Monthly Archives: February 2012

Part 2: University of Toronto ends live primate research – Outsourcing Controversy

 Earlier this week we wrote about the University of Toronto’s public statements concerning the end of their on-site primate research. A number of broader questions were raised by considering similar cases and articles.  Among them, what does it mean for a university to claim that it does not engage in a particular type of research?  In the case of the University of Toronto, the same article announcing the end of their primate research indicated that Univesity of Toronto researchers will continue primate studies at other institutions. 

Although this seems like a small point that concerns only a single animal research program, it is illustrative of larger questions and issues that deserve more thoughtful consideration.  One is what it means to say that a researcher, institution, or nation does or does not conduct a particular type of research. It is not at all obvious, and thus is an easy thing to manipulate in public presentation. For example, ask the following questions:

  1. Does that mean only that they do not house animals and conduct studies, or do not conduct that work independently on their own campus or within their own borders?
  2. Or does it mean that they not only do not conduct the work, but also do not support the work in any way, with collaborative effort, resources, or their approval? 
  3. Or does it mean that they not only do not conduct the work, but also do not support the work and would refuse any benefit arising from the work?

It is not only the University of Toronto ending its housing of monkeys and instead relying on collaborative opportunities in the U.S.that raises these questions. The point is also well illustrated in considering whether Canada and other countries are, or are not, involved in biomedical research with chimpanzees. One of the frequently raised points used to argue against ape research is that biomedical research with chimpanzees is conducted in only two countries — the U.S. and Gabon.  But what does that mean? And is that really true?

In fact, a recent CTV news show highlighted the fact that studies for Canadians are performed at a U.S. chimpanzee research facility funded largely by a federal grant to maintain national research resources in the U.S.  The fact that Canadians are involved in chimpanzee research is not hidden in any way, but is easy to misconstrue.

In Canada, there’s no outright ban, but no one is actually doing it.

Instead, Canadians commission studies at research facilities like the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, the largest facility of its type in the world. It’s home to nearly 7,000 primates, 360 of them chimpanzees.”

It is not only Canadians. Scientists from a number of other countries engage in behavioral and biomedical research collaboration involving chimpanzees housed in U.S. research institutions. Furthermore, when the Netherlands became the last European country to ban chimpanzee research almost a decade ago, it was acknowledged that because the opportunity for chimpanzee research remained in the U.S.everyone could be assured of continuation of the work without the cost, controversy, or responsibility of having to maintain the possibility within their own country.  A 2003 article highlights this point:

The end of European ape research, long sought by animal rights activists, was accelerated by a report published in 2001 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW). It concluded that high costs and decreasing scientific need had made chimp studies all but superfluous. In rare instances where ape research will be crucial to combat a human disease, the panel said, large colonies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. would be better equipped.

However, even in parliament itself some hypocrisy was acknowledged. Because ‘if the occasion arises’, the government quoted the KNAW report, Dutch researchers would still be free to do experiments abroad. Observed House member Bas van der Vlies (SGP): ‘Since through a back door [the Netherlands will profit from [ape research elsewhere, I see no reason for us to start beating our chests like gorillas.’”

The point made by Bas van der Vlies is a good one and one especially relevant now as the U.S. weighs legislation to end invasive chimpanzee research.  It is also more broadly relevant because it underscores why the decision of single entity, institution or nation, to end a particular type of research must be viewed within the context of the range of alternative opportunities and avenues that will serve the overall goal.  In other words, the decision to ban an avenue of research means one thing if that choice will result in a true end to the work. The same decision is inherently less risky if it is cushioned by knowledge that another institution or another country is committed to maintaining that research avenue and shouldering the accompanying burdens.

It is also true that the decision to “end” a particular kind of work is often more reflective of different types of cost considerations.  For example, note increasing outsourcing of animal research to other countries with less developed regulatory structure and lower costs. Whether that is good for animal welfare, science, research institutions, and the public is a topic of discussion among scientists and is one that should be given more thoughtful public consideration. We believe the US public is better served by advocating for reasonable improvements in animal welfare while keeping important medical research at home. The adoption of unrealistic policies and regulations that dramatically increase the cost of the work, while not significantly impacting on the well-being of the animals, will help drive the research overseas, with negative consequences on the biomedical leadership of our country and uncertain consequences for the well-being of the animals.  

