STOP lying about research at the University of British Columbia

In a post a couple of weeks ago entitled “End of primate research at the University of Toronto?” Allyson Bennet wrote about the truth behind the spin that primate research has ceased at the University of Toronto (UT), commenting that:

 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.”

It hasn’t taken very long for other animal rights groups in Canada to pick up on UT’s perceived change of policy, with a Vancouver-based group named STOP UBC Animal Research (STOP) quick to demand that the University of British Columbia (UBC) follow UT’s example.

For more than a year now STOP have been engaged in a high-profile campaign against animal research at UBC, prompting UPC to respond by providing information about the animal research they undertake. One of their main targets has been Professor Doris Doudet, who employs advanced imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) for the evaluation of functional, neurochemical, and anatomical changes in the brains of animal models of Parkinson’s disease.

In a paper published online last November in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism Professor Doudet and her colleagues reported that they had used PET to confirm that abnormal metabolic patterns recently observed in the brains of Parkinson’s disease patients are also found in the brains of monkeys which have been treated with the drug MPTP to kill the dopamine producing neurons in the brain and induce Parkinsonism. This result both confirmed the close similarity between MPTP-induced Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease, and provides another useful way in which the effects of candidate therapies for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease can be evaluated in this much-used animal model of Parkinson’s disease.

Unfortunately in the course of the experiment four of the eleven monkeys treated with MPTP developed an unusually severe response, and rather than recovering after the experiment – as is usually the case with monkeys treated with MPTP – they had to be euthanized. The Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and metabolism paper makes it clear that Prof. Doudet and her team responded quickly and correctly to the unexpected situation to minimize any suffering the animal’s experienced.

Not surprisingly STOP are seeking to make capital out of this event…but this is where animal rights propaganda parts company with the facts.

In a statement to the UBC student newspaper Ubyssey STOP claim that far from being accidental the four monkey deaths were planned:

a 2010 progress report on Doudet’s study indicated four monkeys were to be “sacrificed to neuropathology”—two at the six-month mark after showing mild symptoms of Parkinson’s, and the final two after twelve months.

“Animals should be able to recover from the Parkinsonism that researchers inflict on them,” Birthistle said. “She’s intending to kill them all along, and then they’re talking about it as being unforeseen circumstances.””

So what is this “2010 progress report? Well, another statement by STOP quoted in a Vancouver newspaper explains that they are referring to a study named “L91”.

So what is L91 all about?

It’s not the first time that STOP have complained about study L91, back in January of last year they staged a protest against it. L91 is a project planned by Prof. Doudet to use PET to study the effect of injection of the proteasome-inhibitor Lactacystin on the brain function of four macaques, and a description of the proposed project can be found on page 25 of this TRIUMF publication. Lactacystin injection is a relatively new animal model of Parkinson’s disease, recreating the damage to the proteasomes of the dopamine secreting neurons of the substantia nigra region of the brain observed in Parkinson’s disease patients, and has the potential to become a valuable resource for evaluation new therapies.

So it’s abundantly clear that the proposed study L91 is NOT the same as the study published last November in the The Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, as the former plans to use lactacystin to induce Parkinsonism while the latter used MPTP. It is equally clear that STOP are well aware that these are not the same study, as they have access to all the relevant documents.

Yet, not only to STOP repeatedly and dishonestly claim that these are the same study, but on the basis of this claim they go on to make false allegations of professional misconduct against Prof. Doudet and demand that UBC suspend her from her duties and carry out a full investigation.

And I’ll bet that they will express surprise and outrage when UBC refuses to comply with their demands!

Before leaving this subject it’s worth addressing the importance of the role of animal research in Parkinson’s disease research, something that we are well aware of thanks to Pro-Test’s own Prof. Tipu Aziz, whose research using the MPTP model of Parkinsonism made major contributions to making deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease the success it is today.  I’ll value the views of the neuroscience community as a whole – including great neuroscientists such as the physician-scientist Prof. Alim-Louis Benabid, pioneer of DBS for Parkinson’s disease – over those of the few fringe scientists that STOP can scrape together.  Prof. Benabid and other genuine experts on Parkinson’s disease recognize that while Parkinsonism models such as the MPTP monkey do not recreate every aspect of Parkinson’s disease they play a vital role alongside clinical research in uncovering the process that cause the disease and its symptoms, and in the development of new therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

As Prof. Benabid wrote in a review in 2004:

