SCIENTISTS from the North-East joined in the debate as students discussed whether using animals for medical research was morally justifiable.

Prof. Andrew Jackson, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University, and Dr Jarrod Bailey, a research scientist at Cruelty Free International, visited Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School as pupils debated the motion which features as part of GCSE RE and A-level philosophy. The scientists were joined on the debating panel by sixth form students Jessica Tomlinson and Tory Connolly (against the motion) and Aidan Ball (for the motion).

Eighty pupils listened to arguments from both sides with Prof. Jackson making a case for his work on a treatment for epilepsy, saying that, whilst he made use of computer modelling and tissue cultures, to understand how the treatment affects a whole organism required testing on macaque monkeys. In opposition, Dr Bailey said using animals to test human treatments was bad science, as well as being morally suspect.

David Jones, the school’s head of RE and philosophy, said: “There was no shortage of excellent comments and questions from the students which meant the event overran by 20 minutes but, despite this, a number of students stayed back afterwards to question the speakers further.”