Sunday, June 27, 2010

Biddy Martin’s Argument

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin’s opinions about the use of animals in research are important because it is probably within her power to severely limit or even eliminate much of her university’s animal experimentation. At least until the Board of Regents fired her.

Her defense of animal research in her op-ed in the June 26, 2010Wisconsin State Journal is worth looking at again. I said in my previous post that her comments could be construed to be an abuse of authority given her distortion of the plain facts. In her defense, it might be that she has been misled. It isn’t improbable that someone else drafted much of her letter and that she simply affixed her name to it -- without any genuine consideration and fact checking -- out of easily predictable allegiance to the institution she was hire to lead.

But, given her position as the leader of a purportedly scholarly institution, she seems to have shirked her responsibility to think carefully about the claims that were being made in her name and the utter failure of the op-ed to address the question at hand.

The question at hand is:

Given the fact that Dane County has become the Primate Experimentation Capital of the World, should local elected representatives take a look at the reasons primate experimentation is controversial?

In spite of the specificity of this question, Chancellor Martin’s op-ed relied on a sort of Three Card Monte to deflect attention from the matter at hand. She wrote: "For all of the attention that animal research has had in recent months, including the Dane County Board's consideration of a resolution on the topic,..."

But that’s not the topic of the resolution.

If a student had written Martin’s op-ed, I don’t think they should have received a passing grade. At the very least, honest argument requires one to address the salient points. Martin should have said something along the line of: “It is ethical to experiment on monkeys because they are not as smart as most humans.” Or: “Monkeys have no feelings, so what we do to them doesn’t matter.” Or: "The Bible says we have dominion over all other animals."

Instead, she (or the letter’s author) appealed to benefits that have purportedly resulted from experiments on animals generally. Apparently, looking only at experiments on monkeys, the author was unable to name many; in fact, they didn’t accurately name any, in spite of two specific claims about the use of monkeys: the false claim that Howard Temin’s (co-)discovery of reverse transcriptase was dependent on experiments on monkeys, and the false implicit claim that the university’s embryonic stem cell research using monkeys was in some way associated with the recently announced success in treating injury-induced blindness in humans with adult stem cells from the patients’ own eyes.

Biddy Martin’s op-ed is either a refusal or else an inability to address the issue at hand.

At its core it is both anti-democratic and anti-intellectual. Chancellor Martin argues that the public's elected representatives should not engage in fact-gathering and deliberation about the things happening in their community and then fails to address the issue at hand, believing apparently that the large body of research pointing out the similarities between monkeys’ and humans’ minds and emotions is not worthy of even a moment’s notice.

It appears to be a case of old fashioned bigotry against those who look different, a case of money taking the place of thought, or else, as I mentioned above, a case of one marching in lock-step with one’s institutional comrades, a sort of nationalism on a smaller scale: UW right or wrong.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Planet Biddy

See: Biddy Martin: Animal studies save lives, limit suffering. Wisconsin State Journal. June 26, 2010.

Apparently, the simple idea that local citizens might actually look carefully at the experiments being conducted on monkeys at the university is a frightening idea to Chancellor Biddy Martin. Otherwise, she would welcome the opportunity to share the details with everyone in Dane County. Her protestation suggests loudly that she thinks there are details that should remain hidden and topics that should not be discussed. And that is the real reason she had her letter published today; the Board of Supervisors will discuss a resolution on Tuesday to consider the creation of a citizens panel to examine the use of monkeys in Dane County. See

Her letter seems to be an abuse of authority. As the Chancellor of our largest public university she has a clear obligation to speak honestly to the public. She did not do that here.

She begins with a shell game. Doctors in Italy transplanted adult stem cells from healthy tissue in a patient's own eyes and restored their sight. But Martin implies that the study of embryonic stem cells using monkeys at the university is somehow related to this report. It's not.

