Barbara Stagno, President and Executive Director
Barbara Stagno has worked since 1995 as a campaign director for a national animal protection organization, focusing largely on the use of animals in experiments. She has coordinated numerous campaigns to oppose animal abuse in corporate, university and government laboratories, resulting in the termination of some of those experiments.
Barbara studied biology at Michigan State University for four years, has a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College in music, and an Associate’s Degree in nursing from Excelsior College. She has worked as a Registered Nurse, specializing in critical care and patient advocacy, in addition to her work for animals.
Lawrence D’Antonio, Board Member
Lawrence D’Antonio, Ph.D., is Professor of Mathematics at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He received his doctorate from Syracuse University in 1986, doing research in Fourier analysis. Over the years he has shifted his focus to the history of mathematics (partly reflecting his interests as an undergraduate philosophy major). He has also become very interested in bioinformatics, having published several papers studying G-quadruplexes, three dimensional structures that can form in DNA and RNA, and which seem to play a role in regulating gene expression. Bioinformatics is emerging as an important area with applications for replacing the use of animals in research, particularly drug development.
Matthew Calarco, Board Member
Matthew Calarco, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, where he teaches courses on animal ethics and applied ethics. He studied philosophy as an undergraduate at San Diego State University, where he received his B.A., before transferring to SUNY Binghamton to complete his PhD in 2001.
He serves as faculty adviser to student groups active in animal and environmental issues and also has a longstanding interest in a wide variety of social justice issues and movements. He has published extensively on animal studies and Continental philosophy, including such books as Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida (Columbia University Press, 2008) and Thinking through Animals: Identity, Difference, Indistinction (Stanford University Press, 2014).
Dr Colleen McDuling, Science Advisor
(Honoris causa), BSc (Microbiology and Human Physiology), BSc (Med)(Hons)(Clinical Pharmacology), BTh(Religious Ethics), MSc(Med.Sc.)(Molecular Biochemistry)
Colleen started her career in South Africa as a medical technologist. She later became a medical research scientist. Having seen too much of vivisection and the way animals, and particularly small mammals like rats, mice, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits, are hurt, maimed and killed in unending useless experiments, she branched out into animal behavior, which is her true passion. She became a specialist in the field of the behavior, science and applied ethology of rodents and rabbits. Colleen has campaigned extensively for their rights and welfare across all sectors. She has served as a scientific advisor to several organizations world-wide.
Over the years Colleen has rescued a number of rats and mice from laboratories and adopted mice and other small mammals from rescue centers.
She was awarded the honorary title of Doctor for her contribution to the sentience, intelligence and emotional lives of animals.
Currently, Colleen writes the science editorials for the UK-based Rat and Mouse Magazine. A strict vegan for 20 years, she is a keen veganic gardener, growing some of her own food, and skilled vegan chef. When inspiration flows, she writes poetry and children’s fiction stories about animals. And she is an award-winning photographer!
Murray J. Cohen, M.D., Advisory Board
Dr. Murry J. Cohen has been a physician and psychiatrist for more than 40 years. He practiced internal medicine in the United States Army. He was an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of The Narcotics Rehabilitation Center at New York City's Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he published the results of clinical research in the field of substance abuse and addiction. Dr. Cohen was chief of the psychiatric out-patient department at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. Currently he practices psychiatry in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
From 1987 to 2002, Dr. Cohen chaired and co-chaired the Medical Research Modernization Committee, (MRMC), a national not-for-profit group of mostly health care professionals who evaluated medical/scientific research with the goal of promoting sensible, reliable, and efficient methods of inquiry pertinent to human health needs. MRMC opposed the animal model approach to biomedical research on a scientific basis as being inherently flawed and methodologically unsound.
