Sunday, August 30, 2009

Michele Basso

Rumor has it that UW-Madison's investigation of Michele Basso has concluded and that she has lost her "privilege" to use animals, and that she is threatening to file a lawsuit against the university. So far, all of this is from uncorroborated leaks from within the university. If true, it's no wonder they're keeping it a secret. Apparently, according to my sources, even other vivisectors have found her practices to be slipshod and an embarrassment. They have been trying to get rid of her for a number of years. If this turns out to be true, I'll revisit the many times that she and her work has been publicly defended by the UW's lackeys.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The pattern is easy to see

Primate center officials had denied using zoo monkeys in invasive research until The Capital Times obtained specific monkey identification numbers that showed monkeys being born at the zoo and dying at the hands of researchers.

The identification numbers were provided by a Madison animal rights group. "Zoo Monkeys Secretly Killed: Uw Researchers Broke Commitment." Capital Times August 9, 1997.
Kemnitz,... interim director of the center ... maintained Sunday that the primate center has done nothing wrong. The monkeys taken from the zoo and used for invasive research are a tiny percentage of all the monkeys at the center and represent a legitimate exception to the non-use policy, he said. "Uw Scientists Deny Knowing Monkeys Had Lived At Zoo." Capital Times August 11, 1997.
A month after the UW-Madison admitted to a "serious breach" of an agreement with the Henry Vilas Zoo, new incidents are still coming to light and questions are being raised about the candor of UW officials regarding research on zoo monkeys.

In a written statement released Tuesday, Joe Kemnitz, interim director of the university's Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, admitted that at least one animal has been used in invasive studies since he took over the helm of the primate center in August 1996. The monkey had a fetus removed from her womb 20 days after conception so scientists could study it.

"This assignment and procedure were made by error and not as an intentional exception to the agreement," Kemnitz wrote. "I am chagrined that this oversight occurred."

Kemnitz wrote to newspapers last weekend to say that no improper assignments had been made under his leadership.

He wrote: "I deeply regret this breach of trust between the primate center and the zoo's administration, as well as the public. Importantly, none of our current staff intentionally violated the agreement. Furthermore, no exceptions to the agreement have been made during my tenure as interim director, which began one year ago."

The Capital Times has learned that two other monkeys in addition to the one that Kemnitz refers to were used in biomedical research projects within the past year in ways that may have violated the zoo agreement. "Uw Official Backtracks On Monkeys' Fate (all Editions) Pact With Zoo Violated More Recently." Capital Times September 18, 1997.

In 2007, three representatives from UW-Madison made a presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. UW-Madison was one of 14 semifinalists bidding to host the planned NBAF, intended to replace the aging and contaminated Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. NBAF will feature BSL-4 laboratories intended to study the most dangerous diseases known and yet to be discovered or designed.

Irwin Goldman, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was the primary university spokesperson at the March 8, presentation. Goldman told the Dane County Supervisors that he was knowledgeable of the risk associated with biological research because he was familiar with the use of pesticides and herbicides. In his opinion, based on his own expertise in horticulture, he found nothing to be concerned with in having a BSL-4 lab in town. March 8, 2007 UW-Madison presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens. "Infectious Diseases Study Site Questioned: Tornado Alley May Not Be Safe, GAO Says." The Washington Post July 27, 2009.
Biosafety Systems Strong, Uw Insists. "Biosafety Systems Strong, Uw Insists: Several Critics Worry University Researchers Could Inadvertently Expose The Public To Biohazards." Wisconsin State Journal Wednesday, January 30, 2008.
With more than 100 research projects in limbo, dozens of labs behind on safety inspections, and the investigation into a "Major Action" violation unfinished, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has vowed to hire more safety officers to review campus research.

Martin's response came after a campus committee sent her a letter last month stating that UW-Madison is not in compliance with National Institutes of Health guidelines because of "gross and chronic" understaffing.

"The risk is that the NIH would see that we're not carrying out our responsibilities, our end of the deal, and they could penalize the university," said Paul Lambert, who is head of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, which reviews research projects that involve biological materials. "They could deny us funding." "Martin Acts To Improve Safety: Understaffing Could Put Federal Funding At Risk." Wisconsin State Journal Friday, June 5, 2009.

And then there are the decades of illegal sheep decompression experiments and the very secret new BSL-3 lab that the university wants to build at the primate center.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool the public over and over and over, and you ought to go to jail.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The decompression of the sheep

The decompression of the sheep
Alliance for Animals says UW researchers are violating the law
Bill Lueders on Thursday 08/27/2009

The animals are placed in a hyperbaric pressure chamber, then monitored for decompression sickness.

In early 2006, Leslie Hamilton spoke to a UW Veterinary School class about animals and the law. Afterward, one student approached her to say he had, as a part-time lab assistant, witnessed decompression experiments involving sheep.

"He was very bothered by it," recalls Hamilton, an attorney and member of the local Alliance for Animals.

Hamilton made an open records request seeking necropsy reports on sheep who had died. The UW refused on various grounds, including "trade secrets." The state Attorney General's Office declined to get involved. Sighs Hamilton, "We had to let it drop."


... The experiments, which the UW last fall classified as being in the highest category for animal pain and discomfort, are often fatal.

And that, Hamilton believes, makes them illegal.

State Statute 951.025 reads, in its entirety: "Decompression prohibited: No person may kill an animal by means of decompression."

The Alliance has written the federal authorities that oversee animal experiments and Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, saying the UW has been killing sheep through decompression at least since 1988. And more than 100 group members have sent postcards urging Blanchard to "investigate this matter and bring charges against those responsible for conducting and approving these cruel acts."


Eric Sandgren, director of the UW's Research Animal Resources Center, offers this response:

"We're still reviewing the complaint and preparing our response to Mr. Blanchard, so it wouldn't be appropriate for us to provide detailed comments right now. We do believe that the research studies at issue were fully compliant with the letter and spirit of all applicable state and federal laws governing the use of animals in research. The studies were humanely conducted according to generally accepted veterinary practices, and serve the important public purpose of helping people working in deep-sea environments, such as submariners, to survive a rapid ascent."
I don't think Eric Sandgren should go into law as a career. The question here is a simple one and the illegality of killing animals by means of decompression in the state of Wisconsin isn't arguable, though I won't be surprised if the UW attorneys try to argue the matter.

