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Learn more about how we can transform medical research.

The practice of research involving animals must come to terms with centuries of scientific findings that lay bare the capacities and experiences of nonhuman beings.”

~ Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, CEO, Phoenix Zones Initiative, and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine

It’s time to transform medical research.

The medical and scientific communities have made important advancements in human research ethics, and it’s time to make similar progress for animals.

We need to

  • Increase transparency around the use of animals in research to better address questions about ethics and the medical and scientific relevance of experiments
  • Incentivize, through preferential funding, the use of human-centered, non-animal research methods
  • Create a roadmap toward the replacement of laboratory animal research with more ethical, human-centered methods 

On Thursday, January 27, 2022, Phoenix Zones Initiative hosted a virtual panel discussion with eight expert panelists who discussed how human research protections offer a framework toward a transformative research agenda that benefits people and animals.

Panelists explored how human research protections, including the principles and applications described in The Belmont Report, could be extended to protect the more than 115 million animals used in research in the US each year, while accelerating advances in more ethical, human-centered research technology.

Bodhi the dog with his cat brother Finn. Bodhi is a rescue from an animal testing laboratory

See our Press Kit, which includes more information about the event, as well as an FAQ about transforming medical research, a backgrounder about medical research, and more about our expert panelists.

Watch the Recording for the January 2022 Transforming Medical Research Event

Use and share our teaching guide, to use with the event video. The guide includes important questions to spark discussion and critical thinking with undergraduate and graduate students.

Thanks to our event Cosponsors!

Cambridge University Press logo
Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods logo
Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus logo
Center for Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University logo
Princeton University Press logo
The Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals logo
University of Chicago Press logo
University of New Mexico School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine logo

We were also grateful to have shared a special message at the event by Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace.

Our Panelists:

Dr. Charu Chandrasekera

Dr. Charu Chandrasekera, Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods, University of Windsor, Canada

Dr. Chandrasekera is the founder and executive director of Canada’s first and only center dedicated exclusively to animal-free science—the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) and its subsidiary, the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (CaCVAM), located at the University of Windsor. She is an experienced scientist, former animal researcher, science policy expert, and an animal lover.

Through CCAAM/CaCVAM, Dr. Chandrasekera promotes the replacement of animals in Canadian biomedical research, education, and regulatory testing through 21st century science, innovation, and ethics.

Dr. Hope Ferdowsian

Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, Co-founder and CEO, Phoenix Zones Initiative

Dr. Ferdowsian is president and CEO of Phoenix Zones Initiative, author of Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives, and an expert in research ethics and research policy. Over two decades, as a double board-certified internal medicine and preventive medicine physician, she has cared for vulnerable individuals and populations, and she has worked on public policies to address structural inequities, abuse, and exploitation. She has also led efforts to extend human research protections to animals.

Dr. Ferdowsian’s work across six continents has included collaboration with the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States and the development of medical, public health, and educational resources for nongovernmental organizations, national governments, and intergovernmental organizations. In 2011, she published the first of multiple articles describing mental disorders in chimpanzees used in laboratory research. Her work has been featured by Scientific American, the Huffington Post, the BBC, Voice of America, and other international media outlets. In 2017, she was named a Humanitarian of the Year in the American College of Physicians. She is also an associate professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, a co-director of the Society for Asylum Medicine, and a medical expert for Physicians for Human Rights.

Dr. Agustin Fuentes

Dr. Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

Dr. Fuentes, who has trained in Zoology and Anthropology, is a Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. His research delves into the how and why of being human. Ranging from engaging with monkeys in jungles and cities, to exploring the lives of our evolutionary ancestors, to examining what people actually do across the globe, Dr. Fuentes is interested in both the big questions and the small details of what makes humans and our closest relatives tick. His current projects include exploring cooperation, creativity, and belief in human evolution, multispecies anthropologies, evolutionary theory and processes, and engaging on race and racism.

Dr. L. Syd M. Johnson

Dr. L. Syd M Johnson, Associate Professor and Consultant, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Upstate Medical University

Dr. Johnson is a philosopher, neuroethicist, and bioethicist. Her research focuses on the ethical implications of developments in neuroscience, particularly those related to acute and chronic brain injuries. She also works in animal ethics, particularly animal research ethics in neuroscience, and animal ethics at the intersection of law and political philosophy. Her book, The Ethics of Uncertainty: Entangled Ethical and Epistemic Risks in Disorders of Consciousness (2021, Oxford University Press), is a philosophical analysis of the ethical, epistemic, and metaphysical uncertainties that attend new discoveries about disorders of consciousness.

Dr. Johnson is an associate editor at the journal Neuroethics, and is editor at for Neuroethics; Ethics of Brain Imaging; Cognitive Enhancement; The Minimally Conscious State; and Vegetative State and Coma. She served as a member of the Communications Committee of the International Neuroethics Society from 2015-2017, and has been a member of the Neuroethics Working Group of the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative since 2017.

Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel

Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, Senior Science Advisor, Primate Experimentation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

For 37 years Dr. Jones-Engel has studied the human-primate interface in wild and captive settings. She is a Fulbright Scholar who has received more than $5 million in research funding and has authored 100 peer reviewed manuscripts. She teaches courses on primate diversity and human attitudes towards primates. Her latest co-edited volume, Neglected Diseases in Monkeys: From the Monkey-Human Interface to One Health, was recently published by Springer Nature.

Dr. Jones-Engel’s work, which straddles the field, sanctuaries, and laboratories gives her an unparalleled understanding of how various stakeholders, including academics, scientists, students, and activists, think about primates.

Dr. Barbara J. King

Dr. Barbara J. King, Emerita Professor of Anthropology at William & Mary

Dr. King is emerita professor of anthropology at William & Mary and a freelance science writer and public speaker. The author of seven books, including the new Animals’ Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and the Wild, Barbara focuses on animal emotion and cognition, the ethics of our relationships with animals, and the evolutionary history of language, culture, and religion. Her book How Animals Grieve has been translated into seven languages, and her TED talk on animal love and grief has now received over 3.4 million views. Dr. King’s work has appeared in Scientific American, NPR, Aeon, and Undark, and she regularly reviews books for NPR.

Dr. Jessica Pierce

Dr. Jessica Pierce, Faculty Affiliate, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Pierce is a bioethicist who has been writing and teaching about the moral contours of human-animal relationships and environmental sustainability for over 20 years ,and she is a leading scholar in environmental bioethics. She has published 11 books, including A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without People; The Last Walk and Run: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives; and Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets, as well as hundreds of scholarly and popular articles. She is passionate about the possibilities for peaceful co-existence between humans and the many other forms of life with which we share the planet.

Dr. David Wendler

Dr. David Wendler, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

Dr. Wendler has written widely on such topics as assent in pediatric research, assessing research risks systematically, research with stored biological samples, and protecting communities in biomedical research from exploitation. He is an attending on the Bioethics Consultation Service and a member of the NIH Intramural IRB.

Actively sought out as a consultant and scholar, he has consulted on minimal risk for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, on research with wards of the state for the Division of AIDS of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and pediatric research for the Institute of Medicine. He also has been a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia, and has lectured at the University of Bergen’s School of Medicine in Norway, Georgetown University, and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

There is indeed a need for a Belmont Report for Animals. We are now fully aware of the harms we cause and the benefits we do and do not derive from those harms. . . . This is exactly why we are in need of a serious and global reassessment of how, why, and whether we harm other animals and a better roadmap for navigating that landscape.”

~ Dr. Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

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