Then she brandishes UW researcher and Nobel Prize winner Howard Temin and says that his "His discovery of a key enzyme depended on several animal models, including monkeys, and peeled back the fundamental mystery of AIDS and other diseases that are caused by retroviruses." She should review his publications more carefully. The overwhelming bulk of his work was based on the study of chicken cell cultures infected with a tumor-causing chicken virus. She'll have to dig pretty deep to find any evidence whatsoever that his discovery of this enzyme (reverse transcriptase) "depended" on monkeys. And the bulk of his papers on HIV are reports of his study of HIV, available only from humans.

She then appeals to influenza; but much controversy surrounds the recent swine-flu scare and massive public expenditure on vaccine. She does not mention that researchers have criticized UW flu-researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka's work on the Spanish flu saying that it poses too much risk to public health. The recent chilling disclosure that antibiotic-resistant germs were being produced in a UW lab without permission from NIH, and the subsequent attempt to shun responsibility should be a wake up call to everyone who has believed that the university is trustworthy and careful.

She claims that the use of animals is highly regulated, apparently believing that the public and County Supervisors are too dull to remember the recent unprecedented joint inspection by USDA and NIH that found nearly 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, many of them quite serious. Or the possibility that researchers may soon be charged with criminal violations of Wisconsin's Crimes Against Animals laws. Or the recently aired dirty laundry involving the UW veterinary staff and Michele Basso over her years of fumbling and sloppy brain experiments on monkeys.

Chancellor Martin says misleadingly: "The university is committed to treating animals with the respect, care and ethical consideration they deserve, and avoiding their use whenever possible." But she has flatly refused to discuss the "ethical consideration they deserve," and that question is at the heart of County Resolution 35.

She says finally: "We have opened our laboratories, publicized our research worldwide and participated in vigorous debates about animal research."

In fact, the university shredded 628 videotapes of experiments on monkeys rather than allow the public to see just one. They have fought vigorously and stonewalled for months on end to block public access to public records. The university has never (as in NEVER) participated in any public debate whatsoever about its use of animals. The two UW-affiliated researchers who have participated have made it very clear that they were not representing the university.

And opened the labs? Maybe on planet Biddy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not So Deep Thinking

The passage below comes from “Local animal rights activists are making strides with new tactics,” an article by reporter Deborah Ziff posted on the Wisconsin State Journal’s website on June 12, 2010.
Eric Sandgren, director of UW-Madison's animal care and use programs, said the university has been "tremendously influenced" by animal rights groups. The pressure has prompted the university to be more open with meetings and records, Sandgren said.

"They keep putting it in front of my face that I'm responsible for these animals," he said. "Yes, it does make me take it more seriously."

However, research opponents say they are still far from their ultimate goal: the elimination or significant reduction of animals used for research. Many scientists believe animal research is well-regulated and greatly benefits science and medicine.

"I have thought very hard about this," Sandgren said. "I have considered the ethics. The animal activists have thought very hard about this and considered the ethics. We reach very different conclusions, using the same ethical tools. That does not mean either of us has done anything wrong."

Eric Sandgren claims that pressure from animal rights groups has prompted the university to be more open with meetings and records. This isn’t accurate.

About six years ago, the university tried to bar public attendance at and any recording of meetings of the six animal care and use committees. University legal counsel told them that they could bar public attendance at only the closed sessions, which they continue to do even when they have few if any items on the agenda that would legally justify a closed meeting.

During this same period, the university has become much less open regarding public records. A lawsuit was recently filed against them over this exact problem. They are increasingly using high fees, and even open-ended cost "estimates" as barriers to public access to public records. And the redactions – the parts censored from public view – are often significant.

Reporter Ziff writes: “However, research opponents say they are still far from their ultimate goal ... Many scientists believe animal research is well-regulated and greatly benefits science and medicine.”

Ziff misleadingly and conveniently mislabels people who are opposed to cruelty as being opposed to research. [But see the comment.]