So how do we tell the difference between individuals, institutions, and countries genuinely committed on moral or ethical grounds to ending particular types of research, rather than in only displacing it to others?  One piece of evidence would be for those claiming that the work is either unnecessary or unethical to also make clear that they do not simply outsource the work to other institutions or countries. 

Another would be for them to decline any benefits from the work.  For example, although we are aware of no efforts underway to preclude citizens of countries that disallowed such work to benefit from the findings or any advances made through chimpanzee biomedical research, for example hepatitis C vaccines currently under development, it would seem that this would be an easy way for people to affirm their commitment to the global picture. (Whether it should be habitat countries or a world-wide body who provides consent on behalf of the wild apes for whom conservationists are arguing should benefit from vaccines developed from research in laboratory studies of nonhuman primates might be a separate issue.)

What is gained from considering this more complicated picture?  In the case of the recent University of Toronto press coverage, a reminder that it is disingenuous at best to solicit public approval by disavowing research that the institution has conducted, has benefited from, and will continue to be involved in — albeit with the majority of risk and cost assumed by other institutions. In the case of chimpanzee research, a reminder that as long as non-U.S. interests benefit from and participate in studies conducted in the U.S., it is not accurate to claim that it is only the U.S.that sanctioned and benefited from such work.  And that includes the apes in Africa who could benefit from the vaccines developed via laboratory research in theU.S. and elsewhere.

Finally, we would advise a critical eye towards any articles in which universities, pharmaceutical companies, or countries claim that they are not engaged in primate or other animal research.  Those who have simply chosen to do the same work elsewhere or via collaboration should be clear about their involvement. Similarly, those whose work depends on data, tissues, or animal models developed by others, or at other institutions, should acknowledge a responsibility and involvement in the live animal work as well. 

Allyson J. Bennett

End of Primate Research at the University of Toronto?

Intended or not, comments by a university administrator and veterinarian in some Canadian news articles last week likely gave some readers a distorted view not only of the status of research at the University of Toronto, but of animal research more broadly. A pair of articles reported that primate research at the U of T had ended.  In one titled “University of Toronto stops research on live monkeys” a university official explains:

“They were our very last ‘non-human’ primates and we have no intention of using any more. Technology now lets us get the same information from smaller animals,” said Peter Lewis, the U of T’s associate vice-president of research.”

Except that the press coverage also says that the U of T scientist Prof. Barry Sessle, whose highly regarded research orofacial pain and neuromuscular function and dysfunction straddles both laboratory animal research and clinical research involving human subjects, will “continue to do monkey studies in partnership with a lab in Chicago.”  We are also aware that University of Toronto researchers undertake primate research even closer to home at another research institute in Toronto. Does the U of T administration exclude their own faculty from the “we” in the “we have no intention of using any more [primates]” statement?
In an article headlined “With last monkeys dead, U of T sees a shift in animal research,” the university’s veterinarian adds his view of the need for primates in research.

“Across the country, Dr. Harapa has watched the appetite for research primates waning. Their cost and availability are factors, and universities do feel some ethical pressure, he said. “But the main reason is that people have just adopted other animals for their experimental needs – mostly rats and mice.

Comments by Lewis and Harapa raise a number of questions. Foremost, we wonder whether U of T might want to correct any possible misimpression that their comments apply only to their own research programs, which are apparently now suited by a restricted range of animal models?  For example, Lewis’ statement that: “Technology now lets us get the same information from smaller animals.” obviously applies to a subdomain of study, as do Harapa’s comments:

“We stopped using dogs and cats a few years ago too. We can do so much research now by genetically modifying a mouse,” said Harapa. “Under a sector microscope you would hardly know the difference between a human heart and that of a mouse.

While these thoughts may be relevant to specific work at U of T, they are obviously not meant to be applicable to the broad set of research questions under study elsewhere.  We are well aware that genetically modified mice and rats are an increasingly powerful tool for biomedical research, but they cannot yet replace species such as dogs, pigs and macaques in all necessary studies.

