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Newsletter: Understanding Animal Research

Understanding Animal Research

I’m a tissue salesman; but not the kind that hands out Kleenex; I run ShARM and sell the tissues from old mice for a living! Its not the kind of thing a kid grows up dreaming of becoming, or the kind of thing you use to introduce yourself at dinner parties! Nonetheless I love it and am proud to play my part in reducing the number of animals used in research. However I didn’t always feel like this. Its only because of the support and advice I got from the Understanding Animal Research workshop that I now proudly announce what I do to anyone who will listen!

I had never worked with animals used in research before and because the subject is so sensitive, I didn’t know who I could talk to or what I could say. I wasn’t sure how my family and friends would feel about it, or come to think of it, how I would feel about it; I realised I needed to do some soul searching. Of course I knew that animals were used in medical research, I have taken numerous medications in my lifetime and am glad that these were thoroughly checked before I was allowed to take them. I suppose I felt it was an unfortunate necessity, but like many people tried to avoid thinking too much about it. When I joined ShARM, I was nervous about telling people what I did, I would say I worked with “resources” to simply avoid the subject; until I met the team from Understanding Animal Research.

Understanding Animal Research is an organisation that provides information on animal research to anyone who is interested. They also provide training, support and resources for researchers to go into schools to talk to kids (from 10 years old) about how and why we use animals in research. My institution is one of many which encourage outreach activities, so Understanding Animal Research were invited to present a workshop on how to explain animal research to children.   

The session was an afternoon’s workshop which was fun, informative and empowering; I also got to know some interesting facts about my colleagues! The team ran the session basically how they would do if they went in to a school so it was very interactive, with lots of ideas and inspiration for how to explain why we use animals in research, how much is done and what actually happens to the animals. It really got me questioning my own thoughts and feelings! The thing I liked the most was that it was clear that the aim was not to convince school children that using animals for research is right - it was about providing the facts. By explaining the benefits and the costs the kids can make up their own mind, but it will be an informed decision.

Understanding animal research also emphasised how rewarding it can be for researchers to go into schools, not only because it’s fun and it’s an opportunity to inspire a young generation, but kids are very astute and will ask thoughtful, inquisitive questions which might make you see your work in a new light! I would highly recommend it!

So how do I feel about telling people about my job now? Well I’m probably one of only a few people that would be happy if my job didn’t exist... I look forward to the time when animals are no longer needed in research, that we have learnt all we can from them and can use cells and computer models to test our interventions instead. But until we do, I will be here, making sure that every part of every single aged mouse is used to its full capacity so the number of animals needed is reduced and the research output is increased.
Understanding Animal Research can come to your institution to run similar workshops. For more information and help with outreach activities visit

By Adele Duran


Join the Management Board

ShARM is an innovative facility developed for and run by investigators from the ageing research community aiming to accelerate research into ageing. We are currently looking to appoint a new member of the management board. The position is voluntary (expenses will be covered), tenable for 2 years and offers the opportunity for an individual to shape and develop a pioneering facility, expand their network and collaborate with research scientists in the field of ageing.

Job description

The management board determines ShARMs strategic direction and oversees its management. Members meet, twice a year; one of which is via teleconference. Members are expected to facilitate the establishment and expansion of the facility. Members should contribute new ideas, disseminate information and actively promote the facility whenever possible, such as at scientific meetings and within their own institution. Members will collaborate on publications and new grant applications.

Person specification

The individual should be enthusiastic about the driving principles behind ShARM and willing to promote the facility. An interest in ageing and relative demonstrable expertise such as pathology, ageing research, animal research or facility management would be an advantage.

To apply

Please send a statement to explaining why you would like to become a board member and what you would bring to the facility. All registered members of ShARM will be asked to vote to appoint the new board member.



Tissues Currently Available

The following flash frozen tissues are currently available for immediate purchase. Tissues are priced at £35 for aged tissue and £30 for young controls (+ shipping costs). Email for more details.

Brain     Kidney      Gut        Skin
Heart    Spleen      Muscle    White Adipose Tissue
Lung     Thymus    Bone       Brown Adipose Tissue

Tissues are taken from 3, 18 and 25 month old female and 25 month old male C57Bl/6 mice.


Live Ageing Colonies

We are anticipating the harvest of the following aged C57Bl/6 mice. If you would be interested in any tissues, please send your request to

  • Male and female perfused with CPH just prior to sacrifice.
  • Males, aged over 18 months


Upcoming Meetings

ShARM will be in attendance at :
8th European Congress on Biogerontology – March 10 -13, 2013, Isreal
Other meetings:
Experimental Biology 2013 (FASEB)  - April 20-24, 2013, Boston
5th International Symposium Nutrition, Oxygen Biology and Medicine - Development and Aging: nutrition, epigenetic and lifestyle consequences to the healthspan  - June 5-7, 2013,  France
Harvard/Paul F. Glenn Symposium on Aging, June 17, 2013, USA
20th IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics - International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, June 23-27, 2013, Korea
American Aging Association 42nd Annual Meeting-Aging: Prevention, Reversal, and Slowing May 31 - June 3, 2013, USA 
Gordon Research Centre -  Biology of Ageing  - August 11 – 16, 2013, Italy
SENS6 - Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, Sixth Conference - September 3-7, 2013, England
British Society of Gerontology, 11-13 September 2013, Oxford
22nd Nordic Congress of Gerontology, May 25-28, 2014, Gothenburg
Gerontological Society of America, 66th Annual Scientific Meeting  November 20-24, 2013, USA,  Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine 20th Annual Meeting, November 20-24, 2013, USA

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