Multiple sclerosis researcher Professor Richard Reynolds shared insights into his team’s work in a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit.
I enjoyed the chance to interact with a wide community and to talk about my passion for MS research and animal welfare Professor Richard Reynolds
Reddit is a social news platform that gives people the opportunity to ask questions to field experts live. Among all the groups and communities in Reddit, the Science ‘subreddit’ (or community page) is one of the most popular. The platform regularly hosts AMAs, or “Ask Me Anything” sessions; a live interview with any member of Reddit.
About the MS live AMA
Richard Reynolds is Professor of Cellular Neurobiology at Imperial. His research focuses on understanding the reasons for damage to neurons in the brain in multiple sclerosis (MS) and how we can develop drugs to stop it.
Richard did his first Reddit AMA not only to share with the community his knowledge and expertise on MS, but also to talk about why and how we still need to use animals in research. Richard is also Chair of the 3Rs Advisory Group for the College and works to improve and disseminate the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) principles among Imperial researchers. As such, he is well placed to talk about how research involving animals still forms an important element of MS research, without been undertaken lightly.
A great number of questions were submitted on the Reddit AMA throughout the two hour long session, and users showed a deep interest in Richard’s work and expertise.
From B-cells to brains: Answering a variety of questions
Richard responded to over 15 questions during the session, including specific questions about B-cell targeting therapies and stem cell therapies for MS, but also more general ones like the hurdles that hinder MS research, as well as current knowledge of how the brain works in general.
Many users also were interested to know about animal models used in MS, both classical ones (such as Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or ‘EAE’) and new rat models, and how Richard’s work takes into consideration the welfare of the animals.
Richard dedicated a good amount of his time giving thorough answers about how his group have developed a new refined model and how the increased use of human tissue has resulted in a reduction in the total number of animals used.
The AMA gave insight into Richard’s work and how animals still play an important role in MS research. The AMA was well received by the Reddit community and helped to spread the concept of ‘good animal welfare for good science’.
The importance of communication
During the two-hour session, Richard commented how he “enjoyed the chance to interact with a wide community and to talk about my passion for MS research and animal welfare”.
This AMA was the first held with an Imperial researcher talking about use of animals in science. In line with the Imperial involvement in the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research (May 2014), we are planning to have regular AMAs with researchers who contribute to the dissemination and improvement regarding the principles of the 3Rs (Reduction, Replacement, Refinement) at the College and in the scientific community.
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