Some institutions may find it tempting to dodge public controversy by allowing a perception that the absence of on-site animal research reflects an institution’s commitment to not participate, support, or benefit from that work. Encouraging that public perception is an easy path to gain favor with animal activists and other opponents. But this is not a good path, if for no other reason than the fact that solving a research problem involves a range of animal models at various points in time. It is disingenuous to deny the value of research with a particular species because your institution has decided to discontinue working with that species. If nothing else, those inclined to dodge should consider that they are deriving benefit from the work of their colleagues at the institutions still willing to assume the risk and responsibility. That argues in favor of acknowledging the value of the work in your public statements.

It is unfortunate that these articles contain no comments by either Harapa or Lewis that might improve public appreciation of the value of a range of animal models, or any statement of support for the valuable research undertaken by Prof. Sessle, whose primate studies drew the attention of animal rights activists.

Allyson Bennett

Addendum 2012/03/12:

In a statement to the science journal Nature  UT associate vice-president of research Peter Lewis clarified some of his earlier statements, stating that:

There are many types of research that require the use of non-human primates. Our researchers are not engaged in any of them at the moment. If a proposed research project at [the University of Toronto] required the use of non-human primates and was scientifically and ethically justified, then we would endeavor to support it.”

While we welcome this statement we are less than totally satisfied by it, as we are aware of several research programs under the direction of UT researchers  that are very likely to require the use of non-human primates in the near future, including the stroke research discussed in the Nature News article and also research on other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It may be the case that no research protocols involving non-human primates  are currently before the UT Office of Research Ethics, but there is every chance that in the coming months one or more will be submitted, even if the actual work will be done at the labs of an affiliated institute such as the Toronto Western Research Institute rather than UT itself. Will UT then issue another statement further clarifying their position?

AAAS recognizes the work of Speaking of Research members

On Friday two of our number, David Jentsch and Dario Ringach, travelled to Vancouver to join their UCLA colleague Edythe London in receiving the prestigious Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with over 125,000 members, and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award “honors scientists and engineers whose exemplary actions, often taken at significant personal cost, have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility”. Recent recipients including the climate scientist James Hansen, NCSE director and defender of science education Eugenie Scott, and epidemiologist and public health expert David Michaels.

Both Dario and David have been long time SR committee members, writing numerous articles for the website on the importance of animals in research, the importance of researchers speaking up, and the dangers of animal rights extremism.

Both scientists are at the heart of the Pro-Test for Science, the movement which stood up to extremists at UCLa in 2009. Around 800 staff, students and members of the public followed Ringach and Jentsch’s lead as they marched through the streets of Los Angeles in support of lifesaving medical research. Well over 10,000 people followed their example by signing the Pro-Test Petition (supported by Pro-Test for Science, Americans for Medical Progress and Speaking of Research) in support of well regulated biomedical research on animals.

Edythe London has also been at the forefront of the battle to explain the role of animal testing in the development of modern medicine. In November 2007, she wrote a Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times to explain “Why I use animals in my research”. This excellent article was a brave and important stand for a researcher who had previously been targeted by animal rights extremists.

Animal studies allow us to test potential treatments without confounding factors, such as prior drug use and other experiences that complicate human studies. Even more important, they allow us to test possibly life-saving treatments before they are considered safe to test in humans. Our animal studies address the effects of chronic drug use on brain functions, such as decision-making and self-control, that are impaired in human addicts. We are also testing potential treatments, and all of our studies comply with federal laws designed to ensure humane care.

The AAAS made this award to Dario, David and Edythe in recognition of:

 “their rare courage, their strong defense of the importance of the use of animals in research, and their refusal to remain silent in the face of intimidation from animal rights extremists.”

While noting that:

“AAAS has consistently supported the responsible use of animals in research, testing and education. A 1990 statement of the AAAS Board and Council noted, for instance, that “the use of animals has been and continues to be essential not only in applied research with direct clinical applications in humans and animals, but also in research that furthers the understanding of biological processes.”

With this award the largest scientific organisation in the U.S. reiterates its unequivocal support for the responsible use of animals in biomedical research, and emphasises the increasing need for both scientists and professional organisations to engage the public in both scientific and ethical issues of great importance to our society.

We at Speaking of Research are grateful for the contribution which all three scientists have made to advance the public understanding of this controversial area of science – and we congratulate them for their accomplishments.


Tom Holder

Can stem cells repair broken hearts? Thanks to animal research we may soon find out!

