by Stephanie Morley, DVM
For thousands of years before papyrus, quill pens and printing presses, humans imparted knowledge and history through storytelling. These stories presented the facts in a personal, meaningful context. As author Madeline L’Engle once noted, “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”
There’s one tale of truth I’m especially glad to tell: the life-saving role of biomedical research.
Recently, I joined the board of directors of the Foundation for Biomedical Research. It’s a nonprofit organization, completely funded by private donations, that seeks to educate the public about the essential role of humane animal research in the quest for medical advancements, treatments and cures for both humans and animals.
I’m excited to be part of FBR because they educate through truthful storytelling. They go beyond mere facts and figures to explain why this research matters.
Consider the story of Liviya Anderson, a vivacious youngster with a passion for horses. When she became seriously ill, her parents met with a doctor and were relieved to hear the six-year-old did not have leukemia. Then he added these shocking words: “You wish she had leukemia.”
Liviya was suffering from aplastic anemia, an often deadly disease with limited treatment options. A bone marrow transplant was her best hope; unfortunately, no match could be found. So doctors turned to a course of treatment using live antibodies from horses to stop the destruction of Liviya’s vital blood cells. The treatment was defined through biomedical research involving animal studies.
Liviya, now age nine, is alive and well today, taking every opportunity to ride atop the horses she loves.
That’s just one of countless stories that show the real, life-saving value of the biomedical research happening every day, including among my colleagues at MPI Research. It’s tales like Liviya’s that inspire us to do what we do: helping develop new treatments and cures.
Our story, too, is one I enjoy sharing. Have you ever taken a pill for a minor headache? Ever use a topical ointment on a rash? Ever been vaccinated to prevent a serious disease, or given an antibiotic to fight an ear infection in a child? Every one of those treatments has been through a rigorous testing process involving amazing technology and carefully guided animal studies. Even the medications you give your pet have been through this process. And scientists like my MPI Research co-workers are leading that charge.
At the same time, we’re working with new tools and approaches to reduce the number of animals used in research while ensuring that the treatments we study are as safe and effective as possible. Like most people, we look forward to the day when animals are no longer needed in biomedical research. That day isn’t here yet; many medications can’t be evaluated without animal studies, and these studies are required by regulatory agencies. But the science is advancing, and we support it.
Meanwhile, MPI Research is committed to medical progress on critical treatments for cancer, neurological disorders, infectious diseases and many other conditions while using as few animals as possible in testing. FBR shares both that commitment and the goal of helping people understand the critical nature of medical research in improving and saving lives—lives like that of Liviya Anderson.
I’m proud to be part of this story.