Dr. Cohen has authored letters, articles, chapters, congressional testimony, and books on animal experimentation and other animal issues, including Alcoholic Rats and Other Alcohol Research Using Animals, Attitudes Toward Neutering and Euthanasia: Psychological and Religious Influences (in Overpopulation of Cats and Dogs), The Irrelevance of Animal Experimentation in Modern Psychiatry and Psychology (in Future Medical Research Without the Use of Animals: Facing the Challenge), and Aping Science: A Critical Analysis of Research at the Yerkes Regional Primate Center.
Jo Varshney, DVM, Ph.D., Advisory Board
Dr. Jyotika Varshney is the Founder & CEO at VeriSIM Life (VSL), a San Francisco-based firm actively engaged in creating better medicines through AI-driven biosystem simulations to truly personalize patient treatment. Her relentless passion for reducing animal testing in research and coding led to the formation of VSL, where she is leading a team of world-class scientists, machine learning engineers, and in silico biosimulation experts to bring clarity and confidence to drug development through AI-driven mechanistic modeling & simulation.
Dr. Varshney has a background in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Oncology/Genomics from the University of Minnesota. She is the inventor of VSL’s core technology and spearheaded initial development, optimization, and scale-up of the platform. During this venture, she has front-led numerous collaborative engagements with a host of industrial and academic institutes and is working tirelessly to realize the dream and vision of VSL.
Dr. Varshney is a dynamic and celebrated leader and has received numerous awards as well as delivered keynotes at several conferences. Additionally, she serves on several advisory boards as Scientific/Technical advisors to help other Founders commercialize their frontier end science and technology.
Ryan Franks, Science Advisory Board
Ryan Franks is the founder and CEO of Aether and the inventor of the Aether 1 Bioprinter, currently the most advanced 3D bioprinter available. Aether has been making waves in the biotech scene by establishing research collaborations with several prominent universities and research institutions, who will be using Aether 1 Bioprinters, donated by Aether, for advanced research projects. The donations will promote scientific innovation by providing early access to the world's most advanced 3D bioprinter. A key goal for Ryan Franks is to see 3D printed tissue contribute to replacing animal testing. To that end, all the collaborating institutions that will receive the donated Aether 1 units have agreed not to carry out any animal testing for these collaborations. The Aether 1 Bioprinter was listed in April 2017 as the top choice for "Medical Devices Expected to Change the World by 2020."
John Gluck, PhD, Science Advisory Board
John P. Gluck is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of New Mexico and Research Professor at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, GeorgetownUniversity. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, under the mentorship of Harry F. Harlow; completed a Clinical Fellowship at the University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; and a Fellowship in Bioethics at GeorgetownUniversity and the National Institutes of Health.
He was the founding Director of the Research Ethics Service Project, Co- Director of the Health Sciences Center Institute for Ethics, and Director of the Clinical Psychology Training Program at the University of New Mexico.
His long-term ethical focus is concerned with understanding what characteristics an animal must possess in order to gain ethical protection from the norms of a society and includes the books: Applied Ethics in Animal Research published by Purdue University, and The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice published by Oxford University Press and co-authored with Tom Beauchamp, F. Barbara Orlans, Rebecca Dresser, and David Morton.
In 2016 The University of Chicago press published his memoir Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals: A Primate Scientists Ethical Journey which describes his transformation from researcher to animal protectionist.
Qingsong Zhu, PhD, Science Advisory Board
Dr. Qingsong Zhu is the Chief Operating Officer of Insilico Medicine, Inc. a biotech firm focused on using artificial intelligence for drug discovery and aging research, where he is responsible for the company’s operations and drug development.
Dr. Zhu obtained his Ph.D. degree from Kansas State University in biochemistry. He received his postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Davidson in breast cancer research. He has over 12 years of experience in genomics research and drug development.
His latest entrepreneurial endeavors are focused on improving the early diagnosis and personalized treatment of cancer and other age-related diseases.
Lawrence A. Hansen, MD, Science Advisory Board
Dr. Lawrence A. Hansen has a long and distinguished career in medicine, research and teaching in the areas of neuroscience, pathology and neuroanatomy. He is Professor of Pathology and Neurosciences at University of California, San Diego, (UCSD) School of Medicine, where he has been since 1988. His exceptional qualities as an educator have earned him multiple awards for outstanding excellence in teaching.
