Pro-Test rally on April 8 supports researchers, denounces harassment
Several hundred scientists, students and other supporters of research involving laboratory animals are expected to gather on campus Thursday, April 8, for a "Stand Up for Science" rally.
The event is organized by Pro-Test for Science, a grassroots organization of faculty, staff and students modeled after a group formed by Oxford University students in England. One of the goals of the rally is to defend the right of researchers to pursue their work free from harassment by anti–animal research extremists and to communicate a better understand of research to the public.
Pro-Test members and supporters will gather on the northeast corner of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue at 11:30 Thursday morning to stand up for lifesaving research. A march will follow the 11:30 rally, with marchers converging on UCLA's Wilson Plaza to hear speakers, including UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh and Dr. Kevin Quinn from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Pro-Test co-founder J. David Jentsch, a UCLA professor of psychology and psychiatry, helped form the group last year after extremists came to his home and firebombed his car in the middle of the night.
"I, like hundreds of other faculty, students and staff at UCLA, am a scientist who studies the biology and behavior of mice, rats or monkeys in my quest to better understand how the brain works. Because of this, I have been targeted by animal rights activists," Jentsch said. "We will stand up for science and against the anti–animal research voices that would seek to stall advancements in health and welfare of humans and animals alike."
Jentsch spearheaded Pro-Test's first march a year ago, when 700 supporters gathered to support researchers and counter a protest held on campus by anti–animal research activists at the same time. This year, no anti-research rallies are known to be planned at the same time.
Since 2003, UCLA researchers and administrators have been subjected to an organized campaign of harassment intended to halt the use of animals in research.
Animal research at UCLA alone has led to lifesaving medical breakthroughs in cancer, stroke, organ transplants and many other areas. There is overwhelming agreement among physicians and scientists worldwide that laboratory animals provide irreplaceable and invaluable models for human systems. Research involving laboratory animals at UCLA is heavily monitored and subject to stringent and multiple federal laws and university regulations.