Monday, September 8, 2014

Robert Golden: "... the opinion of the top leaders..."



I am writing here mostly about one claim that was made in various forms by Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Medicine and Public Health in his comments to the Dane County Executive Committee (which you can watch in its entirety in the video above) regarding Supervisor Al Matano's Resolution calling for the condemnation of the university's renewed use of maternal deprivation to create monkey-models of early adversity-induced depression.

His talk is pretty much a load of crap throughout that seems intended only to soothe and delude his listeners, or else he really is as dull as he appears, but that seems unlikely. See some previous observations of mine regarding some of his previous ridiculous claims here and here. Or, maybe he believes everything he said during the committee's meeting and has simply lost touch with reality.

Dr. Golden said: [Beginning at about 58:22] "More important than my opinion quite frankly though is the opinion of the top leaders, his competitors in the field [which field is that?], who get together and decide that his work is so promising, that they will take money from the limited pot that's available to fund their resource [research] and recommend that it be given to his. His grants have received the very top ratings in the outstanding category from neuroscientists who are competing with him to get their work funded."

"His papers are reviewed by his competitors who feel that they are worthy of publication, because of the progress already being made in the very top journals in the world."

Wow! Kalin's work must be really something!

[Kalin's experiments on monkeys have not led to one single improvement in the care and treatment of people suffering with a mental illness. Golden should point to the improvement(s?) if I'm wrong. He won't. He can't. There is nothing to point to. Golden's talk of "progress" is hyperbole and has no foundation in fact, none whatsoever. Maybe Golden is hoping for a Chancellor's position somewhere and he feels a need to demonstrate his facts-be-damned allegiance to his current institution. Institutions like the UW carefully vet the people they hire as spokespersons, and no quibbling over cruelty and suffering is wanted. But all this isn't what I am writing about here.]

Ned Kalin's longest running grant is DEVELOPMENT AND REGULATION OF EMOTION IN PRIMATES. [Grant: 5 R01MH046729 20.] It's been continuously funded for 20 years. In 2014 it was allotted another $629,176. [Direct Costs: $425,588. Indirect Costs: $203,588. Indirect costs are the part of the grant that the scientist's institution is able to deposit into its general fund. Legal skimming.]

Most NIH-funded research projects, like the this one, are approved by committees sponsored and organized by the Center for Scientific Review, a part of the NIH. The CSR creates peer review groups or study sections charged with evaluating grant applications and deciding which should be funded. Kalin's project was approved by the PMDA study section.

Robert Golden says that Ned Kalin's research must be important because the people who approved it are the "top leaders," the cream-of-the-crop of the scientists around the country.

But the system doesn't work. It is inbred and circular. The members of the committees that evaluate experiments using animals are by and large made up of scientists who also use animals in stupid, cruel, dead-end experiments like Kalin's. These committees aren't made up of the "top leaders" working on human health and basic human biology, they are made up of vivisectors doing work that has little merit. Of course they endorse research methods like their own; and as long as the system is as it is, self-interest will continue to maintain the status quo.

Let's look at the members of the PMDA study section, the committee that has decided to keep giving Dr. Kalin lavish handouts of the public's tax dollars. Dr. Golden's characterization of these scientists and their work is dead wrong. Only two of these fourteen scientists are studying human biology, the work of the twelve vivisectors has next to no chance of leading to better patient care or the prevention of disease. Dr. Golden's estimation of what is and isn't good science seems to be colored by the money flowing into his institution and sustaining ridiculous and terribly cruel experiments on animals.

Here's the roster of the "top leaders" in Kalin's "field." Golden must mean dead-end and horribly cruel when he claims Kalin's work is part of a particular field of study.

PATHOPHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MENTAL DISORDERS AND ADDICTIONS STUDY SECTION
Center For Scientific Review

(Terms end 6/30 of the designated year)

ROSTER

CHAIRPERSON
-----------------------
HURD, YASMIN L , PHD, (15)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENTS OF PSYCHIATRY, PHARMACOLOGY AND
SYSTEMS THERAPEUTICS
MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
NEW YORK, NY 10029

One of Dr. Hurd's currently funded projects is titled NEURODEVELOPMENTAL EFFECTS OF CANNABIS AND ITS EPIGENETIC REGULATION. [Project Number: 5R01DA030359-04. $409,073. Direct Costs: $241,916. Indirect Costs: $167,157.]

She writes: "Importantly, PENK and D2 gene expression impairments persisted into adulthood following either prenatal or adolescent THC exposure and the animals [rats] exhibited increased heroin self-administration and inhibitory control deficit, phenotypes predictive of drug addiction vulnerability.... In this project, we propose to study chromatin modification at specific regulatory regions of the PENK and D2 genes in the ventral striatum of adult rats with developmental THC exposure."

Dr. Robert Golden says this is the best of the best publicly funded research going on right now. Wow.