I don't think Eric Sandgren is familiar with generally accepted veterinary practices either.

He must never have read Appendix 4 of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia (Formerly Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia) published in June 2007.

In Appendix 4, "Some unacceptable agents and methods of euthanasia," the American Veterinary Medical Association says:
Decompression is unacceptable for euthanasia because of numerous disadvantages. (1) Many chambers are designed to produce decompression at a rate 15 to 60 times faster than that recommended as optimum for animals, resulting in pain and distress attributable to expanding gases trapped in body cavities. (2) Immature animals are tolerant of hypoxia, and longer periods of decompression are required before respiration ceases. (3) Accidental recompression, with recovery of injured animals, can occur. (4) Bleeding, vomiting, convulsions, urination, and defecation, which are aesthetically unpleasant, may develop in unconscious animals.
Killing animals by means of decompression is illegal in Wisconsin and it's contrary to accepted veterinary practices.

This is doubly concerning because Sandgren is the director of the Research Animal Resource Center, which lists as one of its four main functions, to:
provide oversight and assistance in assuring compliance to all laws, regulations, and rules governing the care and use of laboratory animals.
So, the director, himself a veterinarian, is ignorant of the state's Crimes Against Animals statutes and is ignorant of the AVMA's guidelines on euthanasia. This lack of knowledge and delusional belief that the institution is obeying applicable laws goes to the heart of all the problems with the university's use of animals. They really don't know what they are doing, and are more than willing to say whatever they believe will pacify the public when a problem inadvertently slips into the public's field of view.

This problem can't be fixed. It's like trying to make the nuclear arsenal safe. The only sane and humane way to deal with it is to eliminate it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

UW-Madison: Bumbling Oafs or Big Fat Liars?

I'm sure that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has some fine teachers and bright researchers; the odds of having some outstanding minds are in the institution's favor given the large number of people who work there. But smart and ethical aren't the same thing. I'll talk more about that distinction a little later.

Maybe the animal-using component of the university attracts the oafs and the liars; maybe it's unfair to judge the overall quality of the institution and its staff by looking only at the animal users. Maybe, but that's the only part of the university with which I am familiar, and from that perspective, the university does indeed appear to be filled with oafs and liars.

At times it's hard to tell the difference between an oaf and a liar. For instance, when the university offered up property in the Town of Dunn as a construction site for the Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), did they simply not know that the Town of Dunn is nationally known as a leader in land use and open space preservation? Were they genuinely this uniformed, or did they think they could hornswaggle the townsfolk into dumping their three-decades-old land ethic for the possibility of new jobs? See what I mean? It's hard to tell whether the university "experts" were just dull or just liars.

I think they might be both, and that's a very dangerous mix when you stop to realize that they experiment with some of the most deadly and dangerous diseases known. NBAF is a case in point.

On March 8, 2007, three representatives from UW-Madison made a presentation to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. UW-Madison was one of 14 semifinalists bidding to host the planned NBAF, intended to replace the aging and contaminated Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. NBAF will feature BSL-4 laboratories intended to study the most dangerous diseases known and yet to be discovered or designed.

Irwin Goldman, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was the primary university spokesperson at the March 8, presentation. Goldman told the Dane County Supervisors that he was knowledgeable of the risk associated with biological research because he was familiar with the use of pesticides and herbicides. In his opinion, based on his own expertise in horticulture, he found nothing to be concerned with in having a BSL-4 lab in town. But on July 27, 2009, The Washington Post reported that:
The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens in a tornado-prone section of Kansas, according to a government report.

The department's analysis was not "scientifically defensible" in concluding that it could safely handle dangerous animal diseases in Kansas -- or any other location on the U.S. mainland, according to a Government Accountability Office draft report obtained by The Washington Post. The GAO said DHS greatly underestimated the chance of accidental release and major contamination from such research, which has been conducted only on a remote island off the United States.
Presumably, Ira Goldman and the rest of the university "experts'" claims that such a lab would be completely safe were based on the risk analysis conducted by DHS that the GAO now says was a "questionable methodology [that] could result in regrettable consequences." GAO says: "Given the significant limitations in DHS’s analyses that we found, the conclusion that FMD work can be done as safely on the mainland as on Plum Island is not supported." [My emphasis.]

This isn't reassuring. Either the university "experts" weren't expert enough to recognize that the risk assessments were based on out-dated incomplete scientific analyses or else didn't care enough about the public's safety to bother considering the DHS claims. This is particulary alarming given the fact that the university has been working to keep secret its plans for a new infectious disease lab right off Regent Street. Here's a letter published in the Aug. 22, 2009 Wisconsin State Journal regarding this stonewalling:
UW unresponsive on records request

Three years ago UW-Madison drew opposition from town of Dunn residents when it announced it was competing to build a lab for the study of diseases like anthrax and SARS. When the UW failed in its bid for the National Bio- and Agro Defense Facility, it admitted that community opposition was the biggest factor that sank the application.

UW-Madison recently announced it was in nationwide competition for federal stimulus funds to expand its infectious disease research facilities at its Charter Street lab, located just a block from the Vilas and Greenbush neighborhoods.

On June 3 I filed an open records request with UW to obtain information regarding the infectious disease research UW plans to conduct. I have yet to receive a response.

The Capital Times recently filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jim Doyle because he took more than 30 days to respond to their request for documents related to judicial appointments. The governor allegedly delayed his response to announce the appointments before he released the documents.

Following their failure three years ago, UW representatives said the process taught the university much about applying for federal projects. Was keeping the public in the dark one of the lessons?

The open records law requires a response "as soon as practical," and "harming the UW's chances for federal funds" is not listed among its exceptions.

-- Leslie Hamilton, Madison

If it weren't for a leak, we wouldn't know that the university has applied for a grant from the NIH to establish an BSL-3 infectious disease lab inside the primate center and that they propose to infect monkeys with SARS, avian flu, and tuberculosis. Given that the university's biosafety "experts" couldn't adequately evaluate the NBAF, or wouldn't, it makes sense to be worried about our health and safety now, to say nothing of the monkeys they will be watching die.
If their colossal circle-jerk regarding NBAF was their only screw up regarding possibly infecting everyone in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, or the world, maybe we could believe them when they (are sure to) say that we should trust their ability to keep us safe from their experiments. But it's not, not even close.

