An organisation that argues for the essential role of humane animal research in advancing medical science is presenting the public with a stark choice in an advertising campaign rolled out across five US cities.

As part of the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s (FBR) multi-million dollar ResearchSaves campaign, which encourages public support for medical and scientific research using animal models, billboards in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore present a diptych with an image of a young child on one side and a white rat on the other. The accompanying caption is “Who would you rather see live?”

According to FBR president Frankie Trull, the billboards “ask people to consider an important ethical dilemma we face as a society: would you rather do away with animal research or have the new medical cures, treatments and therapies for which so many people desperately wait?”.

The ResearchSaves campaign, which includes television, outdoor, online and radio advertising, has the support of leading US academic institutions, non-profit organisations, hospitals, patient advocacy groups and healthcare corporations, FBR says.

Founded by Trull in 1981, the Foundation for Biomedical Research is a non-profit organisation reliant on private funding.

Trull is also president of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a sister organisation that “works to safeguard the future of biomedical research” on behalf of universities, medical schools, teaching hospitals, voluntary health agencies, professional societies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and other stakeholders involved directly in animal research and  “committed to the responsible and humane use of these animals”.

A third string to Trull’s bow is as founder and president of Policy Directions Inc, a Washington, DC-based government relations/strategic government communications firm whose clients include Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, pharmaceutical companies such as Merck & Co, and contract research organisations such as Covance and Charles River Laboratories.

FBR, NABR and Policy Directions all operate out of the same address in Washington, DC.