The knowledge of the functional changes of basal ganglia activity in the parkinsonian state as it emerged from extensive experimental studies on animal models has provided the theoretical basis for surgical therapy in PD. The 6-hydroxydopamine (6-ODHA) rat model and the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) primate model of PD provided powerful research tools for uncovering the pathophysiology of changes in functional basal ganglia activity in PD. “

and in a review published this year

The specific effect of DBS at high frequency, discovered during a VIM thalamotomy, was extended to the older targets of ablative neurosurgery such as the pallidum, for tremor in Parkinson’s disease (PD), dyskinesias, essential tremor, as well as the internal capsule to treat psychiatric disorders (OCD). A second wave of targets came from basic research (in this instance animal research –PB), enabled by the low morbidity, reversibility, and adaptability of DBS. This was the case for the subthalamic nucleus (STN) which improves the triad of dopaminergic symptoms, and the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) for gait disorders in PD. “

As with so many areas on medicine it is the confluence of animal and clinical researhc that is driving advances in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Rather ironically animal rights organizations like STOP and their supporters are very quick to claim that Prof. Benabid’s serendipitous discovery that electrical stimulation of the ventralis intermedius could reduce the tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease demonstrates that research using the MPTP model is unnecessary. They seek to co-opt his stature as a leading neuroscientist while simultaneously ignoring the fact that he not only recognizes the importance of animal models of Parkinson’s disease but himself undertakes studies with the MPTP Monkey model and other animal models of Parkinson’s disease.

So, the question is who you are going to believe, leading neuroscientists like Prof. Doudet and Prof. Benabid, or STOP? Somehow I doubt it will take you long to come to a decision!

Paul Browne

33 responses to “STOP lying about research at the University of British Columbia

  1. I have been debating Dr. Greek for over a year on OpposingViews and here. I have also published an article responding to his claims and that of others. The public has access to all the necessary material needed to make an informed decision. If you and Dr. Greek do not like this format of debating then you don’t have to participate. Nobody is forcing you.

  2. Dr. Greek would be absolutely willing to debate you. He has expressed as much in our correspondence. Please name the day and place and we will make arrangements at this end.

  3. Stupid lout. Pointless any further talk.

  4. You misunderstand: public already decided — that’s the reason the research is taking place today.

    Now, if you want to explain the public why it should stop the research you ought to present convincing arguments. Be my guest and fly Dr. Greek to Canada if you think he can help make your point. Obviously, you can’t.

  5. It’s so good to hear the truth from Dr. Greek. Dr. Greek’s books and other writings and website – – are an invaluable boon to the public. Projections of more and more diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, etc., indicate that no one really believes in biomedical research anymore.

    An open debate at UBC would enable Dr. Dario Ringach, Prof. Doucet and friends to once and for all demolish their critics in a public forum. STOP is asking for it! Perhaps, as Dr. Greek knows from experience, they haven’t the stomach for debate and won’t show up, because they KNOW they’re wrong and no match for such antivivisectionist physicians as STOP can muster.

    Let the public decide who’s benefiting humanity and who’s only pretending to do so.

  6. Dr. Greek responds to criticism leveled earlier in this debate – this is from his blog on Opposing Views:

    Speaking of Research is a vivisection activist website that publishes the usual propaganda via essays and blogs. An article titled STOP lying about research at the University of British Columbia, authored by Paul Browne appeared March 6, and addressed the activities of the group “STOP UBC Animal Research.” STOP UBC Animal Research has been protesting against research conducted by Dr Doris Doudet, which involves monkey models of Parkinson’s disease. The article claims that this research can predict human response to Parkinson’s drugs, in part, because a finding on PET scan was similar in humans and monkeys. The article generated numerous comments by, among others, Dr Dario Ringach. Dr Ringach and Mr Browne both attribute the discovery of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for PD to animal models specifically the MPTP-monkey model. They also condemned the position of AFMA and myself. The rest of the article as well as comments by Ringach and Browne employed the usual fallacies including straw man arguments and appeal to authority that are routinely seen in such diatribes.

    I will address four issues the article and comments raise.

    1. Character. On February 16, 2010 a panel discussion regarding the use of animals in research was held on the campus of UCLA. The video is available here. The panel discussion was supposed to be a prelude to a debate on the predictive value of animal models between Drs Ringach and or Jentsch and myself. I would not agree to participate in the panel discussion without the promise of a debate and Drs Ringach and Jentsch wanted the panel discussion. Panel discussions do not allow for the time or back and forth that is necessary to prove beyond a doubt that one party is not being truthful. Debates work well for that. Suffice it to say that after the panel discussion Ringach and Jentsch reneged on the agreement. For more on the fact that Drs Ringach and Jentsch backed out of the agreement, see comments by the co-organizers of the event (along with Drs Ringach and Jentsch) Jill Ryther and Kristy from Bruins for Animals (see here, here and here). The modus operandi of vivisection activists like Drs Ringach and Jentsch continues to manifest itself when, on numerous occasions, I have asked them to debate this issue in the scientific literature and or public venues like UCLA and they have refused. In technical scientific issues like the use of animal models, many in society cannot be expected to follow the details of the controversy. But everyone can appreciate that when the people who make money from an endeavor agree to participate in a debate then renege and refuse to justify their activities, there is something amiss. In this case, the money comes from taxpayers, the recipients are scientists who are accustomed to presenting and defending their research in the scientific literature, and these scientists are specifically refusing to defend their use of taxpayer money in that same scientific literature. They have also refused to participate in any kind of debate in any public venues such as at UCLA or other universities. That speaks for itself. In scientific circles, ceteris paribus, the issue would be settled. But there is more.