Right now, the university is under investigation by the NIH for a Major Action violation. Neither the university nor NIH will release details because the investigation is on-going. What we do know is that a researcher gentically modified disease-causing organisms to be resistant to the antibiotics used to control them (that's the definition of an NIH Major Action) and that s/he did this either without approval or without appropriate safeguards or both. We know this because Chancellor Martin announced it in the local paper. Apparently, the NIH began its investigation about two years ago and said that the entire biosafety program at the univerity was woefully lax. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that: "UW-Madison is not in compliance with National Institutes of Health [biosafety] guidelines because of 'gross and chronic' understaffing."

The university has a history of putting the public at grave risk and of not following basic federal regulations for working with deadly diseases. In 2007, MSNBC reported that:
University of Wisconsin-Madison research on the deadly Ebola virus was conducted for a year in a less-secure laboratory than required, until the National Institutes of Health alerted the school to the problem....

The university approved [Yoshihiro] Kawaoka's study initially for a Biosafety Level 3.... Several of UW-Madison's laboratories are Level 3 labs, but none are Level 4, where the most stringent guidelines to contain the most dangerous pathogens are applied.

Klein said Kawaoka was pressing to conduct the research in a less restrictive Level 2 lab. When the university asked the NIH for guidance, it learned the material was restricted to a Level 4 lab.
So, didn't the university know that federal regulations require Ebola research to be conducted in a BSL-4 lab or didn't they care, in essence lying to NIH and CDC? Were they oafs or liars?

Kawaoka has a history of putting the public's health at risk, and all of his experiments have been approved by the same "experts" who said NBAF was safe and that Ebola could be studied in a BSL-2 lab. Consider this:
Experts fear escape of 1918 flu from lab
October 2004
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
Debora MacKenzie

The 1918 flu virus spread across the world in three months and killed at least 40 million people. If it escaped from a lab today, the death toll could be far higher. “The potential implications of an infected lab worker – and spread beyond the lab – are terrifying,” says D. A. Henderson of the University of Pittsburgh, a leading biosecurity expert.

Yet despite the danger, researchers in the US are working with reconstructed versions of the virus at less than the maximum level of containment. ....

The latest work was done by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His team showed that adding the 1918 gene for the surface protein haemagglutinin to modern viruses made them far deadlier to mice. The researchers also found that people born after 1918 have little or no immunity.

The team started the work at the highest level of containment, BSL-4, at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Then they decided the viruses were safe enough to handle at the next level down, and did the rest of the work across the border in a BSL-3Ag lab in Madison. The main difference between BSL-4 and BSL-3Ag is that precautions to ensure staff do not get infected are less stringent: while BSL-4 involves wearing fully enclosed body suits, those working at BSL-3Ag labs typically have half-suits.

Kawaoka told New Scientist that the decision to move down to BSL-3Ag was taken only after experiments at BSL-4 showed that giving mice the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in advance prevented them getting sick. This means, he says, that if all lab workers take oseltamivir “they cannot become infected”. ...

Yet this assumes that the mouse results apply to humans. And the findings have not been published. In similar experiments, Terrence Tumpey’s team at the US Department of Agriculture’s poultry research lab in Athens, Georgia, got quite different results: they found that mice given oseltamivir still got sick and 1 in 10 died. It is not clear why Kawaoka’s mice fared better.

What is more, all the safety precautions are aimed at preventing escape, not dealing with it should it occur. If any of Kawaoka’s lab workers are exposed to the virus despite all the precautions, and become infected despite taking oseltamivir, the consequences could be disastrous.

“I experienced disbelief ... regarding the decision to relocate the reconstructed 1918 influenza strain from a BSL-4 facility to a BSL-3 facility, based on its susceptibility to antiviral medication,” Ronald Voorhees, chief medical officer at the New Mexico Department of Health, wrote on ProMED-mail, an infectious diseases mailing list....
Still not worried?
January 9, 2009 U. of Wis. quietly scraps risky lab equipment


MADISON, Wis. -- The University of Wisconsin-Madison has quietly decided to stop manufacturing its signature aerosol chambers used for researching infectious disease, which were involved in a few dangerous lab accidents nationwide, including one in Seattle in 2004.

The College of Engineering is shutting down the business after an internal audit found it was poorly managed and carried the potential for huge liability costs in the event the chambers failed, exposing researchers to toxic agents.
And this:
12 April 2007 - A [Madison] aerosol chamber mishap at Texas A&M University in February 2006 caused a researcher to be infected with the bioweapons agent brucella. Texas A&M University then violated federal law by not reporting the brucellosis case to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and now faces severe penalties. This information has only come to light as a result of persistent Texas Public Information Act requests by the Sunshine Project.
And this:
The Sunshine Project News Release 18 April 2005:

The Chamber: The Madison aerosol chamber is a specialized type of lab equipment. The chamber is used to infect animals with disease through their lungs. Cultures of organisms causing tuberculosis or the bioweapons agents anthrax, Q fever, or brucella and others are placed in a part of the device called a nebulizer, which mixes the agents with air. The resulting aerosol is directed into a metal chamber in which animals have been placed on racks. The animals then breathe in the agent. The integrity of the complicated device's "O rings", seals, and other fittings is critical to preventing the aerosols from escaping the chamber and causing accidental infections. But the Madison chamber in Seattle, Washington leaks badly, and in 2004 it caused three laboratory-acquired tuberculosis infections at a BSL-3 lab shared by Corixa Corporation and the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IRDI).

“Foolproof”: In late 2003, the Seattle lab began using a Madison aerosol chamber to infect guinea pigs with tuberculosis. Several batches were exposed over a period of months. By March 2004, a serious problem was detected when three employees, who previously tested negative for tuberculosis, came back with positive tests, or "conversions", indicating that they had been exposed to the agent.
The Madison aerosol chamber was designed by biosafety "experts" at UW-Madison, the same peole who are going to tell us that the public's safety will not be at risk from the lab they want to establish just a block off Regent Street. But listen to this.

