AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
2011 Award Recipient
Drs. Jentsch, London, and Ringach
(l-r) Drs. Jentsch, London, and Ringach
Drs. Jentsch, London, and Ringach—scientists who use non-human primates in their research on schizophrenia, addiction, and visual processing—are recognized for the rare courage they have demonstrated in speaking out forcefully for the value of the use animals in biomedical research.
In March 2009, Dr. Jentsch was awakened by a loud noise and found that his car had been set on fire and destroyed. He has also received threatening messages, including one that said “I hope you die!” Picketers near his home have chanted “David Jentsch has blood on his hands!” to passersby.
A garden hose was inserted into Dr. London’s home through a broken window, causing $30,000 in water damage. In claiming credit for the attack, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) announced that it would have set her home on fire but for the fact that it was the dry season in Los Angeles and they did not want to start a wider fire. However, ALF did warn her that the next time they would not be so careful. True to their word, a few months later, a firebomb was set off on Dr. London’s front doorstep.
Masked activists banged on Dr. Ringach’s door and windows in the middle of the night, and he was subject to continuous harassment by ALF members.
Despite this horrible intimidation, Drs. Jentsch, London, and Ringach refused to be silent. Dr. London wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Why I Use Laboratory Animals” and has spoken out broadly on the importance of animal studies to potentially life-saving research. Dr. Ringach gave an interview to CNN on the value of animals in research. Drs. Jentsch and Ringach co-founded Pro-Test for Science, a group that solicits public support for humane animal research and counters false and inflammatory claims of animal rights extremists. Under its auspices, they organized a rally that attracted 700 faculty members, students, and members of the public and collected 10,000 signatures on a petition in support of humane animal research. Additionally, they partnered with a campus animal rights group to organize a peaceful public debate on the topic of animal-based research. They have also developed resources for researchers facing attack by animal rights extremists and are mentoring scientists on how to become advocates for humane animal research.
Drs. Jentsch, London, and Ringach are recognized for their determination to defend the value of the use of animals in research and to ensure that extremists trying to prevent animal studies will not prevail.
The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, established in 1980, honors scientists, engineers, and their organizations whose exemplary actions, sometimes taken at significant personal cost, have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility. The recipient receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.