    In the panel discussion, I jokingly said that MD stands for “medical deity.” I was being self-deprecatory as the story I was telling showed me to be the person that was wrong. My relevant comments can be found starting at 50 minutes and 30 seconds in the video and continue until 54 minutes 30 seconds in the video of the panel discussion. The audience understood the joke and laughed as can be easily heard on the video. Yet, Dr Ringach continues to claim that I was serious in that comment, stating: “. . . this ‘medical deity’ — as he likes to call himself.” (Also see here, bottom of the comments.) When someone accuses another of making an outrageous claim that the person clearly did not make, and the accusation is easily refuted on a video made by the accuser himself, and the accuser does this repeatedly, one really must question the character of the accuser. Negative ads work, unfortunately, but one can hardly claim the moral high ground when one resorts to these tactics. The facts are not in doubt in this case. This is not a “he said she said” type of dispute. The video is clear. (Moreover, I tell this same story almost every time I speak so it is on numerous other videos, complete with the audience laughing.) Dr Ringach is clearly trying to attack character because he has no facts to support his position and justify his research using taxpayer money. Would you purposefully lie about something like this when you had the facts on your side?

    But people do lie like this everyday when a vested interest is threatened. They even hire people to lie for them. Companies exist to lie for large corporations and other well-healed clients and they employ, or are composed of, scientists. This is simply the state of affairs in our world and we all know it (see here and here). This illustration alone should be enough to convince any reasonable person that Dr Ringach has an agenda and will stoop to very low levels indeed to see that his goal of continuing to be able to use taxpayer money to fund his job is realized.

    I said above that, ceteris paribus, the refusal by a scientist to defend his position in the scientific literature should be enough to convince other scientists of the insincerity of that individual. However, as we all know, all other things are almost never equal. Scientists that are employed by universities come under immense pressure not to denigrate other scientists that are bringing in millions of dollars to the university. I have discussed this before (see here, here, and here). This extends to the funding process at NIH and other institutions as well as who is allowed to publish in the scientific literature. Recently Dr Ringach published an attack on my position in a well-established medical journal called The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. (The article can be viewed here.) I was denied equal space and was allowed a short letter to the editor instead (which can be viewed here). This is Dr Ringach’s idea of debate. (For more, see here.)

    2. Fallacies. As vivisection activists have no facts to deny my claim that animal models have a very low positive and negative predictive value for human response to drugs and disease they utilize fallacies and other forms of nonsense. The Browne article and comments are a classic example of this. Claiming that I think of myself as a deity is an example of the ad hominem attack but there are many more fallacies routinely used by Browne and Ringach. Another example of the improper use of logic, used by both, is the argument from authority, which, since I have covered in Argument From Authority. Part I, Part II and Part III, I will address but briefly here.

    Vivisection activists frequently cite other vivisection activists as authorities that agree with them that animal use in research is necessary for medical science to advance. There are numerous polls and surveys that, to the first approximation, appear to substantiate their claim. See previous links for more on the polls. The appeal to authority is offered when one has few facts to support one’s case and therefore instead says basically: “all the cool people agree with me so you are wrong.” Now, authorities did not become authorities because they were stupid so we would do well to at least consider what they have to say. But authorities have been notoriously wrong on many occasions and when money is involved authority is especially suspect. Many scientific authorities continue to advocate that smoking does not cause disease, that the world is around 6000 years old, that vaccines are dangerous, and that global warming is not happening. In the final analysis we need more than someone’s word on controversial issues. We must think for ourselves and learn how to think if we are not already good at critical thinking. The argument from authority is not evidence in the scientific sense of the word. Appeals to authority are a weapon of the weak.

    3. Tit for Tat. In the article and comments, Browne and Ringach discuss with various people the technicalities of the Doudet experiments. Without reading the protocols and papers it is difficult to say who is technically correct on the various issues under discussion. Moreover, it is irrelevant. A perusal of Dr Doudet’s publications clearly reveals the claim, in some cases implied, that her research is being performed in order to predict human response to drugs and disease. I do not have access to her grant proposals but would wager that the language contained therein would substantiate my claim even further. This is the usual way grants are obtained and is one reason why the process is fraudulent. Instead of going through her protocols and publications line by line looking for what exactly she did do and what she did not do, or say, in this or that case, I will address the general problem of research such as Doudet’s.

