We All Can Relate and Find A Common Ground

As I slumped in the uncomfortable and ever-shrinking airplane seat late at night on my way home after PRIM&R’s 2019 IACUC Conference, I reflected on the discussions and ideas shared.

From decreasing regulatory burden, to communicating with the public; from the importance of animal play to euthanasia and more. I debated with myself: what do I write about now? All the information presented was valuable and relevant and picking one subject over the next seemed arbitrary and capricious. I argued internally that if I wrote about one subject, the reader would miss learning about the others. Interrupted every now and then by the unexpected jolt of the airplane, I remained deep in thought…what do I write about?

And then it came to me. Among the speakers, one in particular, Leland S. Shapiro, PhD, touched me in a unique way. A brain tumor survivor and fellow martial artist (I have a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do), Dr. Shapiro related his story in an unusually funny and endearing fashion. He shared his full experience, from his initial symptoms, to his struggle to find a doctor. His frustration and moments of almost giving up, his perseverance and fight—his ultimate triumph.

As he explained, he is a living legacy of animal-based research. And I think this is something we can all relate to and find similar stories of in our own circles: family members, friends, neighbors saved by medical interventions made possible by animal research.

I wondered if even the detractors of animal-based research could think of a story that, once all the layers are peeled back, would reveal the direct benefit of animal-based research they themselves enjoy. Perhaps they have an elderly parent who underwent cataract surgery and can enjoy the beauty of a sunset; a child who, thanks to vaccines, has not suffered infectious diseases that were once rampant; a friend with controlled high blood pressure; a cancer surviving wife.

This is, in my opinion, a common ground where the research community and those who oppose animal research can meet: a place where we can start difficult conversations with an honest and open dialogue.

My mother, now 85 years old, underwent uterine cancer surgery when I was a high school student and she is still going strong. My daughter had a beautiful and healthy child just a few months ago, thanks to the medical advances that allow for early interventions when complications are suspected. I myself have my own litany of ailments for which I receive treatments. And today, my beloved wife is still my beloved wife thanks to an early cancer diagnosis and minimally invasive robotic surgery that gave us the gift of a fast recovery and a healthy future.  

How about our animal friends? We have a dog, two cats, a bird, and a turtle, all healthy thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and care. Recently we were able to admire nesting bald eagles in the wild, a success story in wildlife conservation and research. And we hope research will help other animals, from the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot to the US bat population being devastated by White Nose Syndrome.   

These are just a few of my many reasons I support the responsible use of animals in research.

Noé Tirado-Muñiz DMV, DVM, MS, CPIA, joined the University of Kentucky Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in 2011 and is currently the Associate Attending Veterinarian and Associate Director for the Office of the Attending Veterinarian (OAV). He serves as Executive Secretary to the IACUC and his functions include IACUC administration, policy development, completion of federally mandated reports, IACUC education and Principal Investigator orientation among others.

Dr. Tirado-Muñiz obtained his DMV from The Superior Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Havana, Cuba (now The Agrarian University of Havana) in 1984 and his second veterinary degree (DVM) in 1994 from The Ohio State University. After being in private practice he was accepted into the Laboratory Animal Residency Program at OSU where he obtained his MS in 1999. He obtained his credential as Certified Professional IACUC Administration in 2014.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

PRIM&R’s next IACUC Conference takes place April 5-7, 2020 in Orlando, FL. Save the date, and consider submitting a session proposal or a poster abstract for a chance to have your work and/or expertise featured on-site!