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This show features an interview with author Christopher Locke on The Enlightenment Adventures, his young adult book series focused around animal rights and sentience. We also hear a fascinating talk from Dr. Charu Chandrasekera on human-biology-centered alternatives to animal testing. Guest cohosts Leah Thompson and Nadine Coffin join host Elyse to discuss accountability in the animal rights community and creating a culture of consent and mutual respect in activist spaces.
Dr. Charu Chandrasekera on Cheaper, Faster, and More Relevant Human-Biology-Based Alternatives to Animal Testing
Dr. Charu Chandrasekera is a leading expert on the alternatives to animal testing. She is the founding Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM), the first and only research center dedicated to developing, validating, and promoting alternatives to animal testing. The centre was founded in October 2017 at the University of Windsor. Dr. Chandrasekera obtained her Ph. D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. As an experienced scientist, science policy expert, and animal lover, Dr. Chandrasekera advocates for a paradigm shift in which human biology serves as the gold standard for clinical research.
Through Dr. Chandrasekera’s research, she has found that there are viable alternatives to animal experimentation that are cheaper, faster, and more relevant to human biology. Currently, 95% of drugs tested and found safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. Of the 5% remaining, only half of those make it through to market, while the other half are withdrawn due to warnings of unpredictable side effects in humans. All of the species of animals used in laboratory testing are separated from human biology by crucial genetic, biochemical, and physiological factors that were brought upon by evolution. This is further confounded by the experimentally induced diseases, and even in the way we house and breed these animals. These factors mislead entire fields into wasting decades of time and billions of dollars,
In this segment, Dr. Chandrasekera urges the scientific community to uphold the highest scientific and ethical standards to reduce the use of animal testing as much as possible, and replace it whenever and wherever possible. She explains why and how animal testing hinders scientific progress in clinical research.
Animal Advocate and Author Christopher Locke on Teaching Compassion for Non-Human Animals through Storytelling
Christopher Locke is a plant-powered author who advocates for animals regularly through social media and through his writing. His love for writing started at a very young age. In 2004, he read Fast Food Nation and came to the life-changing realization that an essential part of being a compassionate person is to treat all living creatures with respect. He became an avid animal advocate, eating a plant-based diet, living a vegan lifestyle, and volunteering his time for organizations that make the world a kinder place. He honed his writing skills at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television.
After working for over a decade in the television industry, Christopher now uses his writing skills full-time to educate and raise awareness for animal advocacy and compassion towards all living beings. His two books, entitled Persimmon Takes on Humanity and Vincent and The Dissidents, combine his passions for storytelling and animal advocacy into a young adult series called The Enlightenment Adventures.
In this interview, we learn more about Christopher’s inspirations, research into animal cruelty, and application of concepts for The Enlightenment Adventures. He also comments on the reactions of his readers to the characters he has created.