    4. The Prediction Problem. Animal models are simply not predictive for human response to drugs and disease. This is what I have addressed many times and what vivisection activists refuse to debate in the scientific literature or in person at universities. Their reason is simple and straightforward: they would lose! There is enough empirical data to conclusively show that animal models are not predictive for humans in terms of response to drugs and disease. But perhaps more importantly, the Theory of Evolution along with complexity theory explain why the data is what it is and why one living evolved complex system/species is never going to be a predictive modality for drug and disease response in another. Intra-species prediction is almost impossible in most cases and the problems that one encounters for intra-species prediction are multiplied exponentially for inter-species prediction. I have covered this many times in this blog and in the scientific literature. (See for example, Are animal models predictive for humans? and Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable? and The History and Implications of Testing Thalidomide on Animals and Animal models in an age of personalized medicine .) So the vested interest groups are not going to get on stage and argue their position with me nor are they going to do so in the scientific literature. Ever heard of the tobacco scientists participating in a debate on the merits of smoking? How about the scientists representing the asbestos industry? Now compare that to scientists who have been challenged on the validity of evolution or the myth of alternative medicine. They participate in debates all the time. When someone has the facts on his side, he is usually very willing to present those facts in public. Those without facts and that are instead relying on subterfuge avoid the spotlight. The people that do not want to discuss their position (soliloquies in the literature are not debates or discussions) are usually the ones that have something to hide and something to lose (money, prestige, etc).

    This point is easy to prove. I will ask the University of British Columbia group STOP UBC Animal Research to contact Dr Doudet regarding a debate with me on the topic of the predictability of animal models in drug and disease research. She can cite her own research in support of her claim. I do not know anywhere close to as much about her research as she does, so she should be able to overwhelm me with data that shows her research is indeed predictive for humans, is leading to cures and treatments, and that such research in general is predictive and therefore vital. The debate can take place at the University of British Columbia complete with their security and all the measures they deem necessary to protect Dr Doudet. I will gladly allow her to have on her team Drs Ringach and Jentsch and London and Gorski and whomever else she wishes to have. Surely all of them combined can falsify my position that animal models are not predictive modalities. Hopefully we can also address the ubiquitous claim that monkey models were necessary for the development of DBS.

    • I am sorry… I don’t read his rants any more. I don’t have time for nonsense. But, if you are really interested in Parkinson’s I just posted one item here:

      • It’s a sure bet you won’t show up to debate the doctors and risk your parasitical existence at the University.

        The public has been fed a lot of drug industry propaganda about the utility of animal torture. Their ignorance is excusable, yours isn’t.

    • Dr Greek’s comments are as usual a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, as I wrote in an earlier comment Greek’s claims have a tendency to fall apart upon closer examination, and comparison with the factual record.

      Greek point about sceintists being willing to engage in debates about evolution is an interesting one, because while many scientists have been willing to give talks about evolution, write articles for newspapers etc. only a few are prepared to actually engage in live debates with creationists, because contrary to Greek’s claim that “When someone has the facts on his side, he is usually very willing to present those facts in public” scientists know that this format often perversly favours the anti-scientist. Even PZ Myers, a scientist known for his unusual willingness to debate creationists, has written several times on how he finds himself constantly at a disadvantage as cranks resort to tactics such as the Gish Gallop. The scientist is forced to spend their whole time responding to claims made by their opponant rather than making their own points – and responding to a lie invariably takes a lot longer than stating the original lie took.

      It’s not for mnothing that “don’t debate denialists” has become something of a catchprase in the scientific community.

      Given the reluctance of evolutionary biologists – who after all don’t face the same threat of “direct action” by their opponants that medical researchers do – to engage in live debate with creationists, is it really any wonder that animal researchers are reluctant to engage in live debate with the cranks who target their field?

  7. Paul, Darioringach
    You both need to enrol in a course on logic. Good grief!!


    One of the most persistent dogmas put out by the pharmaceutical industry is that the increase in the human lifespan is due to medical intervention, drugs, antibiotics and vaccines rather than to social reforms. It was not the introduction of any specific therapy that raised life-expectancy in the Western world but rather the introduction – or re-introduction – of hygienic and sanitary measures, of the sewer system and clean water in the cities (eliminating sources of contagion and infection), as well as better nutrition and housing – all beginning half a century before large-scale vaccination was adopted.

    Equally, the inadvertent damage to human health that has been caused by animal experimentation is little known. Experimenters receive billions of tax and charity dollars to conduct experiments that leading scientists say only serve to hinder and prevent medical progress. Anti-vivisectionist doctors, surgeons and scientists have long denounced animal studies as scientifically invalid – but so far with precious little result.
    In his book, Medical Nemesis, Ivan Illich pointed out that to promote just one drug, Valium, Hoffmann-La Roche spent $200 million in 10 years and commissioned 200 doctors a year to produce scientific articles about its properties.

