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animal rights | education | health

OHSU animal research shows that exercise is good for you!

A forum on animal rights, organized by students, took place Monday night at Lake Oswego High School. Most of the discussion centered on the issues of animal research, specifically the research conducted at OHSU's primate center (the Oregon National Primate Research Center).
The first speakers were two representatives of OHSU, public relations rep. Jim Newman and primate researcher Dr. Judy Cameron. Cameron specialized in reproductive science and neuroscience at ONPRC.

Cameron chose to focus her presentation Monday night on one of her current research projects in order to explain the process of animal research, how a study is developed and carried out. Cameron is studying the link between exercise and brain function. She explained that she began this particular study with the knowledge that people who exercise have better brain function. More study is needed though, she claimed, because we need to know if other lifestyle factors might be involved in this phenomenon (for example many people who exercise also don't smoke). In order to explore this connection she has some of her test monkeys run on tread mills and others are forced to be sedentary. She then conducts cognitive tests on the monkeys and compares the performances of the two groups. The shocking truth revealed by these studies is that the monkeys who exercise perform better on the tests! She says these monkeys are "more alert and more engaged" than the ones denied exercise. This leads her to conclude that (as was known at the beginning of the study) that exercise is good for the brain. (While she has apparently affirmed this foregone conclusion, she failed to explain how this study can teach us something new about the effects of lifestyle on human brain function. The lifestyle of these monkeys consists of living alone in barren, 2 feet x 2 feet cages in a laboratory in completely artificial situations, and they are of course monkeys, not people.)

Animal research opponents have accused Cameron of conducting monkey studies that have no relevance to human health. One of her research projects was featured on Good Morning America as part of a series about wasteful and silly government-funded science. That particular project involves planting large transmitters under the skin of the backs of young monkeys and then flying remote controlled gliders over their heads and measuring their heart rates. Cameron claims that this research may teach us something about adolescent depression and says we have learned from it that some monkeys are more timid than others

Cameron also claimed that almost no animal research is funded that has been done before. (She didn't mention the fact that in 2002, the National Institutes of Health, with our money, was funding 171 separate projects examining neural information processing in macaque monkeys, 123 separate projects involving visual neural information processing in macaque monkeys, 109 projects studying cocaine in mice, 286 projects studying cocaine in rats, 55 projects studying cocaine in macaque monkeys... More on Funding)

Jim Newman was there to make the standard case for animal research, claiming that it has been an important part of almost all medical discoveries. He gave examples such as how by studying mouse genetics we are hoping to figure out what is behind the obesity epidemic (in people).

Newman also represented OHSU at a public meeting in Beaverton a few months ago where their proposed biosafety level 4 lab was being discussed. Matt Rossell, who also spoke at Monday's forum, spoke that night about the calves used in a cryptosporidium study that had been smuggled out of OHSU's primate center by an employee. When Rossell referred to cryptosporidium as a deadly disease, Newman interrupted saying no it is not deadly, it only kills people with weakened immune systems. (Isn't OHSU supposed to care about sick people?)

After Cameron's presentation, Rossell, who is now a representative of In Defense Of Animals, presented video footage that he secretly shot while working for over 2 years as a technician at the primate center. These images were in stark contrast to the happy monkey image presented by OHSU. Rossell's footage showed monkeys displaying stereotopy, (the repetitive motions displayed by animals who have gone insane from stress and boredom) and monkeys who were mutilating themselves. Some monkeys shown had their limbs duct taped in a failed attempt to stop the self-mutilation.

Rossell contradicted Newman's claims that the promising anti-leukemia drug Gleevec was "tested in mice originally". According to Rossell who spoke with the OHSU scientist, Dr. Brian Drucker, who created Gleevec, this drug was developed in vitro and the breakthrough is attributable to the growing knowledge of molecular biology and human genetics. The drug was later tested on mice, as is convention.

Rossell explained that while animal research and medical breakthroughs both occur, that does not mean there is a causal relationship. He used the example of OHSU's claim that their monkey research has led to better infant formulas by demonstrating the need for certain components found in human breast milk. Rossell pointed out that dozens of non-animal studies have produced the same data. He closed by saying "The people who defend animal research are the people who make money from it".

