Addressing the Board of Oklahoma State University
To Whom it May Concern,
It has recently come to my attention that the president of Oklahoma State University, Dr. Hargis, has canceled a National Institute of Health-approved project on pathogen testing in primates, presumably caving in to vocal minority pressure concerning the use of animals in research. Despite the full approval of veterinary boards, the steps taken to maximize animal welfare, and the full backing of the National Institute of Health, the project was canceled in an abrupt and seemingly-arbitrary manner.
I personally find this sudden reversal of an approved study surprising. The primate facilities at OSU are well known, particularly their baboon facility, which the study intended to utilize. The baboon research facilities have previously yielded many high-impact papers in areas such as pathology, and results from these studies have been and are currently being taken into account in the search for treatments for human disease. The study which was itself canceled is one that could provide key understanding to the development and propagation of highly dangerous diseases such an anthrax, and thus which could provide results with a highly important impact on human health. Given the excellent animal welfare rules in place at OSU, the history of the baboon program, and the valuable research that has emerged from the university on these topics, it is therefore concerning that the president of OSU have given in to personal pressures and opinions in halting the study.
I would also like to point out that the cancellation of this study sets a disturbing precedent for animal research programs in place at OSU as well as at other universities. It is very worrying that the president of a public university should cancel a government-funded research study due to personal concerns. This precedent could place the research of other investigators at OSU and at other schools in jeopardy, potentially endangering studies that are essential to the understanding of human and animal health and disease.
I therefore would call upon you to urge Dr. Hargis to reconsider his ban on this government-approved study, and not to cave to the pressure of a vocal few which would attempt to halt many animal studies necessary for the understanding of animal and human disease. It is imperative that studies to improve human and animal survival and quality of life go forward, and in the past, OSU has ensured that these studies proceed with maximum quality control and concern for animal welfare. Please do not jeopardize the excellent research reputation of OSU by allowing the personal concerns of a vocal minority to prevent necessary and appropriately performed research.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
For more coverage of this issue, see Drugmonkey and the ever-perspicacious erv. Additional coverage and addresses of the board (please write!) at Speaking of Research.
Filed under: Activism