    This kind of activity is common practice in the pharmaceutical community and explains why many people keep spending money to buy pills which might kill them. According to the all-wise Food and Drug Administration of the United States, and the New York Times which often prints as scoops what CIVIS wrote decades ago, more than 100,000 people a year die in American hospitals from adverse reactions to medication, making drug reaction one of the leading causes of death in the US. We are still hoping to see some day the “scoop” in the N. Y. Times that the medical pundits have at last discovered the reason for this mass killing. The reason is vivisection, of course, aka animal experimentation, and it can be explained by the simple fact that animals react differently from people, except perhaps on the emotional realm.

    But the truth about vivisection is regularly suppressed by the media, because the practice has a financial and political monopoly. The rare times a media event against vivisection on scientific grounds is set up to inform the public of the massive damage to human health resulting from animal experimentation, the media willing to report it request the participation of some “scientists” (read vivisectors), in the name of “balance” and “fairness” and in order to show “both sides of the issue.” But this journalistic zeal is totally absent whenever the media advertise “breakthroughs” due to animal experimentation. Statements made by conformist scientists are never challenged by editors or reporters, no matter how absurd they may be.

    • Wrong again! The CDC report attributes a lot of the improvement in lifespan to improved medical treatment, notably the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and improvement in the treatment of heart disease in the past 30 years.

      Improvements in sanitation/public health did of course also have major impact on mortality, but the most dramatic impact of that came before the period reviewed in this study.

      Of course now that people are living longer we are seeing an increase in deaths associated with older populations, notably Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many cancers.

  8. Meanwhile in the real world life spans have increased massively in the US over the past few decades, with improvements in medicine – most developed through animal research – making a major contribution to the increase.

  9. How many lives has Doudet actually saved by means of her monkey sacrifices?

    Some of us smell a mouse, considering eminent doctors contest the present-day orthodoxy and medical fad. For instance, Dr. L. Goldberg, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Quantitative Method in Human Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Pergamon Press, London, 1959: “There really exists no logical basis for translating the results of animal experiments to man.”

    When numerous doctors ( state that animal eperiments are redundant, unnecessary and usually misleading, hence DANGEROUS, why would laymen prefer to believe that they ARE necessary — contrary to logic, and contrary to normal human sentiment (since they involve torture)? Furthermore, we are told that animal experiments lead only to human experimentation without preventing it, as promised by animal researchers. Animal studies are sterile cruelties that only spread disease through iatrogenic error. It is frightening to contemplate that our health and well-being rests in the hands of these grant-hungry charlatans. That is why Ivan Illich declared the medical establishment “a major threat to health …as a result of the medicalization of life and the development of medical iatrogenesis (illness caused by doctors).” – Ivan Illich, 1975. Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health.

    Animal research is obviously confounding clinical medicine, considering that it is bankrupting the country as we get sicker and sicker, according to the stats.

    Animal research is “a cult of the most frightening indifference to suffering and death” that leads inevitably to human eperimentation. A vivisector and professor at the University of Wyoming, E.E. Slosson, once coldly declared: “A human life is nothing compared with a new fact. The aim of Science is the advancement of human knowledge at any sacrifice of human life. If cats and guinnea-pigs can be put to any better use than to advance science, we do not know of what it is. We don’t know of any higher use we can put man to.” (From “The Independent”, New York, 12 December 1895.) Read about the horrors… here:

    • Numerous? 1000 doctors is a tiny percentage of their population. One can probably find 1000 life scientists that believe in evolution as well. I doubt you would then conclude evolution is wrong. Would you?

      I believe in animal activists are well-intentioned, but their reluctance to accept the scientific consensus and, instead, blindly accept the twisted facts and half-truths of animal rights pseudo-scientists is rather amazing.

      • I think there’s a typo in your comment Dario, it should read “One can probably find 1000 life scientists that don’t believe in evolution as well. I doubt you would then conclude evolution is wrong. Would you?”

        It’s a good point though, and you could easliy substitute “benefits of vaccination” of “Global warming” for “evolution” or “animal research”, different agenda’s, but the same tactics.

      • Yes, sorry… that DON’T believe in evolution…

  10. Merritt, it is absolutely clear that the MPTP and L91 studies are different. It is possible that at some point some of the control – not MPTP treated – macaques from the MPTP study maybe used in L91, but to use MPTP treated monkeys in L91 – as STOP are alleging -would be entirely pointless. There data would be uninterpretable and unpublishable, and quite apart from the ethical and regulatory implications Professor Doudet is far too good a scientist to waste her time on this. If STOP’s scientific advisers were any good they would have pointed this out to them.

    STOP have made this allegation without producing any evidence to support it, if they have it they should produce it!

