Saturday, August 20, 2005

University of Wisconsin Records Show High Monkey Deaths

A study at the University of Wisconsin led to an unusual number of deaths and illnesses of rhesus monkeys in 2001 and 2002, internal school records show.

The UW memos were released Monday by the Primate Freedom Project, a group critical of animal research, which obtained them through an open records request.

The records show one monkey died while an attendant went to lunch during an experiment, and others were given drugs that had not been approved by a review committee at UW-Madison's National Primate Research Center.

University officials said the school took action against Ei Terasawa, a professor of pediatrics, after problems with her research surfaced. She was suspended from work on animals for two years, and the experiment in question, which was to study how monkeys' brains develop during menopause, was halted.

"It's one of the most severe actions that the committee has ever taken," said Eric Sandgren, chair of a university committee that oversees animal projects.

The school's primate research center is one of eight such federally funded centers.

The documents show an unusual number of monkeys died or were injured in 2001 and 2002 after being subjected to experiments in which needles were used to inject chemicals into their brains while they were confined in chairs. The precise number of monkeys that died was not disclosed in the records released Monday.

The most serious violation of protocol involved leaving the animals without supervision at least four times during the experiments, Sandgren said. The rules called for someone to be present at all times, and one of the animals died while the supervisor was at lunch, the documents show.

Another serious infraction involved injecting drugs into the animals that had not been approved, Sandgren said. Other violations included giving larger-than-approved doses of drugs, records show.

Story here.

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