In the leaked documents we received, university officials have claimed that they will secure their SARS, avian influenza and tuberculosis-infected monkeys in BioBubbles. BioBubbles are claimed by the manufacturer to be the "most cost effective" way to establish BSL-3 and BSF-4 environments, and they may be, but that doesn't make me feel very safe. Looking that the patent for BioBubbles [US Patent 7335243 - Modular biosafety containment apparatus and system], it seems to be a system designed primarily for emergency use:
[C]urrently available biological containment chambers are often expensive and difficult to retro fit into existing structures especially when one considers the short time periods available for attempting to control potential outbreaks of infectious agents. What are needed are more cost effective and readily adaptable biological containment chambers.... It is contemplated that modular construction provided in some embodiments, allows the user to more rapidly deploy the invention in preexisting spaces.
Keep in mind that Plum Island, the lab in New York that NBAF is intended to replace, essentially fell apart due to lack of adequate maintenance. Madison aerosol cabinets, the foolproof safety system designed by the university were taken off the market because they fall apart. The university has failed to follow federal rules and quidelines regarding Ebola research, genetic engineering of antibiotic resistance, biosafety oversight, and has allowed researchers to experiment with the most deadly diseases ever encountered. And, they have been confused about federal safety rules and the science behind safety analyses. And now they want to import SARS, avian influenza, and tuberculosis into downtown Madison.

Oafs or big fat liars, it's impossible to tell with certainty; what is much easier to say though is that we shouldn't trust either one.

Smart doesn't mean ethical

A fellow here in town named Rick Marolt teaches business at the university. He had the reasonable idea to ask who at the university is responsible for ethical decision-making. Who is it that looks at the influx of data on the mentality of monkeys and determines whether infecting them with terminal diseases, or experimenting on their brains, or what have you, is ethical. He asked the faculty senate, but they said it wasn't their job. He asked Chancellor Martin, and she said it was the animal care and use committee's job, but the animal care and use committee said that their job was to make sure that the experiments comply with the law (which in the case of the sheep decompression and past piglet starvation experiments, they failed to do). Apparently no one at the university wants the responsibility or will accept the responsibility of looking at the issue from a moral or ethical perspective.

The fact that not even the English, history, or math professors can muster the gumption to look critically at their colleagues' work doesn't speak highly of the principles guiding the institution; the culture there is an apparent studied overlooking of other's unethical behavior -- they probably call this academic freedom, but that's the same mindset that allowed Nazi scientists to experiment on Jews. Academia seems to be filled with people whose spines are missing.

I wonder if there are even five people at the university with a spine?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trust the scientists...

New York Times
Published: August 18, 2009
Senator Moves to Block Medical Ghostwriting

.... The documents offer a look at the inner workings of DesignWrite, a medical writing company hired by Wyeth to prepare an estimated 60 articles favorable to its hormone drugs. In one publication plan, for example, DesignWrite wrote that the goal of the Wyeth articles was to de-emphasize the risk of breast cancer associated with hormone drugs, promote the drugs as beneficial and blunt competing drugs. The articles were published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005 — continuing even though a big federal study was suspended in 2002 after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer and heart disease. ....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gene Sackett

The effect of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer in pigtailed macaque monkeys. Batterson VG, Rose SA, Yonas A, Grant KS, Sackett GP. Department of Comparative Medicine, Center on Human Development and Disability, Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, WA, USA. Dev Psychobiol. 2008:
The study described here is the first to experimentally demonstrate the effects of experience on the development of tactual-visual transfer. Infant pigtailed macaque monkeys (Macaca nemestrina) were reared from birth to 2 months of age in special cages that allowed the separation of tactual and visual experience. When assessed on a battery of measures at the end of the 2-month period, animals reared without the opportunity to integrate information across the two sensory modalities performed at chance levels on a paired-comparison measure of tactual-visual transfer and performed worse than controls in a visually guided reaching task. (My emphasis.)
No it's not (as if it would have been less meaningless if it had been.) Consider this:
Infant macaques were reared from birth in an apparatus which precluded sight of their body parts. At 35 days postpartum one hand was exposed to view. Visual fixation of this hand was insistent and prolonged; visually guided reaching was poor, but it improved during ten succeeding hours of exposure. Little concomitant improvement occurred in the reaching of the unexposed hand. Visually guided reaching in infant monkeys after restricted rearing. Held R, Bauer JA Jr. Science. 1967
Here's an image from Held and Bauer:

Sackett (and here) was one of Harlow's many students. He went on to become the director of the University of Washington's NIH National Primate Research Center's Infant Primate Research Laboratory. He's now a Professor Emeritus and still has access to young monkeys.

His 2008 paper is another piece of evidence putting the lie to the vivisectors' claims that only important non-redundant research is ever conducted. His 2008 paper is unimportant and redundant. The redundancy is particularly evident. Sackett was writing about the effects of various degrees of isolation rearing in the mid 1960s. If he didn't read the Held and Bauer 1967 Science article, then he wasn't well informed or staying up-to-date in his chosen area of deviance. If he did read it, but forgot about it, then he must not have done a legitimate literature search prior to embarking on the torment leading up to his 2008 paper. And if he did read it and remembered it or found it during a literature search, then he's just a liar.

And so too, must be his co-authors.

Today, Sackett is still up to no good. He has a project titled CHRONIC ATYPICAL NEUROLEPTIC TREATMENT IN NORMALLY DEVELOPING MACACA NEMESTRINA, which he describes like this:
Atypical neuroleptic drugs are being used frequently in children and adolescents with severe psychopathology. The effects of these agents on normal growth and development are unknown. This 5-year project treats normally developing non-human primates (M. nemestrina) with risperidone, quetiapine, or placebo from 13-20 months of age, followed by a 4 month post-drug period. 10 males received a low dose of risperidone or quetiapine for 4 months, then switched to a high dose for 4 months. 20 males will be assigned to the placebo condition. Animals are tested before, during, and after drug or placebo treatment for (1) social, emotional, exploratory, learning and memory, motor skill, and perceptual behavior; and (2) physical assessments of health, somatic growth, bone mineralization, and hormonal function. The study design permits both between-group and within-individual comparisons to examine drug group differences as well as dose effects. Because M. nemestrina monkeys demonstrate psychological and somatic development comparable to humans, this project will identify aspects of human development that are likely to be affected by chronic treatment with these agents.
In fact, children undergoing treatment with atypical neuroleptic drugs are the subject of much study. The potential lon-term and lasting effects of these drugs on children will be discovered by studying the children taking them, not pig-tailed macaques (M. nemestrina). The design of Sackett's research will provide no meaninful comparison between monkeys and humans.