    While I prefer to see one substantial publication for any project – I heartily dislike the practice of breaking up the data into multiple smaller publications unless there’s a good reason for doing so- there are cases where it is unavoidable due to the necessity for longer term monitoring and need to carry out multiple analysis on the data collected. It is sometimes necessary to publish the data in a series of papers to avoid confusion in the published data and analysis. In my experience this is most usually the case for clinical and epidemiological research in human subjects – but it also applies to some animal studies, particularly in the field of neuroscience.

    Not sure what patents have to do with this, I can readily understand how a project could yield several patents covering different aspects of the techniques and technologies developed. Just like Dyson Ltd. claim to have over a thousanf different patents, but certainly have not developed a thousand different vacuum cleaners.

  11. Paul Browne posted:
    “So it’s abundantly clear that the proposed study L91 is NOT the same as the study published last November in the The Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and equally clear that STOP are well aware that these are not the same study, as they have access to all the relevant documents.”

    Actually it is not clear at all, and may not be true at all, either. Those of us who have routinely reported about science over the years are mostly aware that scientists often construct multiple “experiments” and write multiple papers about different aspects of a single exercise.
    The late Robert White, for example, published new papers until 1997 that were based on his head transplant experiments, conducted in 1963-1968. His continued production of new papers caused considerable misunderstanding that he was continuing to do the experiments, using new macaques after he had already beheaded about thirty.
    It is extremely common for scientists to propose a variety of experiments and procedures in advance of conducting a single exercise, in pursuit of funding, and to propose even more as the exercise is underway and more possible experiments occur to them. I am aware, for instance, of one orthopedic inventor who holds more than 900 patents on instruments, operative procedures, and medical devices. These are not the products of more than 900 separate exercises.
    It is not at all uncommon for scientists to propose one set of experiments to do if an exercise goes as planned, and another to do if something goes awry — for example, if an animal subject unexpectedly dies.
    For the studies that STOP is protesting to be genuinely different from the study L91 would require that L91 be using an entirely different set of animals.
    Paul Browne has not posted anything that makes that case. But even if Browne has that evidence, it would scarcely be laudable that Doris Daudet is killing twice as many monkeys.

    • Not sure what you mean by Robert White publishing papers based on his head transplantation experiments. He did publish a handful of reviews, commentaries and editorials on the subject of brain transplantation (among many others on the broader subject of transplantation), as you’d expect for a senior scientist with experience in the field, an example being this 1996 review, but I don’t see any new papers reporting original scientific results from this work after the original publications in the period 1969-1971.

  12. A quick look at the STOP web site suggests this is an organization that opposes the work based on the “faulty science” argument (that is, “the science does not work anyway… so we shouldn’t do it”) and the never-ending attempts from animal rights activists to rewrite medical history books to deny the benefits of animal research for human kind.

    This argument is extremely unlikely to work. Scientific consensus on this matter is clear cut — as per a recent Nature poll nearly 92% of scientist agree the work is necessary to advance medical science and human health. A large number of scientific organizations, including medical associations, have formal statements in support of the work as well.

    STOP could benefit from some intellectual honesty in this debate and state they obvious — that they are morally opposed to the all animal research under all circumstances, no matter what the benefits might be.

    • If you were to take more than a quick look at the Stop website and in fact explored its Safer Medicines faq pages, you would become acquainted with the opinions of 1000’s of forward-looking scientists and medical professionals worldwide – that animal research is hazardous to human health. You are welcome to take an open-minded look, and then perhaps we can all bring some intellectual honesty to this debate.

      • I am open-minded. I am familiar with these arguments, that’s why a quick look is sufficient. There is ample scientific consensus both from bio-medical researchers and physician organizations, such as the American Medical Association that the work is a critical part of advancing medical knowledge and health.

      • Let me ask — are any conditions under which your organization views the use of animals in scientific research as acceptable?

        • No. Vivisection should be abolished immediately on scientific grounds.
          “I know of no achievement, no scientific breakthrough, that could not have been achieved without such barbarism and cruelty.”
          Dr. Charles Mayo in
          New York Daily News, 3/21/64

      • Charles Mayo may have been a great clinician, but he was very wrong about animal research.

        Fortunately his modern successors at the Mayo clinic are fully aware of the value of both animal and clinical research

      • @Anne,

        You may be able to find a handful of uneducated physicians that got through medical school without truly learning where the knowledge from the books comes from. We noted this,,,,, and we are addressing the issue in our medical school curricula to make sure it does not happen again.

        There is more scientific consensus about the need for animal research in medicine (92%), than the notion that humans evolved from lower species (87%), or that global warming is caused by human activity (84%). It is difficult to find any other issue where the consensus among scientists is so strong.

        So you are as wrong as you can be on the science, and clearly unable or unwilling to articulate an ethical objection, as there is none in the STOP web-site.

