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Oregon Primate Research Facility Under Scrutiny After Deaths

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A state lawmaker in Oregon He has used thousands of pages from redacted documents to launch legislation seeking more accountability and oversight for a primate research center with a long history in complaints.

Incidents The Oregon National Primate Research CenterAssociated with Oregon’s largest hospital, include one in which two monkeys died after being placed into a scalding cage-washing system. Other Neglect resulted in the death of animals. Workers Low morale, some workers have been drinking while on the job, and many have complained about dysfunctional leadership, according to the documents.

The Problems at the facility in suburban Portland, OregonThe controversy erupted amid fierce debate between animal rights activists who think experimenting on animals is unethical as well as researchers who argue that the experiments save or improve human lives.

The The United States took a small step towards ending animal testing Congress A bill was passed and signed into law. President Joe Biden In DecemberThis eliminated the need for drugs under development to be tested on animals before they could be used in human trials. Advocates You want Computer modeling and organ chip technology To be used in its place, however, Food Drug Agency Administration Still, animals may be required.

“Reasonable people can disagree on whether using animals for medical research is scientifically valid or ethical,” Oregon Rep. David Gomberg said in an interview. “But we have to agree that it’s not being done very well here in Oregon.”

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After The shocking incident Gomberg You can request public records to find out more about the research center. He For thousands of pages redacted from internal documents, the applicant had to wait for 17 month and pay a $1,000 fee.

The According to documents, dozens of center employees warned about the dangers of a leadership culture that shuns responsibility, takes shortcuts and doesn’t hold people accountable.

Gomberg It is now over A bill The Oregon Legislature We call for more transparency, accountability, oversight, and oversight at the center. Oregon Health & Science University.

Asked To comment on the topics raised by GombergOHSU sent a letter from Peter Barr-Gillespie, the university’s chief research This isficer and executive vice president, in which he said faculty and staff at the primate center “understand and embrace the responsibility to provide compassionate and leading-edge veterinary care that comes with the privilege of working with animals.”

“While human error and the unpredictable behavior of undomesticated animals are impossible to completely eliminate, we strive to do everything in our power to employ best practices in engineering, training and supervision to protect against them,” Barr-Gillespie said.

The Oregon facility was cited for more violations between 2014 and 2022 — with 31 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act — than any of the six other primate research centers funded by the National Institutes of HealthAccording to You can find more information at Jan. 19 report InvestigateWest?, SeattleNonprofit investigative journalism based on the law.

The Other NIH-funded centres are managed by the University This is California-DavisThe University This is Washington, Tulane UniversityThe Texas Biomedical Research InstituteThe University This is Wisconsin-Madison and Emory University.

In their petition, the Oregon employees — whose names were redacted in the version obtained by Gomberg — said they were devastated by the deaths of the two monkeys, named Earthquake and Whimsy, in August 2020. One of the monkeys died from the scalding water after the cage it was in was accidentally placed in an industrial washing machine. The other survived but had to be euthanized because of its injuries.

“Many of us now grapple with doubts about our purposes here and about our investments in our careers. Our love for these animals leaves us torn between a deep sense of responsibility for stewarding these animals’ welfare and a profound uncertainty of (leadership’s) willingness to enact meaningful reform,” the employees wrote.

Gomberg said Oregon Health & Science University, or OHSU, has resisted outside scrutiny.

“My focus with this legislation is simply on accountability and transparency and letting the public know exactly what’s going on at this facility,” Gomberg said.

When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also sought public records, OHSU unreasonably withheld photos and video, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled last July.

Furthermore, university police used a contractor — Pennsylvania-based Information Network Associates, which was founded by a former FBI special agent — to provide information on the animal welfare group’s activities and political and social views. Judge Andrew Lavin ordered the university to delete the information, saying the practice violated state law that bans police surveillance unrelated to criminal investigations.

In October, OHSU agreed to pay $37,900 to settle a federal fine for Animal Welfare Act violations between 2018 and 2021, including incidents in which a monkey was euthanized after its head got caught between two PVC pipes; voles who died of thirst; gerbils who died of starvation; and the scalding incident.

Barr-Gillespie said appropriate measures are taken to prevent a recurrence of incidents and that animal studies are conducted only when other methods are inadequate or too dangerous for human participants.

Research at the Oregon center has contributed to a compound that promotes the rebuilding of the protective sheath around nerve cells that is damaged in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, identification of a gene that could lead to development of medication to prevent and treat alcoholism and improved understanding of brain injury and repair, among many other advances, Barr-Gillespie said.

Gomberg, though, said “there are systemic problems within the institution that need to be addressed.”

“I haven’t seen anything that indicates to me that there aren’t more problems on the horizon,” the lawmaker said.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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