And she is errors again when she claims that: "Many scientists believe animal research is well-regulated." In fact, even the USDA’s Office of Inspector General has found that USDA oversight of animal research is lax and largely ineffective. It is unlikely that Ziff interviewed scientists who were not financially vested in the system or who do not have a personal or professional interest in controlling public perception.

Eric Sandgren says that he has thought very hard about the use of animal and has considered the ethics. Eric Sandgren may believe this, but an independent observer would probably say that his thinking wasn’t very deep or productive.

Eric Sandgren has explained clearly on a number of occasions why he believes animal research is ethical: it is legal.

This is the part and the parcel that has resulted from Eric Sandgren’s “very hard thought” about human society’s instrumental use of animals. But even his claim that he finds if acceptable due to its current legality must be taken with a grain of salt.

In an article co-written by reporter Ziff and placed on line June 4, barely a week before the article discussed here, Eric Sandgren commented on the university’s illegal decompression experiments on sheep, said: “Any kind of an approach that puts scientists or anyone else at risk for legal action obviously is going to have a kind of dampening effect.”

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Primate Center Director Hopeful Calls Sifting and Winnowing “Undemocratic”

Dane County Supervisors have received another letter from another supporter of primate experimentation urging them not to consider the use of monkeys in Dane County.

Coming on the heals of Chancellor Biddy Martin’s plea to the supervisors to ignore the matter altogether, to look the other way, the new letter from Wisconsin Primate Center directorship applicant Andrew J. Parker, could be seen as a demonstration to his potential employer of his willingness to oppose public scrutiny and potential concern about the university’s use of monkeys.

He argues oddly and nonsensically that public scrutiny and evaluation is “undemocratic.”

His comments are evidence of an almost charming naiveté about the rough and tumble world of primate research funding and research funding generally in the U.S. Maybe British biomedical research is less corrupt?

His fundamental claim is that because the Alliance for Animals has offered to provide very basic support to the Citizens Advisory Panel, that the Panel will be “ethically compromised from the outset.” But his argument is fallacious. Unlike university-paid oversight committee members or people hoping to be hired by the university, no one on the Citizens Advisory Panel will be paid or have a vested financial interest in the outcome.

Parker says naively or misleadingly: “The practice of research ethics is nowadays well developed: it would, for example, be unthinkable to allow the tobacco industry to sponsor a research program into the fundamental safety of cigarette smoking.”

Unthinkable? I guess he has never heard of Phillip-Morris, its grants to UCLA researchers studying smoking in adolescents or Edythe D. London.

NIH to tighten rules on conflicts

New regulations would increase oversight of payments to researchers.

After a wave of financial scandals over the past few years involving biomedical researchers, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposed far-reaching changes today that would lead to much tighter oversight of agency-funded extramural investigators and their institutions.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Biddy Urges Less Winnowing

UW-Madison Chancellor Urges Dane County Board Not to Sift or Winnow

Madison, Wisc.... In a ballsy move that has shocked and surprised many UW-Madison alumni, Chancellor Biddy Martin has taken spray paint to the beloved plaque at Bascom Hall.

Asked why she did it, the Chancellor answered, “It’s time to modernize this institution. Sure, once, long ago, fearless sifting and winnowing made sense, but we’re over that now. There’s just too much money at stake to risk a fair critical analysis of our policies.”

Campus maintenance crews have been asked to evaluate the possibility of grinding the offending words off the plaque.

“Fearless sifting and winnowing was a quaint idea, even in its time” opined Martin, “but its really scary in this day and age when so much money rides on our uncritical embrace of each experiment on a monkey.”

Chancellor Martin followed up on her spray painting party by dashing off a letter to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. The Chancellor argued that enough argument about the use of monkeys has already taken place and that the County should leave well enough alone.

The Chancellor had to limit her remarks to this reporter saying that she had to get back to work on a public statement about the hundreds of recent animal welfare, biosafety, and state anticruelty violations at the university that she is still trying to explain away.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sheep decompression or else!

