Princeton University is cited by USDA for violations involving primates used in experiments

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Princeton University is cited by USDA for violations involving primates used in experiments

By Lisa Coryell,, June 12, 2011

PRINCETON BOROUGH — Princeton University continues to run afoul of federal regulations in its testing of primates, including depriving some of the animals of water for over 24 hours, according to a report obtained by The Times.

Lab inspections conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February and April resulted in six violations, most of them involving the watering schedules of the primates used in experiments.

Similar violations were found during an inspection last year at the facility, which university officials said houses 15 macaques and 10 marmosets, and an animal research watchdog group is calling for the federal government to halt all primate experiments at Princeton University.

Inside the research lab at Princeton, neuroscientists study the brains, actions and behavior of the monkeys to gain better insight into the human brain and neurology.

“The treatment of animals at this facility illustrates attitudes of carelessness and negligence that must be punished so that meaningful changes can be made,” said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of the organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN).

The Cincinnati-based group monitors animal experiments nationwide and although it does not rank violators, Budkie said Princeton University’s track record is “among the worst” in violating animal welfare laws.

“This is not something we see in a lot of facilities, this consistent pattern of violations related to the same types of experiments,” he said. “Clearly there are major problems in the primate experiments. They have established a multi-year-pattern violating federal law.”

A spokesman for the university called SAEN’s accusations “fundamentally inaccurate.“

“As clearly stated in the USDA reports, the majority of the citations were for deficiencies in record-keeping, not for the research protocols or the experiments themselves,” said Martin Mbugua, university spokesman. Research protocols are plans that describe exactly how a clinical trial or experiment is to be conducted.

Mbugua acknowledged a breakdown of communication in the case of the primate denied water from early on a Sunday until 3 p.m. the following day. He said water was not given on the schedule approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), a body that federal law dictates be established at all institutions that do such research.

“We found that a breakdown in communication led to the deviation in water scheduling, and we have taken steps to prevent a recurrence,” he said.

The report cited other deviations in protocols approved by the IACUC, including “inconsistencies in the use of the animals from what was described in the IACUC protocol.”

In June 2010 the university was cited for 11 procedural violations during a routine inspection of the primate research facility, including insufficient water levels for animals and insufficient painkillers following surgeries.

See also: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

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