On Monday – and appropriately perhaps just in time for St. Valentine’s day – a team of scientists at the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute led by Dr. Eduardo Marbán announced that in a small clinical trial they had repaired damaged heart tissue using an infusion stem cells derived from the heart attack patient’s own heart. The stem cells used- known as Cardiosphere Derived Cells (CDCs) were obtained from a small population of cells isolated from biopsied heart tissue that spontaneously form clusters known as cardiospheres in culture, and have the potential to differentiate into a variety of cardiac cell types.

It’s important to note that the main purpose of this trial was to demonstrate that the technique is safe enough for larger clinical trials, so the significant reduction in scarring and increase in the muscle volume is an impressive result. As yet they have not been able to demonstrate that this improved healing is associated with improved heart function, a question that will need to be addressed in larger clinical trials with longer-term follow up of patients.

In the press release issued by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Dr. Marbán notes that “The effects are substantial, and surprisingly larger in humans than they were in animal tests.”, which is true, though in the pre-clinical research that led to this clinical trial Dr. Marbán and colleagues demonstrated that CDCs are able to promote tissue repair and improve cardiac function in several animal models.

Among several papers reporting on this work, two stand out as particularly important.  The first was published in 2007 (1) when Dr.  Marbán’s team reported that transplanted human CDCs reduced scarring, increased heart tissue volume and improved cardiac function compared to controls when injected into the damaged areas of mouse hearts following induction of a heart attack. They followed-up this study with another to determine the safety and effectiveness of this technique in a large animal model, as well as refining their infusion technique.  In this study, published in 2009 (2), they demonstrated that infusion of autologous CDCs – stem cells derived from the same individual later treated – could safely promote tissue repair and functional improvement in pigs following an  induced heart attack.  While the reduction in scarring and the amount of new tissue seen in these studies (and in several other studies by this and other research groups) was not quite as large as that seen in the human clinical trial earlier this week, it was certainly significant enough to convince them that this approach should be evaluated in a clinical trial.

It’s worth noting how quickly this field has progressed, as CDCs were first isolated by a team at La Sapienza University in Rome as recently as 2004. In a paper published in that year Professor Alessandro Giacomello and colleagues reported the isolation and characterization of CDCs from mice and humans, and demonstrated that they could survive when injected into mice and differentiate into a range of cardiac cell types, as well as providing the first evidence that CDCs could help repair tissue following a heart attack.

While we will have to wait for further clinical trials before we can know just how beneficial this therapy will be, there’s no denying that it is an exciting development, and one that has only got this far thanks to animal research.  And it’s worth remembering that this is only one of numerous innovative approaches being examined as medical researchers seek to mend broken hearts.

Paul Browne

1)      Smith RR, Barile L, Cho HC, Leppo MK, Hare JM, Messina E, Giacomello A, Abraham MR, Marbán E. “Regenerative potential of cardiosphere-derived cells expanded from percutaneous endomyocardial biopsy specimens.” Circulation. 2007 Feb 20;115(7):896-908. PubMed: 17283259

2)      Johnston PV, Sasano T, Mills K, Evers R, Lee ST, Smith RR, Lardo AC, Lai S, Steenbergen C, Gerstenblith G, Lange R, Marbán E. “Engraftment, differentiation, and functional benefits of autologous cardiosphere-derived cells in porcine ischemic cardiomyopathy.” Circulation. 2009 Sep 22;120(12):1075-83. PubMed:19738142

3)      Messina E, De Angelis L, Frati G, Morrone S, Chimenti S, Fiordaliso F, Salio M, Battaglia M, Latronico MV, Coletta M, Vivarelli E, Frati L, Cossu G, Giacomello A.”Isolation and expansion of adult cardiac stem cells from human and murine heart.” Circ Res. 2004 Oct 29;95(9):911-21. PubMed:15472116

A welcome end to random-source dog and cat dealers

The National Institutes of Health has announced that starting October 1, 2012, NIH funds may no longer be used to buy cats from Class B dealers. A similar prohibition in the purchase of dogs from Class B dealers takes effect in 2015.

Although dogs and cats constitute only small percentage of research animals, they have been used in American biomedical research for over a century for studies of cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and for other areas of research including recent studies that led to a gene therapy for the eye disease Leber’s congenital amaurosis, whose success was reported widely last week.  The use of these animals is tightly regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, and they are only employed for studies where lower species do not provide adequate models.