It probably isn’t unusual for newspapers in college towns to be the schools’ strong boosters; I suspect it is the happy norm.

But there is a difference between being a booster and placing an institution’s interests above the public interest in unbiased substantive reporting. Newspapers’ first responsibility is to assure that its reporting is fair and as accurate as possible.

As possible is a necessary caveat because we all make mistakes and often have to act on less than complete or wholly verifiable information; our recognized likely ignorance sometimes just has to be accepted as we move ahead.

Newspapers, reporters, and editors are probably forced to move ahead in spite of their own acknowledged ignorance much more often than the rest of us, because we expect them to report the news as soon as possible. This acknowledgment rightly results in reporters qualifying their statements when they are less than very sure of their accuracy.

Newspapers do the public a service by voicing and explaining an informed opinion. Opinions, however, should be clearly identified by confining them to the editorial pages or to columns by writers who are voicing their personal opinions.

The public’s trust is violated when bias displaces balance in articles that are presented as news. Because the public expects a newspaper to be somewhat fair and balanced, to present the facts and to call attention to differing opinions when the subject is controversial or when the facts are in dispute, they are easily fooled when a newspaper chooses to do otherwise.

Propaganda is bias passed off as fact. Propaganda is particularly odious when agents independent of government, that purport to be guardians of the public interest in knowing the facts misuse the public’s trust in order to dupe them into holding the opinion that the agent wants them to hold. The case of newspapers or other media that purport to report the facts fairly, but which then shuffle or select facts to say, suggest, or promote a bias is this problem’s zenith.

I said just above that propaganda is bias passed off as fact. I almost said that propaganda is bias knowingly passed off as fact, but whether everyone involved recognizes the bias or not, it hardly matters. Media, particularly daily newspapers, have a responsibility to guard against promoting an agenda in their news reporting. If, for whatever reason, they routinely fail to do this, then propaganda seems to still be a reasonably good name for what is printed and being called news.

So that brings me to the long enduring history of the Wisconsin State Journal’s reporting on research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and particularly problems associated with its use of animals. On the one hand, it isn’t unusual to see bioresearch conducted at the university showcased on the paper’s front page. On the other hand, it is their pattern to downplay problems with the university’s animal care and use, to downplay or simply ignore controversies related to their use of animals.

More recently, this bias has been applied to the university’s involvement in highly infectious disease research and the problems associated with the university's oversight of biosafety on campus and elsewhere. Years, sometimes decades of past problems with their animal care and use or biosafety are rarely mentioned by the Wisconsin State Journal; every newly discovered problem is typically presented as a new and surprising development and no mention of a possible pattern of problems suggestive of deep institutional or cultural problems gets mentioned. And don’t worry, whatever problem actually seeps out into the light of day, the paper dutifully reports that the problem has already been fixed.

A stark and illuminating instance of the Wisconsin State Journal violating the public trust was the recent front story reporting on a decision by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith’s ruling on a petition filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Alliance for Animals, that there was reasonable cause to believe that the actions of at least nine researchers and staff at the university involved in killing sheep by means of decompression were criminal and should be investigated by a special prosecutor.

Instead of covering the story fairly, the Wisconsin State Journal came to the university’s defense and argued, in effect, that the university shouldn’t have to obey the law. But such an overt claim would have been see for what it is. Instead, the paper resorted to a ploy that has become the norm for politicians, they tried to frighten the public:

UW-Madison scientists worry about chilling effect of potential charges
By DEBORAH ZIFF and RON SEELY | Wisconsin State Journal | June 4, 2010

The article was little more than a litany of university officials’ and Frankie Trull’s, the industry’s top propagandist, false and wild claims about the effects of requiring researchers to obey the law. Sprinkled throughout were unverified wild claims about the importance and results of the illegal experiments.

Why did Ziff and Seely fail so miserably to meet their responsibility to the public? Moreover, why didn’t the news editor make them rewrite their story to give it a little more balance?

