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USC researcher banned from all animal use after watchdog complaints

From The Animals Voice, May 3, 2022

New Reports Reveal Botched/Suspended Experiments, Animal Abuse; Watchdog Calls for More Bans/Firings

The University of Southern California (USC) has permanently banned a Principal Investigator from all animal use following multiple complaints from a national non-governmental watchdog—troubled projects involved in $10 million in funding.

SAEN, a nonprofit that investigates animal abuse and illegal activities at U.S. research facilities, first contacted USC in 2019 exposing multiple instances of violations of federal law, animal abuse and suspended protocols.

The watchdog targeted USC again by contacting the university’s President and Board of Trustees in February of 2021. Following a repeat incident of improper euthanasia, USC’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) voted to suspend the experiment following additional abuses in May of 2021.

A USC report to a federal funding agency states that consequences for the Principal Investigator included:

  1. “removal of the PI from all IACUC protocols and all oversight of animal research.”
  2. “transfer of responsibility of all animal research to a colleague.”

The PI was banned for issues including repeated incidents of improper euthanasia which involved breaking the necks of conscious animals, said SAEN, adding the project is only one of four recently suspended by the USC IACUC, as disclosed in FOIA’ed reports.

The suspended projects are connected to over $10 million in annual funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The second project was suspended for performing unapproved surgeries and denying animals pain relief.

Another experiment was suspended for keeping sick animals alive following the performance of what were supposed to be terminal procedures.

Another project ignored animals who had been denied pain relief “exhibiting signs of severe pain.”

Yet another project kept terminal animals alive for years, as they experienced infections around ‘cranial windows,’ transparent panes attached over openings cut in animals’ skulls.

SAEN charged USC’s credibility in the scientific community is in jeopardy—in addition to suspending multiple protocols and banning staff, two of USC’s journal articles have been retracted.

SAEN has again contacted USC’s administration (President and Board of Trustees) calling for more staff bans, and terminations. SAEN’s letter, which includes all relevant reports, is available here.

“It is good to see that USC has finally removed one of their criminal abusers from all connection to any animal use whatsoever,” said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., a SAEN co-founder, adding, “This is a good first step, but more heads need to roll.”

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