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NIH Wastes Your Money

Watchdog group skeptical as OHSU cries “breakthrough” with Spindle Transfer Research announcement

Portland, OR Today, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has announced the birth of twin monkeys named Mito and Tracker, the subjects of Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov’s spindle transfer experiment. Based on the limited information available on Mitalipov’s recent Nature article, In Defense of Animals (IDA) is unable to comment immediately on the details of this particular research. However, based on OHSU’s history, this announcement is likely to be just the latest in a long line of non-human primate results heralded as “breakthroughs” by OHSU, only to be forgotten when they fail to produce the cures and treatments they promise.

“Again, OHSU is the boy who cried ‘breakthrough,’ as it continues to squander millions of taxpayer dollars on animal experiments that do not produce results for people,” according to IDA’s Matt Rossell, who worked for two years as an OHSU primate technician. “Public money is better spent on health care, prevention programs and innovative human-based technologies that are superior to animal experiments.”

In the scientific community, the word “breakthrough” has special meaning. OHSU has rendered it practically meaningless by using it time and again to describe its non-human primate experiments – including in its latest press release. True medical breakthroughs are all-too-rare – the stuff of Nobel, Lasker and other prestigious awards. However, according to OHSU’s Web site, OHSU researchers average one new breakthrough, innovation or therapy either once every three days, or once every four days.

OHSU’s latest press release comes at a time when the Oregon National Primate Research Center is asking for a $14.8 million construction grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand its facilities. This grant is in addition to the $12.7 million it received in 2008 as part of its NIH base grant to support the Primate Center – the 49th year of such taxpayer support. OHSU received a total of $169.9 million from the NIH in 2008.

While OHSU is swimming in taxpayer-funded NIH money, non-animal methods of research remain underfunded, yet have advanced science immeasurably. Just last week, IDA submitted a 26-page, 153-citation report to NIH peer review councils that examines the costs and benefits of animal experiments. In this report, which is available upon request, IDA summarizes critiques of animal research from the peer-reviewed literature and highlights a few cutting-edge scientific techniques that are in danger of being lost. As OHSU continues to demonstrate, outdated “animal models” are being perpetuated at the expense of 21st-century science and true research breakthroughs.

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi..
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