The answer must lie in the paper’s culture, something like the groupthink and situational pressures talked about by Philip Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007).

Here are a few things they should have done differently:

They should have asked Eric Sandgren about the many times he has said that the university’s animal care and use is heavily regulated and why researchers shouldn’t have to follow the few state laws that do apply to them.

They should have asked him why he was unaware of the state law barring killing animals by decompression since it is his job at the Research Animal Resource Director to assure that the research at the university complies with all rules and regulations.

They should have been skeptical of claims being made by university staff. When Dale Bjorling, chairman of the department of surgical sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, said the sheep experiments have saved lives and prevented suffering among Navy divers and that the sheep experiments have resulted in more accurate decompression tables for divers, he should have been asked for evidence to this effect. I don’t think there is any.

When Bjorling said that animal research has led to important advances in science and medicine, he should have been asked what that has to do with the university breaking the law.

When Bjorling said that decompression in humans can’t be (meaningfully, productively?) modeled with a computer, Ziff and Seely should have glanced at the easily accessible NIH National Library of Medicine's on line database of 91 million scientific articles. If they had taken just a moment, they would have found much information on the computer modeling of decompression, and it appears that this, coupled with data from human divers, is the leading edge of research on decompression and the evaluation of dive tables.

It appears that both Ziff and Seely lost track of the subject – university scientists breaking the law – and tried to defend the university’s crimes by appealing to animal research generally. How else to account for the silly non sequitur: “I really think that shows an incredible lack of understanding about this research,” Bjorling said. “If some drugs were not perfected through animal testing, there could have been enormous human revolves back to the philosophical question. Who are we going to put at risk?”

But none of the sheep experiments involve drug development. Hello?

And consider this gem:
The controversy attached to UW-Madison animal research could also harm the university's ability to lure top talent, said Donna Paulnock, interim director of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.

“This could leave the impression that Wisconsin is not a good place to do biomedical research,” Paulnock said. “Certainly recruiting and retaining both the best and the brightest could be affected.”
Apparently, the “best and brightest” vivisectors are frightened off by the prospect of having to obey the law. That's worth following up on; I'm sure the public has an interest in the integrity of researchers at the stste university. No?

This article is simple and not very subtle fear mongering. If scientists have to obey the laws, they fret, all research will stop!, there will be no new drugs!, the (dishonest) best will be frightened away or refuse to come! (why would that matter?), there will be more human suffering!!! all because no one in Wisconsin is allowed to kill animals by means of decompression.

Great reporting. Good job helping the public understand what is actually going on.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

UW-Madison vs the Sheep

The University of Wisconsin’s official statement regarding the possibility that criminal charges may result from Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith's decision that there is probable cause to believe that university researchers violated one of the state’s crimes against animals statutes is included at the bottom of this entry.

Like so many of their claims regarding their use of animals, much of what they say about the decompression of the sheep has a ring of self-defense, of fabrication, of something other than the truth. Even more contrived and creatively deceptive are the statements and coverage of this situation in the ersatz state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. I’ll write about that fanciful coverage in a separate post.

Lets consider the university’s official defense of its more than two decades of these excruciatingly painful experiments: “Findings from the study are already in use by the Navy and have been applied to mitigate decompression sickness in submariners and divers.”

Findings from the study [the study?] are already in use by the Navy. I wonder which findings those are?

The use of sheep in decompression experiments has a long thin history at the university. The most recent paper stemming from this line of research is:

Oxygen pre-breathing decreases dysbaric diseases in UW sheep undergoing hyperbaric exposure. Sobakin AS, Wilson MA, Lehner CE, Dueland RT, Gendron-Fitzpatrick AP. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2008.

But oxygen pre-breathing as a means to mitigate or prevent decompression sickness isn’t a new idea, so this can’t be one of the findings being used by the Navy. The Navy undoubtedly is well informed on the use of oxygen prebreathing and may use it, but not because of research conducted at the University of Wisconsin.