MEMBERS
----------------
ANGULO, JESUS A , PHD, (19)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
HUNTER COLLEGE
CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
NEW YORK, NY 10065

This is from Dr. Angulo's lab's webpage "... We study the mechanism by which neuropeptides restore homeostasis in the neostriatum after exposure to psychostimulants at behavioral, neurochemical, and molecular levels. In addition, histological methods are used to study the damaging effects of the pscyhostimulant methamphetamine and to demonstrate that some neuropeptides protect neurons from the damaging impact of this commonly abused drug. We utilize both Sprague-Dawley rats and mice as model systems....".

Top notch.

BERRETTA, SABINA, MD, (18)
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
MCLEAN HOSPITAL
BELMONT, MA 02478

As she describes it here, Dr. Berretta's description of her work seems to be the real McCoy. This looks like the sort of research that may be getting bumped by projects like Kalin's.

DWIVEDI, YOGESH , PHD, (18)
PROFESSOR AND CHAIR
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY AND
BEHAVIORAL NEUROBIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM
BIRMINGHAM, AL 35294

Dr. Dwivedi is also studying humans.

GALL, CHRISTINE M , PHD, (16)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF ANATOMY AND NEUROBIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT IRVINE
IRVINE, CA 92697

One of Dr. Gall's currently funded projects is BDNF AND THE RESTORATION OF SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY IN FRAGILE X AND AUTISM. [Total Funding: $453,289. Direct Costs: $377,278. Indirect Costs: $76,011.]

Dr. Gall writes: "... Finally, Aim 5 will test if TBS-induced LTP, and steps in actin signaling that are perturbed in the Fmr1-KO mice, are disturbed in other animal models of autistic phenotype and corrected by BDNF: this work will evaluate effects in the BTBR T[+] tf/J mice and Tuberous Sclerosis complex model mice. Together these studies will identify mechanisms underlying deficits in LTP stabilization in FXS model mice, determine if the same processes are disturbed in other mouse strains with features of autism, and test if increasing endogenous BDNF is an effective therapeutic strategy for correcting impairments in the cellular mechanisms of learning and memory in models of cognitive conditions associated with autism."

I wonder whether she has heard the idea that limiting the number variables is a good idea in the conduct of most experimental science? Top notch.

JENTSCH, J DAVID , PHD, (17)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENTS OF PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHIATRY
AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES, CA 90095

Dr. Jentsch is a central element in this video. He's the odd, very loud fellow who appears to be pregnant. I've written a bit about his cruelties in the past. Just stick his last name in the little search window above. I suspect that Dr. Golden got this right. Jentsch (rhymes with Grinch) is definitely one of the leaders od this so-called field. Yes sir, cream-of-the-crop, top notch all the way.

JUNE, HARRY L , PHD, (18)
PROFESSOR
DEPARMENTS OF PSYCHIATRY AND BEHAVOIRAL SCIENCES
DIRECTOR
SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESEARCH
HOWARD UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
WASHINGTON, DC 20060

Dr. June's most recent grant, funded last in 2013, is titled: EFFICACY OF NOVEL TRIPLE UPTAKE INHIBITORS IN TREATING ALCOHOLISM AND DEPRESSION. [Total Funding: $311,069. Direct Costs: $210,182. Indirect Costs: $100,887.]

Dr. June writes: "The first aim will test the hypothesis that orally-administered TUIs can effectively attenuate excessive alcohol drinking in the binge and prolonged repeated alcohol deprivation [PRAD] models using the alcohol-preferring [P] rat. Initial studies will employ DOV 102,677 [our lead compound], recently shown to reduce limited alcohol responding for six days after a single administration. It is hypothesized that acute treatment for binge drinking, and chronic treatment for PRAD drinking, will selectively reduce intake in both models." (Brackets in original.)

Binge drinking in rats... I'm sure he's on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

LEE, FRANCIS SANG YONG, MD, PHD, (19)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY AND PHARMACOLOGY
WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE
NEW YORK, NY 10021

Dr. Lee writes a recent paper: "Relatively little is known about neurobiological changes attributable to early-life stressors (e.g., orphanage rearing), even though they have been associated with a heightened risk for later psychopathology. Human neuroimaging and animal studies provide complementary insights into the neural basis of problem behaviors following stress, but too often are limited by dissimilar experimental designs. The current mouse study manipulates the type and timing of a stressor to parallel the early-life stress experience of orphanage rearing, controlling for genetic and environmental confounds inherent in human studies. The results provide evidence of both early and persistent alterations in amygdala circuitry and function following early-life stress."

Top notch. His and Kalin's work are not so different.

LEWIS, DAVID A , MD, (17)
UMPC ENDOWED PROFESSOR IN TRANSLATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE
CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
PITTSBURGH, PA 15213
One of Dr. Lewis's currently funded projects is titled: CANNABIS AND ADOLESCENT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT [Total Funding: $550,394. Direct Costs: $365,178. Indirect Costs: $185,216.]

