they are not stressed or afraid of me. Or, the amount of planning and time I invest into carefully designing an experiment, including measures to prevent animals from unnecessary harm. One usually does not expect I am in the animal facility daily, often also on weekends, to check on the animals. It is important to note that the corneal transplantation I perform is under sterile conditions and the animals receive pain medication. Before I even started experimenting with mice, I spent almost 2 months of my PhD practicing and doing dry runs (without a living animal). All of this was because the wellbeing of the animals is in my heart. But, this contrasts starkly against the stereotyped mean, coldhearted researcher I am usually labeled the moment I mention anything about animal experiments.
Last year at an eye conference in the USA, there was a special seminar on how opponents of animal research are the ones primarily communicating with the public. These opponents usually present their arguments from an emotional perspective, all the while ignoring facts. This incident really motivated me to talk more about animal experiments and help people understand this sensitive topic. I don’t want to be ashamed of the work I do, because one day it can help people improve their quality of life.
I am also against animal experiments. I believe that the rules and the ethical approval one has to obtain before being allowed to perform an animal experiment needs to be taught, and that each year we should reevaluate the necessity of a particular experiment. If there are appropriate alternative methods they should, of course, be the first choice. For majority of experiments there is still no alternative available. Nevertheless, it is important to minimize the number of research animals and to consistently refine their housing. We do not perform animal experiments for fun, but out of an obligation to society.
The research for my PhD cannot be done completely in a petri dish. I depend on seeing how a whole organism reacts to a corneal transplant; otherwise I could draw the wrong conclusions. And it’s hard for me, but I think that’s a good thing. The lives of these mice are important to me and are a part of my job responsibility! By this, I prevent the animals from becoming just a tool, and promote their value as a living organism. In the end, I hope my work increases the tolerance towards corneal transplants and validates these animal experiments.
Professor at Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
The growing heart valve
Children in particular benefit from a growing heart valve that was developed in Hannover. Valve prosthetics available up until recently could not grow naturally because they are made from synthetic materials or fixed organic tissue. The growing heart valve, however, adapts to the growth of the patient, sparing the patients repeated risky and burdensome medical interventions.
The heart valves adapt to growth. In experiments, the valves were implanted in 20 kg sheep and removed from 70 kg sheep. The growth of the sheep was accompanied by a growth of the heart valves.
We must not pretend to have fully understood the biology of the mammalian organism, because all studies we conduct, for example on immunology, transplantation, or blood coagulation, cannot be carried out in a laboratory without including larger animals. As an alternative, patients would be exposed to a risk that would not be justifiable in my eyes.
We surgeons are careful to talk about “cures,” even with cancer surgeries or complicated heart surgeries. Actually, we repair. HOWEVER: I believe that we can speak of a cure in the case of the growing heart valve replacement, because we do not have to do surgery on the young patients again, and they also do not have to take any medication for the rest of their life.
Until today, more than 160 children have received a growing heart valve and all of them are well. Without the respective experiments in sheep, this would not be possible.
Neuroscientist | Pro-Test Germany
For some aspects of our lives we don’t need to kill animals. We don’t need to eat meat for example. We are omnivorous and all the nutrients we need to survive can be found elsewhere, especially nowadays thanks to our understanding of nutrition. So far, humanity’s survival strongly depended on it’s ability to generate and transmit knowledge . We are now facing new challenges like global warming or epidemics in third world countries. But people in industrial countries are still prone to develop horrible diseases.
I can’t stand the idea that the ones I love and myself will die in pain or go insane like what happened to my grandparents. I don’t want to lose my mind as I grow old and lose the ability to recognize my children when they will pay me a visit. For this reason I chose to conduct research in life sciences, more precisely, in neuroscience. In this field a lot of the understanding can only be made by working with living animals.
I would consider myself a sensitive person and I believe the animals I work with are sentients too. I truly try my best to prevent their stress, pain and suffering. At the end of the day, I feel that I am doing the right thing. I believe my research will contribute to the understanding of the brain functions. I feel at peace because I do my bit for mankind.
