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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

University of Iowa target of animal rights group - Members say research done to win grants

Friday, February 11, 2005
By Kristen Schorsch
Iowa City Press-Citizen

An Ohio-based animal rights group attacked the University of Iowa's use of animal research Thursday, saying UI conducts research for grant money and not for science.

"The careers of these scientists reveal a tragic irony: Under the guise of alleviating mental suffering in humans they induce distress, injure and kill animals who are intentionally bred to be docile," said Leana Stormont, Midwest coordinator for Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, during a news conference.

UI officials refute the claims and say they follow strict national standards regarding proper research protocol for laboratory animals.

"We do not engage in unnecessary animal research; nor do we conduct research for the purpose of monetary gain," UI Provost Michael Hogan and Bill Decker, UI interim vice president for research, said in a statement.

Calling out supposed NIH-funded animal experiments, Stormont targeted researcher Gary Van Hoesen, a UI professor of anatomy, cell biology and neurology, for his research on macaque monkeys.

"This is not about science," she said about research she called a "senseless waste of lives and tax dollars." "This is about money -- attracting hundreds of thousands of dollars to UI's coffers."

However, Van Hoesen said he has not used monkeys since 1982. He now conducts research on the human brain related to Alzheimer's disease. He called Stormont's comments about money and science "shortsighted."

The National Institutes of Health last year funded about $22 billion in grants to universities and research institutions nationwide. Of those research projects, more than 50 percent have an animal component, and most of the animals are rodents, such as rats, mice and guinea pigs, according to the NIH.

In fiscal year ending June 30, 2004, UI had $170 million in NIH awards, said Jennifer Lassner, assistant director of UI Sponsored Programs.

Stormont, 30, a UI law school student who conducted the news conference in front of Spence Laboratories at Iowa and Gilbert streets, said S.A.E.N. is not connected to the Animal Liberation Front, a decentralized worldwide animal rights group.

ALF members allegedly vandalized Spence Laboratories and Seashore Hall in November 2004, removing animals, spilling chemicals and damaging computers. ALF claimed responsibility for destroying the research of targeted psychology department members in an e-mail sent to media Nov. 18.

Stormont, the lone speaker, said UI conducts repetitive research. She also said if people want to find cures for human diseases, they should use humans in clinical trials. In addition, she suggested researchers use alternative testing methods, such as computer modeling.

Stormont also targeted was Amy Poremba, a UI assistant professor in the psychology department, who also was one of several researchers whose work the Animal Liberation Front vandalized. She is conducting research on primates to study how the brain learns and remembers things.

Poremba said if she mistreated her animals they would not cooperate.

"We of course want to treat our animals well," Poremba said. "I'm asking the animals to make decisions about the sounds."

She added that NIH grants are heavily scrutinized for redundancy and difficult to get.

S.A.E.N. has filed requests for copies of all active primate research protocols, primate health care records and necropsy reports for the last two years, Stormont said.

Chuck Green, director of UI Public Safety, said a committee formed after the ALF attack continues to meet about campus security. He would not comment on specific security in Spence Labs or Seashore Hall.

Reach Kristen Schorsch at 339-7360 or [email protected] .

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