Using animals for the pursuit of scientific growth has been a hotly contested topic at the University of Wisconsin, but a proposed series of community forums will attempt to shed light upon the animal research program at UW.
Eric Sandgren, director of the UW Research Animal Resources Center and the leader of the forum-planning group said the main goal of the forums is to help people understand the issue.
Sandgren said the forums were first proposed by UW Provost Paul DeLuca and Graduate School Dean Martin Cadwallader with the hope of achieving greater transparency between UW’s animal research program and the general public.
UW’s animal research program came under scrutiny recently when multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act were discovered by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is involved in planning the forums, with UW professor and WNPRC researcher David Abbott acting as the center’s representative, according to the press release issued by University Communications.
The forum-planning also coincides with the arrival of Jon Levine, the new director of the WNPRC, who took over Sept. 1.
Despite the controversy UW’s animal research has attracted in the past, Sandgren said he talked with several animal activists in Wisconsin and is not expecting any protests.
“Several members on the planning group are animal activists, and they are very excited and enthusiastic about the forum,” he said.
Robert Streiffer, a bioethicist at UW is helping plan the forums and said he does not see a conflict with participating.
“Bioethics discusses the ethics of animal use in research, so there is no inherent conflict in talking about bioethics at a forum for animal research,” Streiffer said.
Sandgren hopes to have speakers ranging from prominent philosophers and ethicists to animal activists.
Sandgren said he expected many of the speakers would be willing to be featured at no charge.
No date has been set for the forums, Sandgren said, but the first planning group meeting will take place in late September, with the first community forum planned for sometime in November.