OHSU's claims that their animal research is useful were also refuted by panelist Dr. Malgosia Cegielski. Cegielski is a clinical psychologist, specializing in depression and eating disorders in children and adolescents (the very people who are supposed to benefit from Cameron's glider study). She has stated that animal studies such as Cameron's have no clinical relevance. She described Cameron's exercise study as "ludicrous" pointing out that it is well known and obvious that exercise helps brain function.

Cegielski stated that there was a time when she accepted animal research as necessary but now considers it outdated, outmoded and not needed. She stated that although it is difficult to let go of the idea that animal research is necessary, we should remember that people used to think the earth was flat.

Cegielski also contradicted OHSU's version of the role of animal research in the development of Gleevec. She read from Dr. Ray Greek's book "Specious Science. How Genetics and Evolution Reveal Why Medical Research on Animals Harms Humans" in which he claims that the discovery of Gleevec was not dependant on animal research. Greek claims that animal trials are not predictive of human response and are therefore irrelevant. In the book he quotes Paul A. Bunn Jr., president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who praises Gleevec as an important breakthrough, "Read my lips, this is real, not mice". Cegielski also spoke about the countless drugs throughout history that were shown to be safe in lab animals but harmed and killed people. She gave the example of a young woman she knew who was among the many killed by the diet drug Fen-Phen which did not harm lab animals.

Even though the public funds all of the research that was discussed Monday night, it is rare for OHSU to participate in such a forum where they might be challenged. OHSU will occasionally appear to speak to students by they have consistently declined to participate in a public debate with other scientists about the validity of animal research.

Editorial note:
Perhaps when Judy Cameron's current grants run out, (when she finishes proving that exercise is good for us and that some monkeys are shyer than others), she could apply for a grant to explore the hypothesis that stepping in front of a speeding bus can be bad for your health. Instead of flying gliders, her assistants could drive an experimental bus into a group of macaque monkeys and then compare those monkeys to a control group of monkeys who were not hit by a speeding bus. This is a much better use of public funds than for example, giving people health care.

homepage: homepage: http://www.ohsukillsprimates.com
phone: phone: 503-972-CAAT

img 03.Feb.2004 23:01



Excellent article 04.Feb.2004 07:29


Thanx for the information on this lethal waste of resources and its mouthpieces.

There are numerous ways to 04.Feb.2004 09:23


imagine that Judy Cameron could have done her ridiculous study on humans, too, factoring in "lifestyle" issues.

It's also deeply disturbing that these so-called scientists act as though each primate, each dog, each cat, each pig, each mouse that they experiment on is exactly the same as every other one of its species, as if they aren't unique individuals with both biological and emotional differences. Just like humans would: some animals react to their confinement and abuse in the research lab with depression and withdrawal, some respond with aggression, some with anxiety and fear, etc. Some are more social than others. Some require more exercise. Some have bodies that go haywire under the stress of the lab environment and produce chemistry that certainly invalidates the supposed pure science of the lab. To treat sentient beings like they come off the assembly line is disgusting.

Throw Judy Cameron in front of the damn bus and do some real good for the world.

And then after that boycott OHSU and help shut down their wasteful and unethical primate center.

animal cruelty wastes time, money, & 04.Feb.2004 10:11

deprives rainforests of seed dispersers

Primates belong in tropical rainforests where they play and gather food plants that contain seeds and berries. When primates consume these fruits and seeds, they eventually poop them out in their travels throughout the rainforest. This enables the seed the ability to enter new teritory and encourages genetic diversity of rainforest species..

This same primate (after having been kidnapped by animal research hired poachers) now sits in a small cage and enters a state of depression/anxiety. The primate is not eating its natural diet of rainforest plants and from this moment begins a slow sad death in the confines of the research facility. The state of depression/anxiety causes the biochemistry and health of the primate to change, thereby skewing any results found from tests. Not to mention those seeds of rainforest plants have one less primate available to help with seed dispersal..

