Did you know that in the UK alone nearly 4 million ‘procedures’ are carried out on animals in the name of bio-medical research every year ? Did you know that these tests are not compulsory ?
The Dr Hadwen Trust is the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity. The Dr Hadwen Trust campaigns for and funds biomedical research which produces techniques that can replace the use of animals in this field. We visited there stall at VegFest in Glasgow last year so when I got the chance to talk with Gerry Reilly about the work that they do I was delighted. I spent some time talking to Gerry (who is responsible for fund raising and raising the profile of this fantastic organisation) with a view to finding out more about the great work that they are doing. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.
The trust was started in 1971. We have funded over 180 research projects covering all sorts of research areas including cancer, alzheimers, liver disease, heart disease. In the last 5 years we have funded £3,500,000 of research at Phd and post graduate level. This includes summer fellow ship schemes and summer student schemes. We try to focus on young scientists performing ground breaking research.
Yes, this is true but we do not fund research used to produce drugs and vaccines. We fund biomedical research which is not about testing drugs. We believe that using animals for any kind of biomedical research testing to be un-necessary and irrrelevant. We see a blind acceptance that animal testing has to go on. It has a lack of human relevance.
Over the past 5 years we have funded around £3,500,000 directly to bio-medical research projects. We receive no government funding and are entirely dependent on donations received. The more donations we receive, the more research we can fund.
We operate purely in the UK and have some particularly interesting projects going on in Scotland. For example, at the University of Dundee Professor Graham Houston is using human cadavers alongside a technique called ‘theil embalming’. This technique allows the human body to stay preserved and this means that more research can be carried out using human bodies. This is particularly useful for cardiovascular testing e.g. stents. Previously pigs would have been used in this kind of research.
This is a real break through in terms of the ability of testing these devices. As a by product, surgeons are very keen – it means they can practise on proper bodies. This kind of research is absolutely ground breaking.
At the University of Glasgow Dr Helen Wheadon is carrying out stem cell research using funding provided by the Dr Hadwen Trust. At Glasgow Caledonian University Dr Catherine Wright is developing a human tissue bank to allow research into diabetes. Meanwhile, Edinburgh University Professor James Ross is looking at toxicology in the liver, using human cells rather than animal cells. All of this research is essential.
Fundamentally any project we fund must in some way be an alternative to using animals.
Our current portfolio involves 14 ongoing research projects. Typically a project will last for 3 years. Each project typically requires a six figure sum to provide adequate funding. Medical research is expensive, it is usually ground breaking and innovative and typically very sophisticated.
We are a small team of 10 people, based in Hitchin in Hertfordshire. We have a network of supporters up and down the country who actively raise funds for us. This year we are attending the VegFest events in Brighton, Bristol, London and Glasgow and are absolutely delighted by the support being shown from the Vegan community. We attend these events to attract new supporters and talk about the work that we are doing here at the Dr Hadwen Trust.
This year we also opened our first charity shop here in Hitchen, this is we believe the UK’s first Vegan charity shop. I think that more people have heard about us in the last 6 months through this shop than in previous months, its been hugely successful for us and we have had no end of publicity nationwide.
We have been amazed at the support from the Vegan community, and are seeing lots of people sending products and goods to us for free, which go for sale in our shop to help fund the research work that we want to do.
I joined the Dr Hadwen Trust just over 18 months ago, prior to that I have been involved in fund raising for the last 7 years. I had previously been fund raising for childrens disability charities. I have to admit, I was not very well informed about medical research and animal testing and this has been one of the best things I have ever done. The work we are doing is really making a difference.
Every day you learn something new, every day we are influencing people to think differently and every day is a challenge and an opportunity.
I’m responsible for fundraising and raising awareness of the trust nationally.
Be aware of the work that we are doing and importantly, be aware of the potential difference that the work can make.
People are generally not aware that medical research using animals is not compulsory. Good science doesn’t have to use animal experiments. You can help us fund raise. You can spread the word by talking to your friends or talking about us on social media. You can also donate directly.
72 pence in every pound goes to support charitable aims. 24 pence in every pound is spent raising funds. 4 pence in every pound is spent on running costs. We are very efficient.
We are extremely grateful for the support that we get from the vegan community. We regularly have people from Scotland send us goods for the charity shop. We are particularly looking forward to going to VegFest in Glasgow this year.
You can find out more about The Dr Hadwen Trust by visiting the website:Visit Website
Find out more about The Dr Hadwen Trust research portfolio and the great work they are doing:Dr Hadwen Trust Research Portfolio