Class B dealers are individuals licensed by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act to resell animals they did not breed themselves. Class A dealers are breeders who do raise the animals themselves. Class B dealers may purchase dogs and cats from sources such as municipal pounds, from individuals who bred and raised the animals, and from other licensed dealers. They are required to keep records on where they got each animal and to hold pound animals for a minimum period so that if an unwanted animal was actually a stray, the owner has time to reclaim it.

Animal statistics in 2010 (US data) - Dogs account of 0.25% and cats 0.08% of the total number of animals used.

Class B dealers used to provide a large number of cats and dogs for research because they were virtually the only source for older animals and for some breeds. Regrettably, some Class B dealers used practices that violated the Animal Welfare Act both in terms of how they acquired animals and how they treated them.  The National Academies of Science studied the specific areas of science where Class B dogs and cats were being used and concluded that NIH could develop alternate supply mechanisms to replace them. NIH decided the best way to facilitate the transition was to provide an initial outlay of funds so that Class A dealers could begin raising older dogs of the breeds required for scientific research. It is expected that these breeders will be able to produce the necessary animals by 2015.

After October 1, 2012, NIH-grant supported research can only use cats from the following sources: Class A dealers, privately owned research colonies, or client owned animals, such as animals that participate in veterinary clinical trials.  The same policy will apply to dogs in 2015 when the Class A breeding program is in full swing.

The transition of NIH-funded research away from the use of Class B dogs and cats is an example of how measures can be taken to correct ethical problems regarding the treatment of animals.  When ethical concerns exist, thoughtful and deliberate steps can address those concerns, while preserving important biomedical research projects.

Bill Yates and Alice Ra’anan.

Bill Yates is the Chair of American Physiological Society Animal Care and Experimentation Committee. Alice Ra’anan is Director of Science Policy for the American Physiological Society. The views expressed above are exclusively those of Bill Yates and Alice Ra’anan and do not necessarily represent those of their employers.

Animal rights campaigns: When free speech takes a hideous turn

An important principle of American democracy is that the free exchange of ideas is crucial to social progress. We accept that protected speech can be often be ugly, provoke social unrest and include acts of civil disobedience. Yet, as far as possible, we must ensure that people are free to express their ideas – this cannot happen when individuals on one side of the debate are harassed and threatened. We’ve seen this happen in the abortion debate. Now, we see it unfold in the animal rights debate.

Organized harassment, intimidation, threats and firebombs directed at individuals involved in biomedical research involving animals, as well as other animal-related industries, and their families, are neither uncommon, nor are they protected forms of free speech.  While these are the tactics are used by a relatively small group of animal rights extremists who work under the motto — “animal liberation by all means necessary”, the escalation of violence from radical elements of the movement has been fueled in recent years by a larger group of activists who sit by the sidelines celebrating these criminal acts and inciting individuals to more violence. There is an even larger majority which appears at least to silently approve.  Only a disappointingly tiny group of animal rights philosophers and organizations have been vocal in condemning the violence from the fringes of the animal rights movement.

Some of the activists have taken to the internet in order to publish the addresses of their “targets” along with carefully worded incitements to violence; others have initiated campaigns of hate against their victims; yet others have shown up outside the targets’ front doors at night, wearing ski-masks, and frightening children inside with chants like “we know where you sleep”. This is, in good part, the free speech so many activists want to defend.

Protesters scream outside a researcher's home, routinely harassing the entire neighborhood

The behavior of animal rights extremists parallels that of radical, anti-abortion groups that targeted physicians who provided abortions to women who needed or requested them.  To seek a remedy to the escalating violence from these groups, President Bill Clinton passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, that prohibits trespassing, vandalism, threats of violence, stalking, arson and bombings directed at reproductive health care clinics or their personnel.  The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act simply attempts to control the criminal acts of animal rights extremists in a similar fashion.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) contains a clause indicating that nothing within it should be construed to “prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”  It is clear that only illegal conduct that is not covered under the First Amendment can be construed as violating the Act. Animal activists and advocates willing to express their views and educate the public regarding them can do so freely.

It is those that support campaigns of intimidation, threats and hatred that want to challenge it. It is those that want to use their speech to frighten and torment into submission others that dislike the enhanced punishments. It is those that want to enforce their views on society by force (which defines terrorism) that want it struck down.

