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Animal Research: Anatomy of a Conflict

Emotions run high as Nature explores the effects of anti-animal-research activism on the scientific community. Roughly one-quarter of respondents to a new poll say that they or someone they know has been affected by animal-rights activism in some way. Although incidents don't seem to be on the rise, the heat of the debate and violence of some high-profile attacks have kept some people from speaking out about the importance of their research. With so much at stake, can individuals be expected to speak their minds? Can they afford not to?


  • Animal rights and wrongs

    A Nature survey shows the pernicious impact of activism on biomedical scientists. More institutions must offer researchers the training they need to stand up for their work.

    Nature 470 , 187-197 ( )

Web Specials

  • Live Q&A

    Writer Daniel Cressey and editor Brendan Maher discuss the results of Nature's recent online poll on Friday 25 February at 4pm UK time.

  • Nature Podcast

    Joseph Harris was a cancer researcher, a radical animal-rights activist, a prisoner and now the focus of a news feature in Nature. He speaks out for the first time to the Nature Podcast team.

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  • Battle Scars

    Nearly one-quarter of biologists say they have been affected by animal activists. A Nature poll looks at the impact.

  • The Radical

    Researcher by day and activist by night, Joseph Harris was leading an untenable double life that eventually landed him in prison.


  • Animal Research: TV or not TV

    Two views on whether scientists who believe that animal experimentation is necessary should become public advocates, or work quietly behind the scenes.

Previous special

  • In 2006, Nature conducted an anonymous survey of more than 1,600 readers to find out what biomedical scientists really think about animal research and communication with the public.


  • A matter of life and death

    Many scientists have nuanced views on animal research. But they are rarely heard, says Emma Marris.

  • Caught in the middle

    Researchers aren't the only ones who concern themselves with animal welfare in the lab. Vets are asked regularly to monitor and care for these animals - a role that can call for some difficult decsions. Kerri Smith talks to Sarah Wolfensohn, head of veterinary services at the University of Oxford, UK, about the challenges and conflicts presented by caring for experimental animals.

  • Primates in the frame

    Primate researchers have long faced violent protests over their work. But in some countries, regulatory obstacles are taking a greater toll. David Cyranoski meets European scientists who feel that bureaucratic pressures are closing their labs.

  • Mighty mouse

    Coordination and integration of the results of animal research are an ever-increasing challenge. Jane Qiu finds out what happens when big biology meets a small rodent.


  • An open debate

    Researchers who work with animals should join the discussion on animal experimentation.

    Nature 444 , 789-799 ( )