On Monday 4 December, The Pirbright Institute jointly won the Public Engagement category at the fourth annual Understanding Animal Research (UAR) Openness Awards for its contribution to the 360° Laboratory Animal Tours project. The Openness Awards mark the efforts of UK research facilities to be transparent about their use of animals in research, and recognise the innovative ways they are communicating with the public.
The tours were nominated for their innovative solution to offering the public a unique virtual tour of four animal research facilities that usually have restricted access to visitors. The Pirbright Institute worked with UAR along with three other research facilities at the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol and MRC Harwell Institute, to produce an online interactive 360 degree experience that provides a look into modern animal facilities.
The tour explores Pirbright’s research facilities in a similar manner to the street view function in Google Maps, allowing users to move around each laboratory, providing the watcher with a 360 degree view of the animal rooms and surgical suites. The tour also features videos of Scientists, who explain why animals are so essential to their research, and Animal Technicians who are dedicated to ensuring high standards of welfare for the animals in their care.
Tony Smith, Animal Services Capability leader at Pirbright, said: “We’re proud to be part of a project that is setting new standards for communicating the use of animals in research and delighted to have won this award alongside the three other organisations.
“Finding a way to open our doors to the public has always been a challenge at Pirbright given our research is undertaken in high containment facilities. However this tour has provided us with an invaluable tool that the public can use to understand our work with animals and why this research is necessary to protect the UK’s food and economic security and improve animal health globally.”
Dr Michael Johnson, Pirbright’s Home Office Licence Holder, said: “Pirbright is supporting the 360° Laboratory Animal Tours project as part of its corporate commitment to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, and is just one example of our efforts to improve our transparency around our research with animals.”