Judy Cameron of the OHSU primate research center has made a career of conducting monkey experiments that have no application to human medicine.
Among Cameron's pointless experiments:
∑ Flying gliders over monkey's heads and measuring their heart rates with large hardware sewn under their skin. Cameron claims this could teach us about adolescent depression and anxiety.
∑ Running monkeys on treadmills to see if exercise is good for the brain.
∑ Giving baby monkeys a surrogate parent after removing their real mother. This has allegedly shown us that monkeys who receive surrogate parents do better than monkeys left orphaned.
∑ Using monkeys to model women who stop ovulating because of stress, including psychosocial stress, too much exercise and excessive dieting. An alleged goal is to find drugs to treat this type of infertility.
∑ "Behavioral studies are being used to determined if infants who receive greater social support have a decreased probability of developing anxious and depressive behaviors, compared to infants who receive less social support". --excerpted from grant abstract
These studies would be laughable if the consequences weren't so grim for us as well as the monkeys. We have paid millions of tax dollars for Cameron's experiments, which at best duplicate what we already know from human observation. Lab monkeys are not even good models for normal monkeys because of the stressful and unnatural conditions of a lab. Common sense tells us that they cannot teach us about complex human social and psychological phenomena. Cameron has even planned to learn about human divorce by creating fake nuclear monkey families and removing the father to see the effects.
While OHSU's primate center gets more and more tax dollars, programs that actually help people are disappearing because of budget cuts. From 2000 through 2003, Cameron received $8,792,889 in National Institutes of Health grants, as well as portions of the OHSU primate center's base grants. The primate center is in the process of a massive expansion.
Cameron explains in her own words what is wrong with her experiments, commenting on the surrogate parent study: "The results are intriguing because they match observations on humans who lose their parents... Another experiment suggested a way to ease the stress: adoption. ... This probably translates to humans"
Cameron claims that it is necessary to study childhood mental health problems like depression and anxiety in monkeys because parents won't let scientists study their "normal" children. Clearly this is not true. In just one example, results of a multi-year study conducted by the National Institutes of Mental Health on "normal teens" and their brain development were recently widely reported. Observation of children and the availability of new diagnostic technology such as MRIs have taught us what we know about childhood psychology. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Malgosia Ciegelski, who specializes in treating children and adolescents, "Are we learning about human depression by tormenting monkeys? As a clinician, I don't buy it. As taxpayers, we all do".
"I cannot recall a single instance where my clinical judgment was even remotely influenced by the results of a psychological study using animals as subjects or 'models.' " -Michael Klaper, M.D.
Is this how we want our money spent or do we want to actually help people who suffer from mental illness? Public money should benefit the public and not be wasted on corporate welfare. We need to demand accountability from OHSU.
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