• Question: Do you harm animals in your work?

    Asked by Ethan to Shannon, Matt, Katherine, James, Hugh on 9 Nov 2017. This question was also asked by SF.
    • Photo: Katherine Benson

      Katherine Benson answered on 9 Nov 2017:

      I don’t work with animals at all in my work! I work just on saliva and blood samples from humans like you!

    • Photo: James Brown

      James Brown answered on 9 Nov 2017:

      Good question, but a tough (and emotional) one.

      Fortunately i don’t need to do any work on animals, we use samples from people.

      But, sometimes in science we have to test on animals before people (and its very strictly regulated and only done when really necessary these days).

      That’s how we know drugs that are used every day to save millions of lives are safe (think antibiotics, vaccines, all the drugs used to treat cancer), basically ever drug ever used (otherwise we might end up killing people if we tested new drugs on people first).

      see today’s BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41914101)- using stem cells to treat diseases (like this one or cancer) had to be first tested in animals to make sure they are safe, and dont make it worse or cause another disease. But the benefits to humanity (and millions of people) can be enormous (like the recent HPV vaccine, or malaria vaccine trials).

      There is a huge effort world wide to develop new and better ways to test drugs that dont use animals- not there yet, but one day it will happen- we are just not advanced enough yet.

    • Photo: Shannon Fullbrook

      Shannon Fullbrook answered on 9 Nov 2017:

      No thank god I don’t have to work with animal models. I don’t know if I would be able to do that

    • Photo: Hugh J. Byrne

      Hugh J. Byrne answered on 11 Nov 2017:

      We do some work with algae and bacteria, as well as small water fleas called Daphnia, but nothing larger.