Dogs and Two-Year-Olds

Dogs and 2-Year-Olds

on Same Mental Plane

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- According to accumulating research, the beloved family dog is really a toddler with a snout and tail.

"Dogs basically have the developmental abilities equivalent to a human 2-year-old," said dog expert Stanley Coren, who was scheduled to present recent canine research developments at the American Psychological Association annual meeting this week in Toronto.

The average dog can learn 165 words, although "super dog" Rico, a border collie, could understand 200 spoken words. Experts think some dogs can learn up to 250 words.


Marshall Farms, like Ridglan Farms, part of HARLAN SPRAGUE DAWLEY breeds dogs for vivisectors. In Madison, the largest consumer of dogs is Covance, which reported using 5,134 dogs in 2007. The University of Wisconsin - Madison reported using 421 dogs in 2004. I don't know how many they are using today.

If dogs were toasters, or even carrots, the things being done to them in these labs would have no ethical or moral implications, but, as Stanley Coren points out, they're not.

Here's a bad taste of the sort of things being done to them at UW-Madison:
Dogs were trained to stand quietly and/or run vigorously on a motorized treadmill, and after training, most dogs were instrumented through two surgical procedures. Similar to previous studies from our laboratory, dogs were instrumented with an ascending aortic (Transonic Systems, Inc., Ithaca, NY) and renal artery flow probe (Transonic Systems, Inc.) for beat-by-beat measurement of blood flow, and an abdominal aortic catheter for arterial blood sampling. Two of the dogs studied at rest and four dogs studied during exercise were instrumented with flow probes, whereas four of the dogs studied at rest and six of the dogs studied during exercise were instrumented with an abdominal aortic catheter... Animals were allowed to recover for at least 2 weeks before data collection.


Exercising dogs. As with the resting dogs, each animal was guided onto the treadmill and stood quietly while instrumentation was connected. After 5 minutes of quiet standing, resting data were acquired. The treadmill was then started, and the speed was increased to the highest speed that the dog could maintain with positive reinforcement (5–8 mph, 10–15% grade). After 2–3 minutes of steady state exercise, exercise data were obtained, and microspheres were then injected. Once arterial sampling was complete, the treadmill speed was lowered to 4 mph, promptly stopped, and the dog remained standing on the treadmill. Fifteen minutes after microsphere injection, additional data were acquired. As in the resting studies, dogs were promptly killed, tissue samples were taken, and careful post mortem examination
of the heart revealed no cardiac defects.

Exercise-induced arteriovenous intrapulmonary shunting in dogs. Stickland MK, Lovering AT, Eldridge MW. John Rankin Laboratory of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007.
Experimenting on dogs is like experimenting on young children; not infants who might not be able to grasp that someone means them harm, but two-and-a-half-year-old toddlers, who are able to add one and one and come to the conclusion that monsters are hurting them, even if they can't imagine why. And what else could people who would hurt dogs or young children be called but monsters?

Maybe they could feign ignorance: "I just didn't know that dogs have minds, think about things, and have feelings!" But once they learn that they do, and then continue to hurt and kill them, to breed them to be hurt and killed, what other word comes even close to describing them?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

UW Violating State Law and PHS Regs?

Wisconsin Statute 951.025, “Crimes Against Animals,” isn’t hard to understand. It says:

Decompression prohibited.
No person may kill an animal by means of decompression.

Decompression sickness, commonly called the bends, occurs when bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the blood, muscle, skin, the brain and other organs, or in bone. The pain can be excruciating and can lead to death.

Increased atmospheric pressure forces additional nitrogen into the blood. When someone is exposed to high pressure for a time, like a scuba diver or a sheep in UW-Madison's Hyperbaric Pressure Chamber, and then decompresses too quickly, the nitrogen forms bubbles as it turns back into a gas.

Since at least 1988,* vivisectors at the University of Wisconsin Madison have been killing sheep with decompression. In a 2008 report they explain:
Sixteen adult Suffolk ewes with no evidence of clinical lameness and with normal limb bone scans were subjected to a single 24-hour exposure of compressed air in a large, high pressure chamber at the UW Biotron Laboratory.
Each animal was observed for clinical signs of decompression sickness such as limb lifting, a manifestation of the discomfort in limb bends, labored breathing or panting, indicative of pulmonary gas embolism, otherwise known as the “chokes” or respiratory decompression sickness (RDCS). The sheep were observed continuously for 4 h[ours] immediately post-dropout decompression. The number of limb-lifting episodes in each limb was recorded.

Decompression caused six fatal cases of the chokes or respiratory decompression sickness (RDCS).

All four “control” sheep that breathed only air during [decompression] died of RDCS. One sheep in each of the 15-min and 1-h [oxygen] pre-breathing groups also died of RDCS.
The Alliance has sent a complaint ro the National Institutes of Health's Officice of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). We have also written to the Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and asked him to investigate and prosecute those involved in these cruel experiments to the full extent of the law.

If you haven't done so already, please send Mr. Blanchard a polite letter asking him to investigate this apparent violation of Wisconsin's Crimes Against Animals statute.

Please send letters to:

Brian Blanchard
Dane County District Attorney
Dane County Courthouse Room 3000
215 S. Hamilton
Madison, WI 53703-3297

Read our letter to the District Attorney and our complaint to the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

Get involved today.

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

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.

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

Michele Basso is Being Investigated

Michele Basso is being investigated for possible misconduct (likely related to her use of monkeys.)

We received an email a few weeks ago from someone at the University of Wisconsin – Madison asking whether Eric Sandgren--currently the Director of the UW Research Animal Resource Center(RARC)--had made a statement regarding Michele Basso. Included with the enquiry was a copy of a Tuesday, August 16, 2005 article from the Capital Times titled Uw Monkey Deaths Raise Questions: Researcher Suspended After 2001-2002 Experiments. The email pointed to a claim made by Sandgren. Here it is in context:
Last summer, three monkeys died after being left in a cage at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center while it was being sanitized.

Sandgren said that overall, two principal investigators, one lab technician, and two animal caretakers have been suspended from animal use at UW-Madison in the last two years.

“This is evidence of the process of oversight working,” Sandgren said of Terasawa's research. “We investigated, we determined a particular procedure was too risky and could no longer be performed at all.”

But Rick Bogle, a Madison representative of the Primate Freedom Project, said it's unclear why these problems are just coming to light now.

“It just looks like it's a mess,” Bogle said.

