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Pro-Animal-Research Group Forms in L.A.

A victim of animal-rights terrorists is taking to the streets in favor of animal research.

Last month, animal-rights extremists torched the car of University of California, Los Angeles, neuroscientist J. David Jentsch. In response, Jentsch has founded a chapter of Pro-Test, a group that started in Oxford, U.K., and gained media attention and public support for animal testing. Jentsch is organizing a pro-research rally at UCLA to take place on 22 April.

The car bombing is the latest in a long string of attacks on UCLA researchers, and Jentsch says he felt he had to do something when he saw the impact the attack on his car had on his students and colleagues. "People are feeling increasingly victimized, even by proxy," he says. "Whatever we're doing now is not working, so we need to try something new."

Plans for the rally are still taking shape.

Several speakers will talk about the value of biomedical research, including Tom Holder, a former Oxford philosophy student and pro-research activist. "The goal is to be inspirational, to bring together people who have a common mission and give them an opportunity to exhibit solidarity," says Jentsch.

Jentsch scheduled the event to take place at the same time but in a different place than the location of an animal-rights rally at UCLA scheduled as part of the annual "World Week for Animals in Laboratories." He says he is not looking for a confrontation. The North American Animal Liberation Press Office issued a press release this week saying two physicians associated with the antivivisection movement "relish debate with Pro-Test UCLA organizers."

Based on the responses he's gotten so far, Jentsch expects a few hundred people to attend the Pro-Test rally, including UCLA students and scientists as well as researchers from local biotech companies and other universities. As more details become available, updates will be posted on the group's Web site and Facebook page.

(Photo courtesy Pro-Test)