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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  September 2011  /  The geography of international biomedical research

The geography of international biomedical research

Gail Davies gives plenary lecture at the Montreal World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences

The geography of international biomedical research

Dr Gail Davies was invited to present a plenary lecture at the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, held in Montreal, August 21-25th, 2011.

The talk featured preliminary findings from her research on the changing geographies of international biomedical research.  She reflected on the implications of her research for the laboratory animal community working on ways to further the reduction, replacement and refinement (the ‘3Rs’) of animal use in international laboratory science.

The paper presented some of the insights a geographer might bring to understanding the international application of the 3Rs. The landscapes of scientific research are increasingly extensive, with established research centres in Europe and North America now supplemented by the emergence of new scientific initiatives in China, India, and elsewhere.  Scientific research is also becoming more interconnected, with an intensification of patterns of international collaboration. The use of laboratory animals is following similar patterns, perhaps most notably through a series of initiatives for generating, characterizing and archiving mutant mice across the international scientific community.  Whilst publication metrics and other quantitative data give a sense of the patterns of these emerging collaborations, qualitative research is essential to understand the processes through which such collaborations are forged and the challenges they present to established research practices and the governance of science in different localities.  The paper outlined these processes, drawing on in-depth interviews and participant observation with researchers and stakeholders involved in the changing practices of laboratory animal research in North America, Europe, and South-East Asia.  In particular, it explored the often-entrenched debates between the use of performance and engineering standards to argue for animal welfare in the USA and Europe.  It suggested that both are linked to these specific landscapes of laboratory research, and the debate between them may need revision to further both animal welfare and meaningful research within the increasingly global landscapes of laboratory animal research.


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