See for example: The effect of extended O2 prebreathing on altitude decompression sickness and venous gas bubbles. Waligora JM, Horrigan DJ Jr, Conkin J. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1987. This research was conducted at the Space Biomedical Research Institute, NASA/Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, using human subjects. The authors write:
The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of extended O2 prebreathing on symptom and bubble incidence during decompressions simulating extravehicular activity. The 38 subjects breathed O2 for a 6-h period prior to decompression to 4.3 psi. The subjects performed upper body exercise for 6 h. Subjects were monitored with a Doppler bubble detector and were encouraged to report all symptoms. Eight subjects were exposed to the same protocol after an 8-h prebreathe. Venous bubbles were detected in 18 of 38 subjects decompressed after the 6-h prebreathe. Four of these subjects reported symptoms of altitude decompression sickness. No symptoms or bubbles were detected in the eight subjects who had prebreathed 8 h.
In fact, researchers James T. Webb and Andrew A. Pilmanus at Brooks Air Force Base cite much earlier work on pure oxygen prebreathing as a means to reduce the occurrence of decompression sickness: Marbarger JP, Kadetz W, Variakojis D, Hansen J. The occurence of decompression sickness following denitrogenation at ground level and altitude. J. Aviat. Med. 1957.

If the university claims that their experiments on sheep have led the Navy to use oxygen prebreathing as a method of controlling decompression sickness, they are either ignorant of the facts, or else are lying. But maybe oxygen prebreathing isn’t what the university’s official statement is referring to.

In the papers below (apparently the complete result of this line of research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), there does not seem to be even one conclusion or “discovery” that the Navy might or even could be using to “mitigate decompression sickness in submariners and divers.” It strongly appears that the only thing mentioned in the papers on decompression sickness published by researchers at the university involving sheep that the Navy might be using “to mitigate decompression sickness in submariners and divers” is oxygen prebreathing.

There seems to be a decade gap in published research on decompression at the university. The second most recent paper is:

Predicting risk of decompression sickness in humans from outcomes in sheep. Ball R, Lehner CE, Parker EC. J Appl Physiol. 1999:
We conclude that the sheep and human data sets are combinable under the scalable LE model with jointly estimated kinetic parameters and PXO. Predicting human responses from sheep only requires adjustment of the response parameters. Although it is tempting to place physiological interpretations on the parameters, they are best viewed as mathematical constructs that are quasiphysiological. We present an application of the model for predicting DCS risk on a dive not included in the calibration database that suggests the practical utility of this approach. Limitations of this study and directions for future research, including a direct test of the allometric scaling hypothesis, are discussed.
This isn’t helpful to Navy divers or submariners. It’s simply a (false and goofy) claim that human and sheep physiological data can be combined in a manner that will be more helpful for predicting the risk of decompression sickness in humans than human physiological data alone.

The next most recent paper is:

Dysbaric osteonecrosis in divers and caisson workers. An animal model. Lehner CE, Adams WM, Dubielzig RR, Palta M, Lanphier EH. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1997:
Dysbaric osteonecrosis was induced successfully in adult sheep after 12 to 13, 24-hour exposures to compressed air (2.6-2.9 atmospheres absolute) during a 2-month period. All exposed sheep had decompression sickness and extensive bone and marrow necrosis in their long bones.... An animal model that can be used to investigate the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of dysbaric osteonecrosis is discussed.
But here, they say simply that they think sheep can be predictive models of dysbaric osteonecrosis in humans. Dysbaric osteonecrosis is the death of bone tissue caused by the expansion of dissolved nitrogen during rapid decompression.

The earlier papers don’t suggest any other possibilities either.

Experimental respiratory decompression sickness in sheep. Atkins CE, Lehner CE, Beck KA, Dubielzig RR, Nordheim EV, Lanphier EH. J Appl Physiol. 1988.