Director at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Diethard Tautz investigates the genetic differences between individuals and groups. The technique of DNA fingerprinting is based on his research and used for paternity tests and in forensic sciences worldwide.
As evolutionary biologists we try to understand how animals adapt to their environment and how new species develop. The adaptation process of animals to changing environments is also reflected in and inherited through their DNA and the main focus of our research is to identify those changes. At the same time, evolutionary adaption does not only take place in each animal individually, but also in whole populations. Thus, we like to work with animals caught from wildlife, but also with lab animals (flies, fish and mice). We are not only interested in the differences in physical appearance of the individuals of a species, but also in their genetic differences. Our research to find these differences let us to the development of genetic fingerprinting, which is also applicable to humans. In our current research we are trying to understand how the head shape of mice changed during evolution. While doing this research we are identifying genes that are also relevant for humans and might give us greater insight into human birth defects and genetically inherited diseases. Our research would be impossible without working with animals directly.
Neuroscientist | Pro-Test Germany
In my work as a researcher, I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The fMRI is based on measuring blood oxygenation changes caused by brain metabolic processes. While it is popularly considered an alternative to invasive electrophysiological recordings, and despite the efforts of researchers like Nikos Logothetis, we are still far away from bridging the gap between the brain blood oxygenation and electrical activity of single cells.
This means, that in my own field of research (neural mechanisms of motor control), the invasive recordings are vital for understanding of the processes used to encode the way our bodies move. The basic understanding helps in turn to implement more pragmatic techniques like advanced neuroprostheses that are the only hope for countless numbers of patients.
I believe the main role of organizations like Pro-Test Deutschland is to uncover such links between the basic science and its potential implications.
Student at University of Münster | Pro-Test Germany
I am currently a Master Student at the University of Münster, and since the beginning of my bachelor thesis I worked with animal models in the field of basic research. When it comes to the topic of using animals for research purposes it is very important to me that my counterpart is accurately informed about what type of work I perform and why it is necessary. For me, it is also important to inform people who have never been in science about these topics, because the counter-movement is always trying to imply a wrong image of animal testing.
I am often shocked by the public view on animal testing, which is often based on false or misleading information and is strongly influenced by the counter-movement. As a researcher, I can say that I am concerned about animal welfare, but I am aware of the need for animal testing. It is my responsibility to treat the animals in the best possible way. Furthermore, animal testing in Germany is performed under very strict regulations and animals are protected by the animal welfare act.
I believe that transparency and enlightenment are the best ways to improve the image of animal testing in the public view. This can only be achieved if researchers take over responsibility for their work, and if both sides accept that it is not only black and white.
For these reasons, I joined the Pro-Test Germany team!
Professor at Tübingen University, Dpt. Immunology
Most of the people alive today would not even exist without the animal experiments of the last 218 years, because their ancestors would have died of infectious diseases. Even for the smallpox vaccine, which was tested on humans in 1798 by Edward Jenner, cows had to be used for attaining the vaccine. The development of all further vaccinations is based on research on mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses and other animals.
Furthermore today’s insights in biosciences and medicine are based on animal experiments in basic research. Just think of monoclonal antibodies, without which the major part of our biomedical progress would not have come to be. There are a lot more diseases for which treatments can be improved by further research. This is especially true for deadly diseases in children and for persons in their family phase. Therefore, those who are fundamentally against animal experiments and block them – be it by means of demonstrating or attacking scientists in their work, or through absurd or unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles – kills not only children and adolescents alike but also their parents and other adults equally.
Nevertheless, there are certain animal experiments which are unreasonable. These include so-called cancer immunotherapy models in mice, which are supposed to predict how the respective therapy is going to take effect in humans. Since the immune systems of humans and mice differ in a great number of molecularly known features, such experiments in mice are not only futile, they are even deleterious because they can drive clinical research in the wrong direction and waste public money and that of charitable research associations – not to mention the torture which the mice undergo.
