Focusing on Future Generations
Openness fits with AstraZeneca’s values and commitment to ethics and transparency. We take pride in our work and the impact it has on the lives of patients. Quality science can only be achieved with a culture of care and commitment to high animal welfare standards.
AstraZeneca’s research focus is wide-ranging and touches countless lives. Our study areas include oncology, vaccines and immune therapies, respiratory and immunology, cardiovascular, renal health, metabolism and rare diseases.
The majority of our science is carried out without the need for animal use; however, animals do still play a small but critical role in our work and we take responsibility for the care and welfare of our animals very seriously through a strong commitment to the 3Rs.
· We Reduce the number of animals we work with to the minimum amount required to achieve the scientific objective.
· We Refine our studies to optimize animal care and welfare.
· We continue to invest in new non-animal-based technologies, such as micro physiological systems, that have the potential to Replace the need for animals in research.
Alongside our contribution to the 3Rs, we also believe it’s critically important to ensure that our colleagues at AstraZeneca who are not directly involved with research animals understand when, why and how we work with animals. As part of this commitment, we host annual employee events such as Biomedical Research Awareness Day and an awards program that recognizes and celebrates achievements in the 3Rs of animals in research. This program underpins our culture of care for our animals and our staff.
AstraZeneca holds other internal events throughout the year as well, including presentations and facility tours for interns and employees who show interest in learning more. These events bring employees all throughout our business together and help to increase awareness of our animal use. They are also an excellent opportunity to engage with new employees, contractors and visitors, while at the same time recognizing employees for their contributions.
When it comes to our public education efforts focused on the involvement of animals in research, we take great pride in our work with aspiring young scientists. Our goal is to allow future generations to honestly experience our animal research program and how animal studies are important in the discovery and development process for medicines. To date, we’ve connected with over 500 high school and college students through both facility tours and virtual experiences. We have been able to show them what science looks like while demonstrating the high level of care, respect and compassion it takes to work with research animals.
Over time, our company’s education efforts have been bolstered even further by the use of virtual technology. Webinar programs, combined with in-person events, have allowed us to significantly expand our audience to include people all around the globe, whilst still maintaining connections within our local communities. We’re also pleased to report that audience engagement and enthusiasm for these events has continued to grow as our program has expanded.
Whether we’re communicating with students or our own staff, we always try to tailor each of our events to the background of the audience. For example, we offer more detailed science-based presentations about research areas to audiences with a more scientific background as well as general discussions about animal research for more lay audiences. We initiated these efforts after partnering with biomedical research advocacy organizations, including Americans for Medical Progress and Understanding Animal Research, to leverage existing public outreach and openness experience to design thoughtful, well-rounded events.
The feedback we’ve received in response to these programs has shown that awareness and appreciation of how we work with animals at AstraZeneca has increased. We’ve developed new relationships and enhanced existing ones with employees and departments not traditionally associated with animal research. We have also noted several benefits when it comes to relationships with the community and biomedical research advocacy organizations. We think one distinct sign of success is that we are now being approached with requests to host future educational events, rather than simply offering them on a set schedule.
Finally, if we were to offer any advice to other people who are considering similar openness activities, we believe engaging with colleagues is a great first step. Reaching out to different departments to introduce the subject and gauge interest can help identify key audiences. When engaging with the community, it is advisable to involve corporate affairs, public relations, or similar teams in your openness plans. Patience is critical, but so is persistence! The adage, “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” certainly applies.
To find out more about scientific innovations at AstraZeneca and the small but critical part animals in research play at AstraZeneca, please visit the following links.