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scientists react to Oxford University announcement

Oxford University has resumed building work on its new laboratory complex on South Parks Road. Top scientists comment on what this means for medical research in the UK.

Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), said:

“The Medical Research Council welcomes the news that Oxford University is committed to the completion of this biomedical research facility. After a substantial interruption in construction, it is heartening that the University feels it is finally able to resume the work on the centre.

“The MRC is committed to the highest ethical standards in animal experimentation and strives to find alternative ways to study and develop treatments for disease. The new centre will enable some of our most able scientists to conduct valuable research that will lead to improvements in human health worldwide while enhancing the welfare of animals in research.

“The medical research community is grateful for the support of Government, in the form of legislation, to counteract threats to vital research from animal rights extremism.”

Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:

“Research on animals has played a major role in improving human and animal health, and this continues to be the case.

“Research on animals has played a major role in improving human and animal health, and this continues to be the case.

“It is important that such research, which is regularly and rigorously scrutinised, continues until we find alternative approaches to answering vital questions about health and disease.

“This is a topic that raises strong emotions, however, it is important that debate on this topic must be conducted within the rule of the law.”

Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association (BIA), said:

“The recommencement of work at the University of Oxford biomedical research facility is extremely encouraging. Animal research is required by law, is strictly regulated and is vital for the development of life-saving new medicines for patients.

“The UK has an extremely strong research and science base and protection must be afforded to all those who make this work possible if this is to continue to flourish. The UK has the strictest legislation in the world protecting those individuals and companies connected with animal research. Its effective enforcement and policing will now be critical in ensuring that this project is completed.”

Professor Mike Spyer, UCL Vice-Provost for Biomedicine, said:

“We are delighted to hear of this development and believe that it is of real importance for the UK’s contribution to global health and disease prevention.”

Dr Philip Wright, Director of Science and Technology at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said:

“This is excellent news for anyone in Britain who either has a disease or is connected with someone who has. Animal research is an essential element in our understanding of what causes diseases and how to create the medicines to combat them, and the Oxford facility will play an important role in those areas. It is also good news for those who truly care about animals, as the centre will provide world-class facilities for the care and welfare of animals.”

Dr Simon Festing, Executive Director of the Research Defence Society (RDS), said:

“The medical research community welcomes the restart of the Oxford building project. This research centre is vitally important for the future of biomedical research in the UK. The half-finished building stands as a symbol of our ability to continue essential animal research in the face of intimidation and harassment by animal rights extremists.

“The government and criminal justice system are finally tackling extremism so that we can continue to use animals in research to overcome serious medical conditions like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis and malaria. The new Oxford research centre will provide top class facilities for such research, and also for the animals that will be used, a point that the extremists apparently choose to ignore.”

A spokesperson for the Coalition for Medical Progress (CMP), said:

“Nearly every medicine, vaccine, surgery and medical procedure used or performed in the UK today has depended on some animal research. Oxford University is currently at the forefront of research into TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS and childhood meningitis, as well as gene therapy for conditions such as muscular dystrophy. This new animal facility will provide state-of-the-art living conditions for the animals used in this research and millions of people worldwide could benefit from the medicines developed there.”

Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman, Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), said:

“Today’s announcement is good news for patients. Research into long term or life-limiting illnesses from asthma, arthritis and diabetes to cancer and serious neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease and stroke is currently carried out at Oxford University. This involves the use of animals when alternatives cannot be found, and observes the highest standards of animal welfare. Of course we would like to see a time when non-animal methods could be equally fruitful, but for now, our member charities, in common with the vast majority of the British public, accept that animal research is vital to medical progress.”

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