Primate research will continue, officials say
Vigil, e-mails won't deter researchers from moving
Even after a vigil, a barrage of e-mails and animal rights objections, a primate researcher at the UA said plans will move forward to open a new psychology laboratory and to continue monkey experimentation.
"Nothing will change," said Fraser Wilson, a University of Arizona assistant psychology professor who will be the first researcher to move his experiments to the new lab.
A new research lab in the Psychology building - opening within a month to replace an existing primate research facility in the College of Medicine - will house Wilson's experiment.
In recent weeks, Wilson said he has received 57 e-mails, mostly from people outside the UA who oppose animal research.
"People outside this university really have no idea what is going on," Wilson said.
He added that most of the e-mails he has received are from people who are "grossly misinformed" about ongoing primate research experiments.
Wilson said he will contact all people who sent him messages in an effort to clear up misconceptions about the research and to create dialogue about the sensitive subject.
Michael Budkie, principal investigator for Cincinnati-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now, said there is nothing to clear up.
"(The experiments are) extremely cruel to the primates. This cannot possibly be humane," Budkie said. "These monkeys will not survive throughout the five-year life of the study."
More than 60 community members attended a vigil Friday at the University Medical Center to oppose the research.
Roberta Wright, spokeswoman for the Tucson group - Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom - that organized the Friday vigil said the university is not concerned with the well-being of the monkeys during the experiments.
"They use monkeys because they are like us. They torture the animals because they're enough not like us," Wright said. "This is a joke."
She added there is no justification for the research because other experiments substantiate proposed hypotheses.
"This is not about human health or curing diseases, it's about getting Ph.D.s," she said.
Lynn Nadel, head of the psychology department, said he can understand animal rights advocates' concerns about primate research, but the experiments are still important.
"For the people that say it is not worth saving one human life for 1,000 monkeys, I respectfully disagree," Nadel said.
He added that primate research has helped to cure many diseases and disorders that cannot be cured through computer simulations.
"People doing important research should not be made out to be criminals," he said.
Nadel said he has received between 50 and 100 e-mails regarding the new lab, mainly from anti-research individuals. Some of the e-mails were from students trying to gather more information on the experiments that will take place in the new lab.
"I am perfectly happy to meet with students," he said.
Wilson said he would also be open to clearing up misconceptions with students, and he invites people to visit the lab and look around.
While Wilson and Nadel have mainly received negative feedback, Wilson was quick to point out that there have been a few positive respondents.
"I was recently contacted by two people who suffer from epilepsy, and they're excited about the possibilities of the research," Wilson added.