Lack of harmful effects from simulated dives in pregnant sheep. Bolton-Klug ME, Lehner CE, Lanphier EH, Rankin JH. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1983.

Responses of fetal sheep to simulated no-decompression dives. Stock MK, Lanphier EH, Anderson DF, Anderson LC, Phernetton TM, Rankin JH. J Appl Physiol. 1980. (I don’t know where this research was performed. E.H. Lanphier was an author of the three studies above.)

The real reason the university is so miffed at having to obey the state’s laws is money. Their posturing and tears are staged and have no more connection to reality than Hamlet’s father’s ghost. Here’s the real concern:
Neurological Decompression Injury: Is Deep Stop Decompression Protective?
Principal Investigator: Marlowe Eldridge M.D.
Agency: DOD Navy
Status: Pending 10/01/2008-09/31/2011 (~$1,300,000)

This major goal of these studies is to improve our understanding of neurological decompression sickness and help evaluate deep stop use as a protective decompression strategy. We will use our established sheep model of the diver to determine the effects of various decompression scenarios with and without a deep stop on neurological decompression sickness. A variety of MR imaging techniques, will be used evaluate for subtle neurological injury and more importantly to gain insight into the mechanisms that may contribute to decompression neuronal injury.
Oddly, Dr. Eldridge seems not to have published a single paper stemming from his use of his “established sheep model of the diver.” His publication list is available on his website.

His name does show up on one abstract regarding decompression sickness presented at the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. This was also just about the time that his $1.3 million grant seems to have kicked in.

Wisconsin’s law is unambiguous; in its entirety:
Decompression prohibited
No person may kill an animal by means of decompression.
This statute went into effect in 1985; the earliest work cited above was not then illegal.

University administration's statement regarding Circuit Court ruling on submarine rescue studies

June 3, 2010

The university is reviewing Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith's decision to defer animal cruelty charges involving longstanding submarine rescue studies to a special prosecutor.

These studies, using sheep and funded by the Navy, are designed to identify the best ways to prevent or treat decompression sickness that often occurs during a submarine rescue attempt.

The judge’s determination, although permitting the filing of charges, does not mean that any university employees have committed criminal conduct or even that they will be charged. The issue is before the court as a result of a petition by the Alliance for Animals and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) subsequent to a decision by Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, who concluded that pursuing charges would be an unwise use of limited resources.

Sheep have been used in these experiments because they share physiological characteristics with people that are highly relevant to decompression-associated diseases.

The studies in question were stopped when the university received an interpretation that they might contravene a state law intended to bar decompression as a form of euthanasia. Findings from the study are already in use by the Navy and have been applied to mitigate decompression sickness in submariners and divers.

See too:

Silly Secrecy
Is Brian Blanchard a Racist or Just Under Bucky's Spell?
The Sheep. Spin, spin, spin.
Standing Above the Law
The decompression of the sheep
UW Violating State Law and PHS Regs?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

WISC TV news editorial

Neil Heinen, Editorial Director for WISC TV and Madison Magazine
May 31, 2010:

A week ago there was a resolution introduced before the Dane County Board that would create a citizens panel to study the ethics of UW research experimentation on monkeys. This week, the Madison City Council will consider a resolution opposing immigration policies that encourage discrimination. Both are the kinds of issues that have typically led to pretty heated debates over the role of local bodies of government with issues of national or global concern.

We've not always supported such use of City Council or County Board time. We'd also prefer that both of these issues be dealt with and resolved on a national level. But they haven't been. And they won't be. And they are both issues that to some degree - and not a small one at that - define us as a community, who we are and what we stand for. We think the citizens of this city and county should talk about whether or not local immigration policies are discriminatory, and if it is ethical to experiment on monkeys, especially because in neither case is there an obvious unbiased body that is capable or willing to lead. These are issues we should be talking about and if it takes a city council or county board resolution to prompt that debate we think that's appropriate.