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A series of films illustrating how research using animals is helping further our understanding of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was last night (4 December) awarded the 2017 Openness Award in the category of Website or Use of New Media.

Understanding the OCD Brain, produced by the University’s filmmaker Jonny Settle, is presented by science writer David Adam, who wrote The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, a book about his own experience of living with OCD. The films follow Adam as he visits Cambridge and interviews researchers involved in the study of OCD, who explain why it is necessary to use animals – including non-human primates (marmosets) – in their research and how their work is helping inform research involving people affected by the condition.

“This is a great endorsement of our approach to openness around animal research,” says Craig Brierley, Head of Research Communications at the University of Cambridge. “We recognise that animal research can be controversial, but we hope that by explaining why we work with animals – and, importantly, how we put the welfare of animals at the heart of what we do – we can help people understand the importance of this work.”

Professor Angela Roberts, who appears in the film discussing her work with marmosets, says: “OCD is a much-misunderstood condition, and one of the aims of this film was to show just how devastating it is for people who have to live with it. Unfortunately, the treatments for the disorder – as is the case for many mental health disorders – are just not good enough. This is why we need a better understanding of obsessive and compulsive behaviours in general, which can only happen by studying aspects of these behaviours in animals.”

The University of Cambridge is one of the signatories of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. In 2015, it won an Openness Award for its film Fighting cancer: Animal research at Cambridge, which went behind the scenes at one of its animal facilities and showed how mice are helping tackle cancer.

At the awards ceremony, held at Wellcome Collection in London, Tony Davidge from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute was highly commended in the Public Engagement Activities category for his leadership role in delivering a work experience activity to local school pupils, as well as leading ‘Mouse House – Challenge Project’, in which 45 local college students explored why animals are used in research and ethical and welfare issues involved.

Further more information about animal research at Cambridge 

Date awarded

04 December 2017

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