Dr. Lewis writes in his grant abstract: "To test this hypothesis we will determine the postnatal developmental changes in the expression of CB1R mRNA and protein (Aim 1), the innervation patterns of CB1R-IR axons (Aim 2), and the electrophysiological consequences of CB1R activation (Aim 3) in the macaque monkey DLFPC, a model system that uniquely recapitulates the circuitry and protracted development of the human DLPFC. We will also assess the impact of chronic cannabis exposure during adolescence on working memory performance in monkeys (Aim 4) and on the maturation of perisomatic inputs to DLPFC pyramidal neurons (Aim 5). Thus, these studies will provide an explicit test of the biological events and mechanisms that make the adolescent brain especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis."

Monkeys and marijuana. Top notch no doubt. What real medical research was dumped in lieu of this cruel silliness?

MIDDLETON, FRANK A , PHD, (18)
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF NEUROSCIENCE AND PHYSIOLOGY
SUNY UPSTATE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY
SYRACUSE, NY 13210

One of Dr. Middleton's projects is in its 29th year of continuous funding. It is titled: FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME. [Grant: 5R01AA006916-29. Total Funding: $353,190. Direct Costs: $221,436. Indirect Costs: $131,754.]

Dr. Middleton writes: "Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is common (affects ~2% of all live births) and is a major cause of mental dysfunction.... Three complementary aims will be addressed using p53 deficient mice and cells. ... Vulnerability of cortical neurons to ethanol will be addressed in long- and short-term in vivo studies. Long-term studies will determine the ethanol-induced loss of neurons in cortical layers occurring in the deficient mice."

Top notch all the way.

MIRNICS, KAROLY , MD, PHD, (15)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
UNIVERSITY OF VANDERBILT
NASHVILLE, TN 37232

In a fairly recent paper [Physical activity-associated gene expression signature in nonhuman primate motor cortex. Mitchell AC, Leak RK, Garbett K, Zigmond MJ, Cameron JL, Mirnics K. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012.] Dr. Mirnics et al write: "The Animal Care and Use Committee of the Oregon National Primate Research Center reviewed and approved all experiments. Fourteen adult female ovariectomized Rhesus monkeys (M. mulatta) with various levels of spontaneous activity were used in this study with care methods previously published (1,2,24). Their activity levels were measured in counts/ day with an accelerometer throughout the study and ranged from 46,378 to 897,948 activity counts per day. These monkeys also participated in a previous weight loss study (1). Monkeys were deeply anesthetized with ketamine/pentobarbital, quickly decapitated, and the entire brain was removed from the skull....".

PENZES, PETER , PHD, (17)
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSIOLOGY
FEINBERG SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
CHICAGO, IL 60611

In one paper reporting on work supported by Dr. Penzes's grant: ROLE OF KALIRIN SIGNALING IN SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY. [5R01MH071316-10. Total Funding: $375,369. Direct Costs: $247,500. Indirect Costs: $127,869.] Dr. Pezes et all write: "Because we have previously shown that complete absence of the KALRN gene leads to significant cortical deficits and behavioral impairments in young mice, we reasoned that analysis of spine densities in different brain regions in both heterozygote and knockout adult mice and their correlation with cognitive phenotypes, might reveal important relationships between spine plasticity and behavior."

PLETNIKOV, MIKHAIL V , MD, PHD, (17)
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF NEUROBIOLOGY AND NEUROIMMUNOLOGY
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
BALTIMORE, MD 21287

One of Dr. Plentnikov's currently funded projects is DISC-1 IN NEURON-ASTROCYTE INTERACTIONS IN NEURODEVELOPMENT. [5R01MH083728-05. Total Funding: $405,000. Direct Costs: $250,000. Indirect Costs: $155,000.]

Dr. Plentnikov is just another mouse vivisector.

PORRINO, LINDA J., PHD, (16)
PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSIOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
WINSTON-SALEM, NC 27157

"... The purpose of this study, therefore, was to assess the functional effects of re-exposure to cocaine in nonhuman primates after the discontinuation of cocaine self-administration for 30 or 90 days, .... Rhesus monkeys self-administered cocaine (fixed interval 3-min schedule, 30 infusions per session, 0.3 mg/kg/infusion) for 100 sessions followed by 30 (n=4) or 90 days (n=3) during which experimental sessions were not conducted. Food-reinforced control animals (n=5) underwent identical schedules of reinforcement. Animals were then re-exposed to cocaine or food for one final session ... Compared to controls, re-exposure to cocaine after 30 or 90 day drug-free periods resulted in lower rates of glucose utilization in ventral and dorsal striatum, prefrontal and temporal cortex, limbic system, thalamus, and midbrain." Functional consequences of cocaine re-exposure after discontinuation of cocaine availability. Beveridge TJ, Smith HR, Nader SH, Nader MA, Porrino LJ. Neuropharmacology. 2014.

These are the leaders? Just imagine what the average scientists in this field are up to. Dr. Golden needs his head and ethics examined.

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