We applaud Senator Feinstein for her stance in supporting legislation whose only goal is to respond to terrorist activities of a few and allow the rest of society to hold a civil debate on these the moral relationship between humans and non-human animals.


David Jentsch and Dario Ringach

Pop Quiz!

Take out a piece of paper and a sharpened #2 pencil.

Please read carefully the following story and answer all the questions.

You have 15 min.

One Saturday morning Dr. X was walking her dog thinking about some recent results in her field when it dawned on her that she might actually have the key to explaining all those findings.  If she was correct, she could go on to develop a new therapy for a terrible disease.

Being a scientist, Dr. X rapidly turned that idea into a specific hypothesis with testable predictions.  She ran back to her laboratory, gathered her students, told them the idea, and got to work.  They were excited when their first test (T1) yielded a positive result.  This simply meant that the implications of her hypothesis were corroborated by the experiment.  Good job everyone!

The next day her students were up all night running the second test (T2).  Dr. X arrived at the laboratory after dropping her kids in school to find very tired students, but with big smiles on their faces.  The second test, she correctly guessed, gave them another positive result.  Hurrah!

That night, at the dinner table, she shared the excitement with her family. Even the dog appeared to notice something important was going on. Next morning, one of her postdoctoral students came up with, what appeared to be, a direct test of the central idea.  It was agreed at the Lab meeting that this would be the next experiment (T3).

It was a difficult experiment.  Dr. X’s husband agreed to pick up the kids instead and let her finish her work.  Close to midnight the results came in.  Everyone in the lab ran to see the results.   They stared at each other in disappointment.  The result was clearly negative — what this meant is that the outcome contradicted a key prediction of the hypothesis.

Dr. X’s Lab had a difficult month.  They went over the data over and over again — nothing was obviously wrong; but they decided not to give up.  Instead, they brainstormed about how they could come up with a new hypothesis that may explain the data they had collected so far.  And yes, Dr. X explained, this must include a reason for the outcome of the negative experiment as well.

One night, Dr. X was awoken by the sound of the phone. She was startled, it was unusual that anyone would call at 3 am to her home. Understandably, Dr. X answered the phone with some apprehension.  She was relieved to hear one of her students, which after calming himself down and apologizing for the time, described to her a new idea that, he said, came to him out of nowhere in the middle of his sleep.  She grumbles, but listened…  her sleepy eyes slowly widening as the student went on.  When he was done Dr. X immediately knew that there was no doubt her student could explain the diverse findings.

Everyone gathered in the laboratory next morning and started to test again based on the new concept over the week.  T4… positive!  T5….positive!  T6… negative…  Negative?!  Oh no…  Again?!

Yes, again.  But Dr. X gathered her students and explain to them that this is how science works.  New ideas emerge from old ones in an effort to account for all the data their community gathered so far.  And that negative findings were important for science too. They all felt a bit better as they went home… just a little bit.  But more than Dr. X’s words, it was a group feeling that they were getting closer to the truth.

It took her Lab a few more iterations of this difficult game called science, but one day they knew they had nailed it.  They had a new idea that not only explained all past results but stood many additional tests, including replications by her colleagues.  Their work delivered a medical breakthrough that allowed them to develop a new medical treatment that saved uncountable human lives.


Assume that in this story, from beginning to end, including her experiments those of her colleagues, scientists performed 20 experimental tests that yielded positive results, 15 experimental tests that yielded negative results, and that each test required the use of exactly one mouse.

Q1. How many mice were scientifically necessary to develop this medical breakthrough?

Q2. Which experimental tests were more important in developing this breakthrough?  The tests yielding positive results or the ones yielding negative results?  Explain.

Q3. Given the end result was that uncountable human lives are being saved.  Which test was morally justifiable and which was not?  Were positive tests in any way more justifiable than negative ones?  Were experiments used in replicating Dr. X’s findings necessary and justified?  Or is it only the final experiment directly preceding the development of the new therapy that was justified?

Q4. Five years after her discovery, and with the new knowledge acquired, one of Dr. X’s colleagues comments that it was obvious some of the ideas she had tried could not have worked.  With 20/20 vision, Dr. X agrees.  Does her admission mean the experiments testing those ideas were scientifically unnecessary or ethically indefensible?

Submit your answers in the comments section below!