The Dr. Moreau of Vanderbilt

As I was reading the research about Non-Human Primate Neural grafting (which truthfully was way over my head), and also as I was reading about the many female scientists in Ship Fever, I was reminded of an icon I have admired since I wrote my first research paper on her in seventh grade, Jane Goodall. She was revolutionary for her research on chimpanzees, specifically discovering that these majestic creatures engaged in tool making. The many images of Goodall interacting with the animals depict them, as child like, curious, even affectionate. This description is furthered by the anecdote of the naturalist, who is used to killing animals for their skins; take’s a baby orangutan Ali, as his pet.

I cringed when I thought of this creature in this cold mechanical way “Non-Human Primates”. Especially considering we are genetically extremely similar, containing 99% of the same genetic material. I was reminded of a rumor I had heard about a lab underneath Wilson, which conducts research on monkeys. I was surprised to find information about the rumor on the Peta website, as well as information on a Vanderbilt professor and researcher allegedly responsible for drilling into monkeys brains without anesthesia.

Obviously Peta is a source with it’s own bias and goals to pursue, and I found more information on inside vandy. His guilt had not been definitively proved, and you are free to decide for yourself, I found it extremely interesting that the ethics of animal research are right in our own backyard! Check out these links if you are interested in learning more about the story.

-Hannah Fasick

~ by hannahfiasco on March 4, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Dr. Moreau of Vanderbilt”

  1. This blog post immediately caught my attention, as I am also a Goodall fan. However, upon reading, I became increasingly worried and anxious about Vanderbilt and how they treat these labs. I’ve heard about the monkey labs (and actually have a friend who has visited them). I also know a boy who works in a lab that does experiments on mice – and they have to have their own mice crematorium because so many die each day.

    I understand the need for experimentation for the sake of health and knowledge, but this is obviously very extreme. It immediately takes me back to The Island of Dr Moreau and our class discussion of where the line should be drawn. It was suggested that pain is only important when the object is aware of what is happening to them, what is causing them pain, and remembers this pain. Seems to me that all of these are horrifically true for these monkeys, as I’m sure they are at least marginally aware of what is happening to them. I mean, my dog even remembers who in the family is willing to pet her or feed her (I totally give in to begging) and doesn’t even try and get my mom involved, because my golden retriever remembers who is more likely to give in to begging. Same type of thing with the monkeys, I think, as they probably have some kind of conscious/memory thing going on.

    The PETA website gave more information than inside vandy (no surprise, as I’m sure Vanderbilt is keeping the case on the down low). Wish I knew how this ended, keep me posted if you find anything else out!

    – Stephanie Mills

  2. I understand the concern of using animals in research labs. And I totally agree that doing inhumane things like drilling into monkeys without anesthesia is very wrong. However, being a research scientist, I feel the need to defend my “kind.” Animal testing is a necessary evil in my mind. Using mice or rats to discover novel treatments and test different methods seems more humane to me than testing directly on humans. In addition, these animals are breed in a controlled laboratory setting and would otherwise not have been. We must trust that these researchers are not using more animals than necessary for their experiments and that they are killing the animals in a humane, unharmful way.

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