Research scientists need to understand that they are not helping anyone except the pharmaceutical corporations that profit from some new petrochemically derived product sold to people who are sick from toxins in the environment or unhealthy diet. Yes, exercise is a good way to stay healthy, we knew that from when people used to live with nature instead of driving SUVs to office cubicles to sit all day, then come home and watch microwaved TV dinners like the hamster running the eternal wehell of capitalist consumption..

all that $$$$ 05.Feb.2004 12:44

lucky weda

What's really sickening is that these "scientists" are granted billions of dollars to create ridiculous experiments. Their excuse is that they are creating a sort of 'grab bag' of stupid and badly researched bits of information for future generations. Wow, gee, thanx. 'The young scientists of the future thank you, for your untiring dedication and embetterment of humankind.' Assholes.

dishonest presentation to Lake Oswego High School students 05.Feb.2004 14:54

Matt Rossell matt@idausa.org


I wasn't surprised but none the less disappointed to hear the misleading happy monkey spin you put on your research at the animal rights forum at Lake Oswego High School earlier this week.

You told the high school students that your monkeys love to participate in your research, which in your example, consists of crab eating macaques running on a treadmill, joking that you have a hard time getting them to stop. Understandable, if stopping exercise for them means returning to the isolation of their tiny cage. I know better after working for two years with your monkeys at the OHSU Oregon Primate Center. All of the monkeys at the primate center are individuals and all have unique ways of reacting to their unnatural, intensive confinement and manipulation. However, one thing they share in common is a life of fearing their human captors.

I will never forget witnessing one of your monkey subjects who did object to being forced to run the treadmill, going spread eagle across the moving track, refusing to comply. Your response was to tower over the monkey trapped in the plexi glass box, scolding, "BAD MONKEY!" scaring her into moving. I've also read a note you left in your lab, telling your staff to use gloves to scare monkeys that refuse to run. These massive leather gauntlet gloves command tremendous fearful respect from monkeys in labs who have been wrestled unwillingly out of cages by gloved hands for experiments. The public deserves to know that animals in labs are miserable, unwilling captives. To imply anything else is to deny the monkeys their basic dignity and deny the truth to the public who is paying for it.

This doesn't begin to address the wasted tax payer resources for your ridiculous animal studies. Are you willing to defend the scientific viability of your research in a public forum?

Looking forward to your response,

Matt Rossell
In Defense of Animals
Northwest Outreach Coordinator
503 249 9996
5428 NE 30th St.
Portland, OR 97211

Language is a powerful tool.
To transform our companion animals' social and moral status from property to living beings with their own needs and interests, we recommend using the term "guardian", rather than "owner", and "he" or "she" rather than "it", in ordinances, legislation and in everyday language.  http://www.guardiancampaign.org/

Effect on Lake Oswego High School Students 09.Feb.2004 18:43

LOHS student


While the happy monkey spin that Judy Cameron put on the research was misleading like you said, I felt that after your presentation it was pretty clear to the students that the monkeys at OHSU aren't quite so cheery. When i discuss animal testing with other students the usual response is, 'well, cosmetic testing and such is bad, but if we're talking cures for cancer, then by all means yes it is okay.' My fellow students and I were expecting something along those lines from OHSU, so when Cameron talked mainly about researching how exercise is good for you (wow! REALLY!?!) i think it was clear to the students just how cruel and unnecessary the testing is.

Also, this forum is a big improvement over the usual encounter LOHS has with OHSU. As mentioned in the above article, OHSU frequently is involved with the science departments at a number of high schools. Many of my friends have gone on OHSU field trips, bringing back with them the happy monkey pamphlets explaining why testing is necessary. While this forum was probably the most difficult to plan due to OHSU's hostility (they attempted to get us in trouble with the administration for putting together a 'biased' forum, even though we had emailed to invite them long before) I'm glad it came through.
You might also be happy to hear that many of the students now want to start an animal rights club. I certainly would like to get involved with IDA.

Thank you for your presentation--it was definately an eye-opener.


Anyone heard from Judy? 23.Mar.2004 14:36

Matt Rossell matt@idausa.org

First, Great to hear your feedback Lelah. I hope that new AR group happens! But I still haven't heard back from Judy Cameron about a public debate about her research... what are you afraid of Judy?