        • Anne Birthistle

          Respectfully, I encourage you to read this excerpt from the preface written by Jane Goodall, Ph.D. to the book Sacred Cows and Golden Geese:

          What if it can be shown that the use of animals, in very many instances, provides
          misleading results? How often are potentially healing drugs withheld from humans because they harm
          animals? By contrast, how often are drugs that do not harm animals used on humans with disastrous
          We dedicate vast amounts of research energy and research dollars to inflicting human-like diseases on
          animals and seeking ways to treat them. Scientists use the data this generates to write papers in order
          to get new grants. What is less generally realized, unless one carefully follows the scientific journals,
          is how seldom these animal “breakthroughs” are useful in curing the “real” diseases in their human
          And why is this? Although in many ways animals show physiological similarities to humans, they are
          different. Even chimpanzees, with immune systems so like ours, do not respond as humans do to a
          variety of diseases. Of all the hundreds of chimpanzees that have been infected with the human HIV
          retrovirus, for example, none have developed the typical symptoms of human AIDS. (Even in the
          two – yes, only two – who apparently died of AIDS, the course of the disease was very different.) Yet
          millions of dollars have gone into AIDS research using chimpanzees as (very inappropriate) models.
          Millions and millions more dollars have been used to infect animals even less like us.
          Of course, thousands of people comprise the vast animal experimentation industry – the
          manufacturers and salesmen for cages, animal food, lab equipment paraphernalia, and specially bred
          genetic lines of experimental animals, the animal care staff, and all the scientists themselves. They
          would be out of a job if the animal research carpet were pulled from under their feet. All these people
          are, for obvious reasons, very anxious to preserve the status quo. This, presumably, is why those who
          are searching for alternatives to the use of live animals in experimentation so often get the cold
          shoulder from the scientific establishment. This is why there are no Nobel Prizes for alternative
          techniques. And this is why it is so much harder to get a new non-animal procedure approved than a
          new procedure involving animals.
          I have a growing conviction that many animal data are not only obtained unethically, at huge cost in
          animal suffering, but are also unscientific, misleading, wasteful (in terms of dollars and effort) and
          may be actually harmful to humans. I constantly read through journals on alternatives to animal
          experimentation in my quest for good, solid, scientific facts to substantiate this conviction. Here, at
          last, is a book that exhaustively examines and synthesizes the literature on this subject. The facts are
          set out clearly and quite without sentimentality. The arguments presented here are not those of most
          animal rights activists that play on emotions to generate sympathy for animals. Nor are they the
          arguments of moral philosophers, based on logic. Instead the authors use factual, scientific arguments
          to explain how, in their view, the infliction of suffering on animals in medical research is not a
          biomedical evil, necessary to save human lives, but a real betrayal of the scientific method. Animal
          experimentation is unethical and cruel. It hurts animals, it is expensive, and it is so often detrimental
          to the very species it professes to be helping – our own.
          Jean and Ray Greek are singularly well qualified to write this book since they are well versed in the
          science of medicine, both from the human and the animal perspective. Their specified aim in writing
          Sacred Cows and Golden Geese is to bring this whole issue into the domain of the general public. And
          because it is so clearly written, and the issues discussed so logically, those who read it will be in a far
          better position to evaluate the scientific pros and cons of animal experimentation. It will, for this
          reason, be invaluable for animal rights activists who have not, to date, considered the scientific
          arguments against animal experimentation. It should be read by all students who plan a career in
          medicine. It should find a place in all libraries, including high school libraries. Only when the general
          public has a better understanding of the issues can we expect a ground-swell of opposition to animal
          experimentation. This will force science to direct its collectively awesome intellect into different
          pathways in its search to alleviate human suffering.

      • @Anne,

        Respectfully, Dr. Goodall expertise is in anthropology, not life sciences or medical research. I respect her ethical objections to the work, but she cannot speak with authority on the science of medical research.

        I will grant you that Dr. Greek’s ability to twist facts, use half-truths and distort medical history is indeed unparalleled, to the extent that he even got Dr. Goodall and many other well-meaning people confused about what the scientific facts are.

        Dr. Greek thinks highly of himself, a medical genius of sorts, he alone holds the answers, he feels misunderstood and marginalized by 92% of medical scientists, he is the skeptic-in-chief, everyone else being fools, part of the system, driven by greed, and ignorant of the truths preached by this “medical deity” — as he likes to call himself.

        Are you part of this cult?

      • Ann, I expect that Dario has already read “Sacred cows…” and probably several other books by Ray Greek, since he has responded many times to claims that Greek makes.