The university put out a press release after the cow deaths, but these problems were reported only to the federal government.

“It just did not come up in discussions,” Sandgren said of publicly announcing Terasawa's suspension at the time. “Now we've decided we will start announcing these things.”

Starting with the cow incident, the committee has begun making a public statement whenever a researcher is suspended from working with animals, Sandgren said. (my emphasis)
The email we received made it seem as if this promise hasn't been kept.

Following up on the email, we filed a public records request asking for:
… correspondence, notices and communications, electronic and otherwise, from July 20, 2008 to the present, between any of the University of Wisconsin Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees or the members of any of those committees, or the RARC or RARC staff, or the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and Michele Basso regarding any and all unexpected animal deaths, adverse results to an animal’s health, possible or actual deviations from her approved protocols, possible or actual violations of federal or state policies or regulations concerning the use of animals conducted or proposed by her or members of her lab.
We received a denial from the university citing Wis. Stat §19.36(10)(b) which allows a denial of records containing information relating to current investigation of possible misconduct connected with employment prior to disposition of the investigation.

Time will tell what’s up. In the mean time, it’s interesting to recall a germane part of Basso’s testimony at the May 23, 2006: House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on H.R.4239, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

Available via the World Wide Web.

It is critical to point out that biomedical research is subject to very strict regulations and oversight. We have an animal care and use committee for each school at Madison and an all campus committee that oversees all schools. My research meets or exceeds all standards set by the USDA, Public Health Service Policy as well as local guidelines for the care and use of non human primates in research. We abide by the well-known 3R principle concerning the use of animals. Whenever we can, we reduce the numbers of animals used, we replace the animal model with some other or we refine the technique we use to ensure maximal well-being of the animals. When we already meet the 3R requirements, we are required to justify why we cannot reduce or refine more. Working on animals is a privilege that neither I, nor my colleagues take lightly.
It's hard to tell what the investigation will turn up, but if it's related to her use of animals, and apparently it is, then it will cast her comment in a somewhat questionable light. Maybe someone will forward this on to her and she or someone from her lab will shed some light on the matter.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Behaving Preparation"

As of today, August 6, 2009, these are the projects using monkeys at UW-Madison receiving stimulus funds.

2009 NIMH $181,745

2009 NEI $7,425

2009 NEI $360,267

2009 NCRR $79,923

2009 NIDCD $140,521

2009 NICHD $11,189

In Visions of Caliban (Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall, Houghton Mifflin, 1993), Jane Goodall writes: "I have been allowed into the labs because those responsible have not truly understood the nature, the full horror, of the crime being committed. But times are changing." But Goodall was overly optimistic.

It seems that the vivisectors can be lumped into two stinking heaps. There are those who genuinely are blind to the issue, to the animals' suffering, and those who have come to recognize the crimes and who work to keep them secret and to spin the details and facts to keep the public confused and from storming the labs with torches and pitchforks. I think Luis C. Populin, who is one of those named above, must be a part of the first stinky heap. How else could someone refer to cats and monkeys as "preparations"?

Abstract Text:
Note: This project is being supported with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which may involve a reduction in the research aims and scope. If necessary, a revised abstract will be posted soon and this notice removed.

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of this project is to extend our knowledge of the neural mechanisms that underlie the integration of information from different sensory modalities and their transformation into motor commands to generate gaze shifts. Specifically, we will seek to establish the relationship between the magnitude and timing of sensory responses, associated motor discharges, and resulting gaze shifts. The proposed experiments, to be carried out in a newly developed head-unrestrained monkey preparation, are a natural continuation of those carried out in the behaving, head-restrained cat during the previous funding period. The change from the cat to the monkey preparation was dictated by the questions that arose from our previous work, which cannot be adequately addressed in the cat. The experimental approach will be to record from single units in the intermediate layers of the superior colliculus (SCi) of monkeys (1) during the presentation of acoustic, visual, and bimodal stimuli, and (2) while they orient to the sources of those stimuli. ...
Here's one of his big past discoveries:
Monkey Sound Localization: Head-Restrained versus Head-Unrestrained Orienting. The Journal of Neuroscience, September 20, 2006.:

Whereas the results support previous findings that monkeys localize sounds very poorly with their heads restrained, the data also reveal for the first time that monkeys localize sounds much more accurately and with less variability when their heads are allowed to move.
Materials and Methods
Subjects and surgery
Three young adult, male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) 5–8 kg in weight served as subjects. The animals were purchased from the Wisconsin Regional Primate Center (Madison, WI). All surgical and experimental procedures were approved by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Animal Care Committee and were in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Under aseptic conditions, eye coils and a head post were implanted in each monkey. The eye coils were constructed with stainless steel wire (SA632; Conner Wire, Chatsworth, CA), and were implanted according to the method developed by Judge et al. (1980). An additional coil of similar construction was embedded in the acrylic of the head cap, in the frontal aspect, to measure head movements. The head posts and the surgical screws used to attach the acrylic holding the implants to the skull were made of titanium. Because changes in the position of the external ears are known to affect the input to the eardrums (Young et al., 1996), much effort was invested in restoring the pinnae [outer ear] to their preimplant position.
And they call me a lunatic.

See too: Classic Evidence of Self-Awareness Not Sufficient to Deter UW-Madison Invasive Brain Experiments on Monkeys; Vivisectors Delighted by News September 30, 2010.


I was looking over some of the projects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that are receiving funding from the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub.L. 111-5). Some of them, like Ronald T Wakai's seem to be laudable projects. You can review all of them yourself with the NIH's new and currently pretty good on-line database called the Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT). The actual search tool can be accessed here.

RePORT isn't without some weaknesses though. For one thing, you can't link to a particular page, or at least I can't figure out a way to do so. With the old CRISP system, this was a straightforward matter. See for instance one of Wakai's old abstracts. Unfortunately, the CRISP is scheduled to be killed and will be replaced with RePORT.

I used to have to work back and forth between three NIH databases to put this information together; NIH has finally consolidated it here. So far, it seems like a valuable resource, but it would be better if the pages could be linked to and if the entire funding histories were included.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Laboratory Animal Veterinarians

So-called lab animal vets must rank at lowest level of any ethical scale of human behavior. Like MDs who worked to keep people alive so that they could be experimented on in a Nazi death camp, or kept them alive during the experiments, it's very hard to even invent a more disturbing ethical scenario.

