Protesters rally against the UW’s research practices on infant monkeys

Protesters against treatment of infant monkeys

Protesters against treatment of infant monkeys -

Protesters march along NE Pacific Street to deliver a petition to President Michael Young’s office. The petition had 50,000 signatures collected internationally to protest the Infant Primate Research Lab run by the Center on Human Development and Disability. 

Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky

Pamela Pulver and Carol Guilbault

Pamela Pulver and Carol Guilbault

As part of World Week for Animals in Laboratories, a group of protesters gathered outside of the UW Medical Center on Friday to spread a message that infant monkeys at the UW Infant Primate Research Laboratory (IPRL) are enduring what they say are cruel and painful experiments.

The protesters alleged that the research being done on infant monkeys at the UW is abusive and scientifically unjustified. They delivered a petition with about 50,000 signatures from around the world to President Michael K. Young’s administration, demanding that the IPRL be shut down immediately.

The petition also targets Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to demand that the NIH stops using taxpayer dollars to fund the research. In 2013, the NIH awarded an $87 million in grants to eight U.S. primate research centers. The petition was organized by former UW student Britt Lind through an online petition database called Care2.

“It’s our tax dollars that go to the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institutes of Health is what funds the research here, so we’re actually paying for this torture,” said Pamela Pulver, an organizer of the protest. “Our message is stop funding the NIH because they’re funding UW torture of monkeys.”

Pulver said the same signed petition was being delivered to the NIH in Washington, D.C., that day.

“We have 50,000 signatures from all over the country that are protesting the breeding, the use, and the sale of these primates. All of these people object to what the University of Washington is doing to baby macaques,” Pulver said. “We’re delivering the signatures to President Young so that he knows we know what’s going on.”

Pulver said she feels people need to know about this research so that they can make informed decisions on whether or not they support it.

“We want people to see our signs and get information on what the UW is doing to baby monkeys … nobody even knows they exist,” Pulver said. “The baby monkeys are being bred, they’re being tortured, they’re suffering needlessly. There’s no contribution to science.”

Carol Guilbault, another protest organizer, said she was shocked to learn of this research being conducted in Seattle.

“I’ve been here for about ten years, and I had no idea what was going on behind this hospital, so when I heard about that I knew immediately I had to get involved,” Guilbault said. “If you’re going to be doing this, you need to be transparent about it. I think if people knew what was going on behind the scenes there’d be some more people out here protesting.”

Pulver explained that there are more effective alternatives to this type of research and referred to the UW Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies.

“If they just made use of that institute which is specific to human babies instead of nonhuman primate babies, they could stop their use of animal experimentation tomorrow,” she said.

Guilbault said that she too feels that the UW should concentrate on implementing the simulators in replacement of monkeys.

“I’m hoping they stop doing it and start using simulators. In over 65 years they have not had one cure proven to be from any of this research that’s being done,” Guilbault said. “What I want people to know is that this is scientific fraud, that it’s not curing any disease.”

President Michael Young’s office could not be reached for comment in response to the protest.

In an interview with The Daily in March, Dr. David Anderson, executive director of the Health Sciences Administration, said animal use in research is one of the most heavily regulated activities. The UW answers to its own regulatory body, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, in addition to the United States Department of Agriculture and the NIH through its Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. All institutions using animals in research have the authority to enforce regulations through various types of measures.

“What typically happens is if we identify something, we report it, we investigate it,” Anderson said. “If we, in fact, find out that something has happened that’s outside the approvals of that project, then we notify the appropriate regulatory body and offer them the opportunity to come in and do their own investigation.”

Staff members handling the animals also need to go through a training process, Anderson said. Training for those handling nonhuman primates is organized by the Washington National Primate Research Center.

A 2011 article in The Seattle Times mentioned that since 2008, the UW has invested millions in upgrades to its animal care facilities and has become accredited with the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. The UW had been cited and placed on probation in 2006 for inadequate animal care facilities and again in 2008 for unauthorized surgeries performed on primates.

“This is just the beginning of protest for the infants,” Pulver said.


Reach reporter Sasha Glenn at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @sashajomaro

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