Statement on Harvard’s Decision to Close the New England Primate Research Center

Speaking of Research is saddened to learn about Harvard’s decision to wind down operations at the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) within the next two years.

Over the years the Primate Center has contributed important discoveries in many fields, including AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, primate retroviruses, addiction, cardiology and stem cells.

The University cited difficult financial times and shifting long-term strategic plans as the reason for the closing.  Meanwhile animal right activists groups fought among themselves to take credit for Harvard’s decision.

Perhaps a combination of both, the planned closure is a reflection of decreasing Federal support for medical research and a growing anti-scientific movement in the United States and elsewhere.

In Harvard’s decision one can find many lessons for the scientific community, NIH and the public at large, which are likely to be the subject of debate and discussion in the near future. The wider research community will need work together with faculty and staff at NEPRC to ensure that Harvard Medical school keeps to its commitment to provide full support to them during this transition, so that vital research programs and gifted personnel are not lost to science.

For now Speaking of Research join others in expressing our surprise and disappointment at these developments, and offer our support for the scientists, staff and others affected by these events.

Speaking of Research