The lead news story in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Association (JAVMA) is titled "Primate veterinarians promote animal welfare, biomedical research: One-health approach bridges gap between science and human medicine."

It's crap-filled propaganda. It's hard to say who the intended audience is, but whoever they might be, the author must think they are dullards and easy marks. No one with even a smattering of critical thinking ability could actually believe what is being passed off as factual, actual, or rational. If AVMA believes that this is the sort of crap that will coax young vets just beginning their careers into the dark secret world of vivisection, then it explains the quality of the vets we see there already.

Sick, sick, sick.
AVMA journals > JAVMA News > Animal welfare

August 15, 2009

Primate veterinarians promote animal welfare, biomedical research
One-health approach bridges gap between science and human medicine

When reports surfaced earlier this year that some primates at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana had been mistreated, some people may have seen it as confirmation of their worst suspicions about laboratory animal research.

The Humane Society of the United States, which secretly videotaped alleged abuses, accused New Iberia staff of hundreds of Animal Welfare Act violations. A U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation of the facility ultimately resulted in just six citations for failing to comply with AWA standards. Meanwhile, the HSUS called on Congress to pass legislation ending invasive research on chimpanzees and retiring the approximately 500 federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.

"just six citations"

Why didn't JAVMA include a link to the the USDA report? The HSUS complaint included hundreds of aledged violations; the fact that USDA cited New Iberia for six violations, serious violations, suggests three possibilities: HSUS was making up violations; New Iberia cleaned up their act before USDA showed up; USDA cited NIRC for the minimum number of violations possible, in effect, colluding with the lab. Given the fact that USDA hadn't noted any of the problems previously and did so only after videos documenting the abuse were made public tends to make me lean more strongly toward the last two possibilities.

The controversy over New Iberia illustrates a key challenge for those working in laboratory animal medicine, namely, a perception that scientists systematically abuse their nonhuman subjects. The primate research community was deeply troubled by how they were portrayed by the media, and they sought to counter the negative image by explaining that the New Iberia incident is a rare exception in a field that is quite simply working to discover new drugs, vaccines, and medical technologies to save lives, both human and animal.

JAVMA doesn't see the hypocracy in this statement. "The primate research community was deeply troubled by how they were portrayed by the media," but said essentially nothing about the violations of the AWA. The only rare event was the undercover documentation that forced USDA to act.

The public rarely considers the need for animals in biomedical research, says Dr. Christian R. Abee, director of the Michael E. Keeling Center in Bastrop, Texas, but when they do, they quickly understand why animals are a valuable resource. "We're really talking about the life and death of people," Dr. Abee said. "The new treatments being worked on can save millions of lives. Just as the discovery of penicillin saved untold numbers of lives, we're trying to discover the antibiotics for the future."
"the life and death of people" This is just fear mongering.
What the public may also not realize is, when a medical advance is first tested in animals, veterinarians are there, ensuring that the animals are humanely treated and that the therapy is shown to be safe enough to begin clinical trials in humans.
This is nonsense. FDA decides whether a drug or therapy can proceed to human trials.
Veterinarians have sworn an oath to protect animal health and relieve suffering in their patients. Yet they are equally committed to promoting public health and advancing medical knowledge about animals as well as humans. The tension between these dual obligations is nowhere more profound than in the field of laboratory animal medicine.
Obviously, it's a meaningless oath. Here it is:
Veterinarian's Oath

(Adopted by the AVMA In November, 1999, reaffirmed April, 2004)

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.
"the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering"

But veterinarians are in the forefront of making animals sick, huting them, and killing them. The attending vet at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in Madison, Saverio V. Capuano, for instance, has published a number of papers detailing the experimental infections of monkeys with SIV and tuberculosis. He, like thousands of vets involved in basic research, makes healthy animals sick, writes about their illness, and then kills them. And yet, AVMA believes that they are living up to their oath to protect animals and releive their suffering. Sick, sick, sick.
"We as veterinarians care about the animals," Dr. Abee explained, "so we want to make certain they're used properly and that we do everything we can to minimize any discomfort these animals have. But we also recognize that it's only through this research that we're going to make progress in treating diseases killing many millions of people every year."
Unadulterated crap. No one who makes animals deathly ill, especially not someone who does so for financial gain, can be genuinely said to care about animals, at least not in the way that most people mean. Abee cares about animals because their agony pays his mortgage. And what arrogance: "it's only through this research that we're going to make progress in treating diseases killing many millions of people every year." I suppose we ought to tell all the real doctors and real scientists studing human heath and biology in humans and human tissues and cells to close up shop, Abee is going to save the world.
Among the many animal species used in research, few are as highly valued physiologically as nonhuman primates. Because of their genetic, immunologic, reproductive, and neurologic similarities to humans, these animals are used as translational models involving a range of human illnesses, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and cardiovascular illnesses.
This is gibberish. Translational has become the buzz word of the day. These kooks believe the old chain of being model or scala naturae that posited a chain of being made up of links with God at the top most and descending step by step all the way down to the lowliest of creation. So, according to this prescientific world view, a monkey is just a step down from a man, a dog a step down from a monkey, then a cat, a rat, a mouse, etc. So, if a discovery is made in a mouse, then we can translate this discovery up the chain, modifying it intelligently as we go and, voila!, we come to a miracle drug for humans. Unfortunately, there is no such chain. Humans did not descend from monkeys. We have a common ancestor. The human line diverged from the monkey line many millions of years ago. We didn't descend from chimpanzees. We have a common ancestor. The idea that nonhuman primates are a good translational model is just stupid. Which of the 230 some-odd species are the good translational species? The virus that kills macaques, SIV, was taken from mangebys, which aren't bothered by it. Even something like Ketamine, the drug of choice in the primate labs to chemically restrain the animals requires differing doses for different primate species. Monkeys aren't even good translational models for other monkey species.
Advocates of primate research say medical breakthroughs such as the polio and hepatitis B vaccines would not have been possible or realized as soon as they were if these animals were not part of the investigations. "Primates are as close as you can get to the next step, which is clinical trials in humans," said Dr. Cheryl D. DiCarlo, assistant director of research resources at the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas.
This contradicts Abee. DeCarlo seems to acknowledge that the animals weren't really necessary after all. Her statement about speeding up breakthroughs is pure self-serving speculation.
Even with their many similarities to humans, a primate may not be ideal for a particular study, and it's up to the veterinarian supervising the study to decide, Dr. DiCarlo noted. "That's one of the things lab animal veterinarians do: they determine what species is the best model for a particular research project. Sometimes the mouse is the best model," she said.
DiCcarlo must have hit her head against something hard in the past; veterinarians don't decide which species to use in research, the Principal Investigator designs the research. Whether this person is a vet or not is entirely happenstance, but in any case, vets don't make these decisions. For one thing, how would they know whether a part of the brain in a rat or a monkey will react more similarly to a human brain when injected with an investigational drug? If it's an experiment, presumably no one knows.
Much of the research involving nonhuman primates is conducted at the eight National Primate Research Centers located throughout the country. Overseen by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources, those facilities house an estimated 28,000 animals representing more than 20 species, including Old World primates like the chimpanzee, baboon, and rhesus macaque—the lion's share of primates used in research—and New World primates, including squirrel and owl monkeys. In addition, the centers operate breeding colonies to maintain the supply of several primate species for research.

