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.

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