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University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Ophthalmologist Steven Kaufman's statement on the scientific validity of Dario Ringach's Research

29 August 2006

Dear Mr. Budkie.

Thank you for allowing me to comment on the clinical applicability of Dr. Ringach's research.

There has been a huge volume of research looking at neural connections in the ocular pathways in animals. As a clinical ophthalmologist, I have not found this relevant to practice. Amblyopia involves abnormalities in these pathways, but the principals of amblyopia management have been derived from human clinical practice, not from the laboratory. For those interested in studying neural pathways, it is possible to study these pathways safely and non-invasively in humans, particularly with high-resolution functional MRI scans. Functional MRI cannot yield exactly the same information of single-cell studies, but it has the decided advantage of looking at the species that interests us the most -- humans. I do not think it is reasonable for people claim that the discontinuation of Dr. Ringach's animal experiments will impair patient care.

I do not know whether Dr. Ringach's decision to discontinue his animal experiments was due to genuine concern about the ALF or for other reasons. We know that many people have left research because they had difficulty getting funding or because they sought greater financial rewards in the private sector.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
Cochair, Medical Research Modernization Committee


See: Signed Letter
See abstract of: Spatial Overlap of ON and OFF Subregions and Its Relation to Response Modulation Ratio in Macaque Primary Visual Cortex
See abstract of: Correlation of local and global orientation and spatial frequency tuning in macaque V1

"This lab performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered."

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Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

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