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On Campus: Protest against monkey research planned in advance of UW-Madison forum

On Campus: Protest against monkey research planned in advance of UW-Madison forum

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Opposition to a new UW-Madison research project involving infant monkeys has not been hard to find lately, and the movement to stop the research will get its most public display Thursday with a protest march prior to a university-sponsored public forum on the research.   

The protest will start at 5:45 p.m. at 750 University Ave. Protesters will march from Chazen Art Museum to the Biotechnology Center, 425 Henry Mall. The university's public forum on the research will start at 7 p.m. at the Biotechnology Center in Room 1111.

The controversial study seeks insight into the neurobiology of anxiety and depression, which researcher Dr. Ned Kalin said could eventually assist people, according to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism story published in the State Journal in August. From the story:

"Kalin, the UW-Madison psychiatry department chairman, proposed the research, which has generated intense debate within the university about the extent to which benefits to humans justify the suffering of animals.

The university's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee in April approved the research protocol. The experiment supersedes an almost identical protocol approved two years ago but never begun — for logistical reasons and because of internal opposition.

The experiments build on the controversial studies of UW-Madison primate researcher Harry Harlow, which peaked between 1965 and 1972, and Kalin's own past work.

For a year, 20 rhesus monkeys separated from their mothers and another 20 in a control group will be given tests intended to provoke and measure anxious behavior. After one year, they will all be euthanized and their brain tissues collected for molecular analysis."

UW System president Ray Cross got two questions about the topic in a brief recent appearance on C-Span. He defended the research, saying it had cleared a rigorous university approval process required of all animal research projects.

Well-coordinated opposition to the research has continued to grow online, with involvement from alums locally and nationally in addition to animal-rights advocates. A change.org petition has gathered more than 327,000 signatures. It was started by Ruth Becker, a UW-Madison alum and medical doctor who also has advanced degrees in law and business management.

At the forum on Thursday night, Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn and Eric Sandgren, animal research oversight director at UW-Madison, will discuss animal research ethics focusing on the monkey research.

The event is free and open to the public. Russ Shafer-Landau, chair of the UW-Madison philosophy department, will moderate. Following the discussion, the speakers will field questions from the audience.

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