Lush Prize 2024 Major Science Collaboration Award winner – COLAAB

Safer Medicines Trust is part of the Coalition to Illuminate and Address Animal Methods Bias, otherwise known as COLAAB, so we were delighted when COLAAB was recently recognised for its important work with a Lush Prize in the category of Major Science Collaboration!

COLAAB is an international coalition of researchers and advocates from a range of organisations, charities and universities worldwide. It was formed in 2022 following a workshop to discuss how the bias towards using animal methods plays out within scientific publishing. Workshop attendees from publishing, academia, industry, government, and non-governmental organisations discussed this phenomenon and the impact it could have on scientists’ research and their careers. Two years later, COLAAB held another workshop, this one to explore the issue of bias in reviews of academic funding proposals.

There has long been anecdotal evidence of a bias towards using animals within academia. But what COLAAB has done is two things. First, and importantly, it has named the phenomenon. Being able to talk about ‘animal methods bias’ makes the issue much easier to discuss and helps people recognise it and – crucially – challenge it when it arises. Second, the coalition is collecting empirical evidence about how this bias plays out and how it affects scientists’ ability to get their studies published if they do not use animals. Not content with anecdote, COLAAB has conducted two surveys of scientists’ experiences of animal methods bias in academic publishing. The first was an initial foray into this field and the second, which should be published later this year, is a much larger survey, together with an analysis of biomedical publications. Further research is planned, including a qualitative study of the experiences of PhD students and early career researchers, and – hopefully – an investigation into animal methods bias within biomedical funding.

It’s wonderful that Lush Prize has recognised the importance of this collaboration. Congratulations to everyone involved!

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