Given the considerable costs associated with caring for a chimpanzee throughout its lifetime—as much as $500,000 over the span of 50 years—the NCRR in 1995 suspended financial support for the breeding of new chimpanzees. The center does provide ongoing monies for chimpanzees bred prior to the moratorium, and that includes retirement into a federally funded sanctuary system, such as Chimp Haven in Shreveport, La.

Primates are highly complex and social animals so, in addition to a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians, each center employs a staff of behaviorists or trainers whose sole job is to provide environmental enrichment for the animals. It is understood in the research community that healthy and emotionally well-adjusted animals make the best test subjects.
This is blather. In fact, the cause of the wide-spread self-mutilation and psychotic behaviors of the monkeys in the labs is a subspecialty of some primate researchers. The problem is ubiquitous.
Humans aren't the only ones who benefit from new medical therapies. According to Dr. Franziska B. Grieder, director of the NCRR Comparative Medicine Division, many advances in human medicine are now used to enhance and prolong animal life.
Huh? Wait. So, we experiment on monkeys, find a cure for cancer, heal people, and then use the drug on dogs. Hello? Very, very few discoveries in monkeys have been successful in humans. Of those (in fact, I can't think of even one) there aren't many that have been put into clinical veterinary practice.

"We wouldn't have specific cancer treatments if they weren't first developed for human patients—or hip replacements or cardiac valves. We would never put those into dogs if they weren't developed for humans," Dr. Grieder said, and added that few biomedical companies would fund costly studies that benefited only animals.

Demand for primates fluctuates according to research needs at a given time. Research on HIV/AIDS, influenza, cancer treatments using monoclonal antibodies, and biodefense, for instance, are among some of the current hot topics. The NIH worries that new and emerging diseases will increase demand for research animals and there won't be enough veterinarians to look after the animals properly.
No. Very very few cancer studies use monkeys, most flu studies use mice and ferrets. Biodefense is a Orwellian term used a code for bioweaponizing disease agents. The diseases under study as bioweapons are fairly broad spectrum in action and can kill a variety of species. Monkeys are used only because they are available and sexy.
As with most career paths in veterinary medicine, with the exception of companion animal practice, a shortage exists of specially trained veterinarians who can meet the behavioral and physiologic needs of primates. The Association of Primate Veterinarians has 374 members, 33 of whom reside outside the United States, according to APV president, Dr. Thomas E. Nolan. Those numbers, Dr. Nolan said, encompass most if not all veterinarians working with primates.
The silver lining here is that many vets are deciding to spend their careers trying to alleviate illness and suffering in companion animals as opposed to keeping animals in labs alive to be killed, or keeping cows and pigs healthy enough to have babies and be killed, or to keep jailed animals in zoos alive long enough to be gawked at.
"Primate medicine is a small [twisted, sick] fraternity, and (the fact) that jobs are going unfilled is pretty common knowledge," explained Dr. Bruce J. Bernacky, section chief of the rhesus monkey breeding colony and co-manager of the chimp colony at the Michael E. Keeling Center. "NIH can also see that more veterinarians are retiring than young people are coming into field."

To offset the shortage, the NCRR in 2007 began offering the R25 training grant at each of the primate centers to train veterinarians for careers in primate clinical medicine. Dr. Greg K. Wilkerson started his two-year residency at the Keeling Center in February. A 2001 graduate of the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Wilkerson completed residencies in anatomic pathology and comparative medicine prior to striking out in this new direction.

"Primate medicine wasn't something I initially considered, just because I didn't have a lot of exposure to primates," Dr. Wilkerson said. "But once I did, I found it very fascinating. No two days are the same, and there are many opportunities for me."

The veterinarians interviewed for this article believe that, as champions of animal welfare, veterinarians are an essential component of biomedical research that uses animals. "We're sometimes perceived as torturing animals, but it's just the opposite. The veterinary staff is the animal advocate here," explained Dr. Kathleen M. Brasky, a clinical and research veterinarian at the Southwest National Primate Research Center.
These "advocates" torture the animals they claim to champion. Sick, sick, sick.
"The animals are our top interest. (They're) not data from a project, whereas for an investigator, (the data) would be their primary interest. We're the animal advocate," Dr. Brasky explained.
I think I'm going to be sick.
The Animal Welfare Act requires veterinarians to provide pain relief to animals for any procedure that might be perceived to cause pain in a person.
Unless the pain meds might interfere with the results. The animals never come first.
"I think lab animal veterinarians are much more attuned to pain and alleviating pain than human physicians," she said. "We err on the side of caution."
I'd rather be in a hospital where they were trying to cure me and alleviate my pain than be a monkey in a lab where they are making me sick and debating whether the pain meds might mess with the results of the experiment. Brasky is an idiot or a swindler trying to coax rather dumb vets into her fieild so she doesn't feel so very alone and stigmatized.
For more information about research primates and laboratory animal medicine, visit the Web sites of the Association of Primate Veterinarians (, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (, and National Center for Research Resources ( Additionally, the AVMA has several policies on animal research and appropriate care for the animals, including "AVMA Animal Welfare Principles," "Use of Animals in Research, Testing, and Education," and "Responsible Use of Animals for Human Purposes." These and other position statements are available on the AVMA Web site ( in the Reference section under "Policy."

–R. Scott Nolen