Leicesters approach was truly trailblazing

The University has won the 2015 UAR Openness Award for animal research public engagement activity.

The award reflects the ongoing efforts at Leicester to communicate the benefits of animal research and dates back to our campaign at the start of the build of the biomedical research facility.

The Award was made at the Wellcome Collection annual awards and Paget lecture in the presence of Mark Walport, Colin Blakemore and many members of the scientific community. The judges stated the following about Leicester:

This organisation was originally nominated in the category of internal engagement, but the committee felt that it was more appropriate to make this award in the public engagement category. They have led an enormous culture change, and have been a truly open academic institution since before the Concordat. When the Concordat was proposed they offered to be the first to sign and have consistently advocated the benefits of openness, leading the way in this area. They have been enormously helpful to the sector, offering support and advice to other institutions that follow suit, and the impact of what they have achieved cannot be underestimated. We are very pleased to be able to make this award to University of Leicester in recognition of their great contribution to openness in UK life-sciences.

Dr Simon Festing, Head of Advocacy at the  British Heart Foundation, who presented the award to Ather Mirza (pictured, right), Director of the News Centre, was very fulsome in his praise of our work.  Fiona Fox, Director of the Science Media Centre, has added: “Leicester’s approach was truly trail blazing. I do a lot of talks on openness on animal research and the Leicester case study is centre stage of my slides.”

Leicester won the award from amongst a strong group – others nominated included Imperial College and the Babraham Institute.

A close-up of the award
At the awards ceremony,  University of Leicester’s Open Lab weeks for schools was also nominated for an award  and the evening included an acknowledgement of the work of Professor Andrew Tobin in championing openness through talks and presentations in schools and the community.

The Concordat on Openness on Animal Research UK Annual Report was also presented and this too praises Leicester.  For example, in the section about Position Statements on Animal Research Leicester is cited as one of 20 organisations in the UK that ‘have produced web pages that go beyond the requirement for a policy statement and offer detailed information about their use of animals in research.’

In a section on Evidence of Step Change, Leicester is cited alongside Oxford and York as examples of institutions that are notable for providing further information about animal research.

Ather Mirza said: “This is our third award on communicating animal research – we have previously won Heist and THE awards.  It is clear that Leicester is heralded as an institution that has led a culture change across the sector as a whole in terms of communicating animal research.

“This success has been a truly collaborative effort that has seen academics and professional services working closely for a common purpose that is now regarded as an exemplar. “