Neurofibromatosis Research Non-Profit
New York, New York, USA
Annette Bakker – President and Chief Scientific Officer
I love animals… but animal models are essential to make sure that one knows what a future drug candidate may do to the ‘whole body’ before giving it to a patient. The animal testing should be
done ethically and with max respect for the animals – the use of imaging will be able to significantly reduce the number of animals used but until a major breakthrough happens (a new predictive non-animal model), we will unfortunately not be able to cure disease without passing through the animal models.
I however am completely opposed to the use of animal models for cosmetics and would be an activist in that case but to cure patients, I am afraid that we have no choice.
I invite the activists to rather spend their energy on developing new imaging methods, so we can follow the same animal throughout the whole study or develop the new technologies that are needed to avoid animal model testing.
I think it is very cheap to just complain without positive action. I will be the first to defend the abolition of animal testing if we can replace them with adequate predictive models.
Pam Knight – Clinical Program Director
Not only humans, but also animals – pets, livestock and wildlife – benefit from animal-based research. Almost every discovery (antibiotics, anesthetics, surgical techniques, imaging modalities, etc.) developed through studies with animals also has a positive effect on veterinary medicine.
Julie Pantoliano – Community Relations
I do not know much about the details of science, I have never been in a lab. BUT I do know one thing: hope. I know that when I work with family after family and child after child, my heart leaps with joy every time we have a new clinical trial. I also know that clinical trials are not possible without mouse models and other animal research. So from all of us working with people, hugging them and wiping their tears, we know that animal research is more than important… it is our only hope to end neurofibromatosis.
PhD Student | Pro-Test Germany
I try to explain what this “Pro-Test Germany” does to my friends and family. “We are supporting animal experiments”, I say lapidary. The answers I get in return are comment like “But animal experiments are bad, aren’t they?”.
I start to realize two things. First, how deeply embedded this image seems to be in most people. “Animal experiments are bad.”, easy as that. No differentiation, no pondering, no questioning. Second, that this topic is delicate to such an extent that even the wording of a statement can make the difference between both sides having an open mind and being interested in each other’s opinions, and having insults and moral accusations lead the conversation.
Of course, this affects me personally, too. Some accusations or allegations really annoy me. In these moments, I’m having a hard time getting my point across calmly. Maybe say nothing at all instead? That’s not so easy either if your counterpart starts yelling at you, too. Silence or noise – those two seem to be the only alternatives.
That’s obviously nonsense. We have to talk about a difficult topic rationally and objectively. Especially, if the topic is as delicate and at the same time as important for our society as animal experiments. We all benefit from animal experiments, but some still seem to fail to recognize their importance for our modern health standards.
By contributing to Pro-Test Germany, I want to help reach the point where everyone can make an informed decision and where we will ultimately find an adequate volume for our debates.
Emma Martinez Sanchez
Molecular Biologist and Speaker of the European Animal Research Association (EARA)
The use of animals in research has facilitated major breakthroughs in medicine which have transformed human and animal health. Thanks to research using animals we could develop the breast cancer therapy Tamoxifen, which decreases the chances of developing breast cancer by 38% in high-risk women; test on mice aided the development of penicillin, antibiotic that saved countless troops’ lives during WWII and is still commonly used in clinical practices; the VSV-EBOV vaccine was found to be highly effective against the Ebola virus in animal models before it could be tested in humans (Phase III clinical trials).
Scientific research is the foundation to develop ground breaking treatments, cures and diagnostics both for humans and animals. To make progress in this direction, we need to continue increasing our understanding of biology in health and disease. For some complex processes such as neurological, mental and behavioural disorders or infection diseases, alternative methods are not suitable and scientific research still rely on the proof of concept provided by animal models.
Research using animals is only performed when alternative methods are not available, when the potential benefits to health are compelling, and when acceptable ethical and welfare standards can be met. I am familiar with the benefits of animal research and the stakes at risk if no animal models were used in research, which is why I support animal research.