Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

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Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Death, Disease & Insanity: Health and Well-Being of Primates at New England National Primate Research Center/Harvard
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN
513-575-5517 [email protected]  


The Annual Progress Report for the New England National Primate Research Center (NENPRC) with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contains many pieces of information which will reveal significant issues within the labs of NENPRC. During this reporting year (2002 2003) the NENPRC brought approximately $216 million to Harvard. The vast majority of this funding comes from the federal government through the National Institutes of Health. Approximately $0.7 million of this funding total came from private sources.

The effect of monetary issues on animal experimentation, and thereby the condition of the primates is difficult to assess. For example, the center has ten projects (9 sub-projects of the primate center grant and one independent grant) that deal with issues of abnormal behavior in captive/isolated primates. Over 320 primates are described as having some level of abnormal behavior in the abstract of one of these projects. If these animals were not the subject of so many research projects, which each bringing more funding to the Center and thereby to Harvard, their situation might be improved. However, since potentially millions of dollars are dependent on the abnormal behavior of these animals, it is unlikely that their situation will change in any meaningful way.

The area of addiction experimentation in primates is one which bears mentioning in this section. Roger Spealman has four independent grants which examine addiction in primates which are funded by the NIH at the NENPRC. There are also thirteen sub-projects of the NENPRC grant which fund research in this same area, by the same researcher. The four independent grants total $1,032,210 in federal funding, while the sub-projects are estimated to be worth $841,450. This area of research, by this researcher alone, likely brings $1,873,660 to Harvard, with a substantial amount also going to the researcher as well.

Spealman studies cocaine addiction in squirrel monkeys and heroin addiction in macaque monkeys. This is a highly duplicated area of experimentation. The NIH funds 76 projects which examine cocaine or heroin in macaque monkeys, squirrel monkeys, or baboons. In light of the number of projects which exist in this area, it is highly possible that unnecessary duplication exists.

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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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