Dr. Hansen's research is focused on the pathology and pathogenesis of dementing illnesses, in particular the Lewy variant of Alzheimer disease for which his work is very well known. He has published over 150 peer review journal publications as well as numerous book chapters and review articles in his many areas of expertise.
Dr. Hansen is also an attending on the clinical neuropathology service at UCSD working with neurosurgeons and neuro-oncologists on brain tumor diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Hansen believes strongly that science and compassion for animals are not mutually exclusive. He was part of an effort to end dog-killing teaching exercises at UCSD’s School of Medicine that were required curriculum in the first year Physiology and Pharmacology courses. There is still an elective dog-killing lab in Pharmacology, but now far fewer dogs are killed.
Jean Hofve, DVM, Advisory Board
Jean Hofve, DVM, is a retired holistic veterinarian and co-author of Paleo Dog: Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight, and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf and The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook with nutritionist Dr. Celeste Yarnall. She has worked and consulted with many animal rights and welfare groups over the years, including the Animal Protection Institute, In Defense of Animals, Mercy for Animals, and many others. Dr. Jean has written hundreds of articles, has lectured on pet topics throughout the US, and has appeared on radio and TV around the world. Her award-winning website, www.littlebigcat.com, is a respected source of information on feline health, nutrition and behavior. Dr. Jean currently lives in Denver with her cat Sundance.
Karen Davis, PhD, Advisory Board
Karen Davis, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. Her essays appear in Experiencing Animal Minds, Sister Species, and many other publications on the lives of animals and the links of oppression.
Karen Davis’s books include Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry; More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality; A Home for Henny, and Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless “Poultry” Potpourri. Karen was profiled in the Genesis Award-winning article “For the Birds” in The Washington Post and was featured in “Won’t Back Down” in the Altoona Mirror in Pennsylvania. Karen is in the National Animal Rights Hall of Fame “for outstanding contributions to animal liberation.” http://www.upc-online.org/karenbio.htm.
Jennie Hunter, Special Programs Coordinator
Jennie has a Political Science degree from Emory University and has worked in experiential marketing. She volunteers for a rabbit rescue group and previously worked with rescue organizations helping homeless dogs and cats while living abroad in Latin America.
Rama Ganesan, PhD, MBA; Researcher/Writer
Rama Ganesan, PhD MBA, graduated with a First in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, and completed a PhD in Animal Learning at the University of Wales. This, together with post-doctoral research, has given Rama over a decade of experience with animal experimentation in university labs. Subsequently Rama obtained an MBA from the University of Arizona, which opened doors to further experience working in drug development and pharmaceutical companies.
About 8 years ago, Rama began to question the ethics of using animals after reading about animal rights. Since then she has focused her efforts on animal advocacy. Her experience with research and business gives her a unique insider’s view of how animals are routinely and unnecessarily abused and exploited. Rama has made over 700 presentations to youth in schools and colleges to advocate for animals. She has been featured in several animal rights podcasts, she has written for animal rights magazines/books and websites, and she has been an invited speaker for animal rights events in the Midwest.
Natasha Sainsbury, Graphic designer
Natasha Sainsbury is a self taught graphic designer, writer, and lifelong animal rights advocate. She has worked with numerous animal organizations and on awareness campaigns. In 2005 she helped spearhead one of the most effective grassroots boycott of a major motion picture; Flicka. She now uses her skills to assist those who are working on behalf of animals, and is motivated to make a difference in theworld for all of the earth’s inhabitants.
Natasha spent over a decade volunteering with animal rescue charities, and in a hands on role rehabilitating horses suffering from abuse and neglect. She is a member of the Animal Rights Leadership Council, whose mission is to recruit and develop future leaders of the movement. She runs Animal Rights Graphics (www.facebook.com/animalrightsgraphics) - a resource for activists using social media.