SfN Submits Letter to the Editor to Science
Society for Neuroscience President Steven Hyman and Committee on Animals in Research Chair Michael Goldberg submitted the following letter to Science in response to the article “Researcher drops primate work." The letter was published in Science on June 12, 2015.
It is deeply troubling that an animal rights extremist campaign will stop an important line of research, and the entire scientific community should be concerned when, yet again, disruptive actions by extremists silence important, well-regulated science (“Researcher drops primate work,”Science, May 8, 2015). It is unacceptable that researchers worldwide are subject to harassment, threats of violence, illegal taping, and property damage, and we urge aggressive enforcement of laws that protect responsible research, scientific institutions, and scientists.
The Society for Neuroscience has long urged research institutions to be proactive in identifying and supporting researchers who experience animal rights threats. Non-human primate models, the research subject in this case, are critical for advancing scientific understanding of the brain, and to improve the health and well-being of humans and non-human species. Research on animals, including non-human primates, provides the basis for breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, and devastating infectious diseases like HIV, Ebola, and influenza. Monkey research played a key role in the development of deep-brain stimulation for treating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Biomedical research operates within the laws and guidelines set by multiple oversight bodies to ensure humane treatment of animals.
For neuroscience, this troubling news will only lengthen the time needed to better understand complex neural systems, which are crucial to find treatments more than 1,000 disorders--including addiction, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease--which afflict more than 1 billion people worldwide. We urge the scientific community to make a strong stand about the irreplaceable role of animals in research, and for organizations to sign on to the international statement supporting animal research, found at the International Brain Research Organization.
Steven E. Hyman, MD
President, Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
Michael E. Goldberg, MD
Chair, SfN Committee on Animals in Research