The Scientific Activist

Yesterday, Americans for Medical Progress revealed the three recipients of its 2009 Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach. Applicants submitted proposals for programs aimed at spreading awareness about the role of animal research in medicine, and the three fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend each, plus an addition $2,000 to fund their proposals. This year’s fellows are Gillian Braden-Weiss and Breanna Caltagarone, who are veterinary students at the University of Pennsylvania, and Megan Wyeth, a graduate student at UCLA. Here’s a summary of the projects they are going to be working on:

As veterinary students at the University of Pennsylvania and active members of the Laboratory Animal Medicine Club, Gillian Braden-Weiss and Breanna Caltagarone will create a “Thank a Mouse” animal research outreach program for private practice veterinarians and their clients. Through the development of a website and other interactions, they will raise awareness for existing and future contributions of animal research to veterinary care.

Megan Wyeth, a graduate student who conducts epilepsy research at UCLA, was a student leader of the UCLA Pro-Test campus rally this April in support of scientists’ work in animal research. Now, as a Hayre Fellow, Megan will help to expand the student-based group Pro-Test for Science on the UCLA campus and foster similar student organizations nationwide.

You can read more about the fellows on the fellowship website. These are worthy and admirable projects, and they couldn’t be more timely, given the ongoing campaign of intimidation and misinformation against animal researchers by animal rights extremists. This is the second year that this fellowship has been awarded; the inaugural 2008 Hayre Fellow was Tom Holder, one of the founders of Oxford’s successful Pro-Test organization, who went on to create Speaking of Research during his fellowship.

On a side note, DrugMokey makes a poignant point about the value-for-money aspect of this fellowship on his blog:

One of the many announcements I received on this mentions that each outreach project comes with a $5,000 stipend and $2,000 in program funds. This is not big budget stuff. I mention this because it shows that a little bit of active fundraising from small donors can go a long ways. Personally I think that people like to see their donations are putting a perceptible dent in the charitable cause they’ve selected. This is probably one of the reasons why DonorsChoose is so attractive. I’d encourage this Hayres Fellow program to expand their fundraising amongst the scientific community. I think they’d have a lot of success by pointing out that each project costs a mere $7,000 and tracking donations. Heck, maybe they should think about putting up their honorable mention projects and seeing if anyone wants to add support to those.

If you’re interested in donating to the fellowship, click here.


  1. #1 Paul Browne
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks for the mention Nick!

    I’d just like to add that you can also show your support by signing the Pro-Test petition at

    It would be good to get the total past 10,000 signatures.

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