        I once picked up a copy of the book myself, years ago before I got involved in the animal research debate. I happened to open it on a passage about the discovery on penicillin, and I have to admit that if I hadn’t been familiar with the actual facts of the discovery and development of the antibiotic from reading other far more detailed accounts I might have found he Greek’s account convincing, it was a masterpiece of half-truth and omission. As it was I found it rather risible, and the tone of the book unpleasantly arrogant, so I put it back on the shelf. Some of the points covered can be found here

        A couple of years later I read a review of the book by the pharmacologist Dr. Michael Festing (Sacred Cows and Golden Geese (Book Review). Michael F.W. Festing, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 29, pp.617-620, 2001.), which confirmed my intitial impressions. Festing writes about one particular passage about the discovery of the rabies vaccine:

        “There are many biographies of Pasteur which describe exactly how he did this by using intra-cerebral inoculations of infected neural tissue to induce rabies in dogs and rabbits, with homogenates of dried spinal cords of rabbits as a vaccine. . . . It took Pasteur five years to develop the vaccine, at which point he had about 50 dogs that were immune to rabies.

        . . .Pasteur and his colleagues examined the child and decided that they dare not refuse to treat him. Meister did not develop the disease, and by 1 March 1886, of 350 patients treated, only one had developed rabies, and she had not been treated until 37 days after she had been bitten. It has been estimated that 40-80% of people bitten by rabid dogs developed rabies, so there is not the slightest doubt that Pasteur had in fact developed a highly effective vaccine, which has since saved many thousands of human lives. The vaccine continued to be used for many years, until replaced by a vaccine prepared in cell cultures.

        On page 33 of this book, it states that ”. . . Pasteur used animals as pseudo-humans as he attempted to craft a rabies vaccine. He took spinal column tissue of infected dogs and made what he thought was a vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine did not work seamlessly and actually resulted in deaths. Yet, this gross failure did somehow did not detract from the reverence for the animal-lab process.” This account is simply not true. The vaccine did not cause any deaths, it failed to cure one person out of the first 350, for a very good reason, and it was highly successful. The book does not even acknowledge that Pasteur did in fact produce a rabies vaccine.”

        Festing concludes:

        “Unfortunately, the book is a feat of omission and distortion,” to use the words that it uses to describe somebody else’s work. it cannot be described as a serious attempt to show the limitations of animal research, because any facts that conflict with the beliefs of the authors have simply been ignored, or history has conveniently been rewritten. As a way of reducing the use of animals in medical research, I think this book will be counter-productive, because even if the authors do have a few good points to make, its numerous inaccuracies and distortions make it impossible to trust anything that they have written.”

        I’m rather glad that I didn’t read “Sacred cows…” and doubt that I ever will, I like to be able to read a bood without feeling that I have to fact-check every second sentence.

  13. Anne, you should read what I have written above, animal models of Parkinson’s disease are crucial to the development of new therapies for Parkinson’s disease alongside – not instead of – non-animal approaches. Animal studies account for a minority of PD research, but are crucial to the overall effort, it’s a matter of synergy. This is why groups such as Prof. Benabid’s in Grenoble undertake it alongside a very wide range of other techniques (for example genetic studies, a host of in vitro techniques, human MRI scans and PET scans and electrophysiological studies in PD patients during treatment) to gain a fuller understanding of the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease and in the evaluation of pharmaceutical therapies, improved DBS techniques, and more recently stem cell and gene therapy approaches to its treatment.

    It’s also clear that the MPTP study adheared to the highest standards of care, including the use of anaesthesis when required.

    You can twist your story any way you like but the fact remains that STOP have grossly misrepresented Prof. Doudet’s work in their press releases and statements about these two projects. It is very clear that there was no recycling of MPTP treated monkeys from th MPTP study into the lactacystin study – which is hardly a surprise as previous treatment with MPTP would make it difficult to interpret the observed PET scan data following lactacystin treatment.

    The question is why STOP feels that it has to misrepresent the truth about these two studies to make it’s case against Prof. Doudet. Could it be that STOP are really aware that there views on the utility of this research and the way the animals used were cared for won’t hold much water on their own, so they have to be accompanied by a sensational – if very inaccurate – allegation of scientific misconduct. I think it’s what is known as the “big lie” technique.

  14. Anne Birthistle

    Dr. Browne,
    may I suggest that relevant, human-based approaches to the investigation of the causes and possible cure of Parkinson’s Disease are being employed elsewhere and are what we are urging UBC Brain Research Centre’s researchers to accept? That the MPTP and lactacystin studies are not related is untrue: they are both part of Dr. Doudet’s overarching attempt to create an new model of parkinsonism.
    Why were the four monkeys’ lives in the MPTP study held so sacrosanct that they were ‘euthanized’ when some of their brethren were recycled into the L91 study already earmarked for death?
    That the clinical discovery of DBS has been purloined into an argument FOR animal research is an anomaly.
    That UBC Animal Care Committee would approve such invasive use of primates in Dr. Doudet’s laboratory is beyond reprehensible. It is a tragic illustration of a failed system.