Animal Researchers Persevere Despite Attacks
Continued From Page A1
cowed many scientists into silence.
With few researchers willing to explain the importance of their work,
public support for the use of animals
in research will dry up, warn science
“We’re responding with silence,
and we’ve lost the war for public opinion,” says Jacquie Calnan, president
of Americans for Medical Progress,
a nonprofit organization that supports
the use of animals in research.
Her organization, however, is trying
to fight back by importing an activist
from the University of Oxford who
helped set up pro-research groups at
universities in Britain, which has had
a longer and more violent history of
And some investigators are bucking
the trend by speaking out and opening up their labs, trying to counter the
message that animal-rights groups are
4HERE 7ILL "E 0ROTESTS
Many scientists in the United
States are girding themselves for next
week, when activists have planned
protests and news conferences as part
of World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week. Michael A. Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, says activists will stage
events in more than 50 locations,
most of them at universities.
The April protests, which have occurred annually for more than two
decades, have largely been peaceful.
But now researchers worry about violence, especially in the wake of the
recent attacks in California.
“The attacks are more frequent
and they’re much more violent, and
they include not only the researcher’s
laboratory but also the personage of
the researcher, his family, and his
home,” says Jeffrey H. Kordower, a
professor of neurological sciences at
Rush University Medical Center and
chairman of the Committee on Animals in Research at the Society for
The prevailing wisdom among
some scientists and university ad-
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS
ministrators is that the altered tactics are driving investigators away
from animal research. They point
to a few highly publicized departures. In 2006, Dario L. Ringach,
an associate professor of behavioral neuroscience at the University of
California at Los Angeles medical
school announced he was curtailing
his research using primates, after
extremists from the Animal Liberation Front left an incendiary device
near the home of another UCLA researcher. Protesters had previously threatened Mr. Ringach and his
In 2002, Michael Podell, a professor and veterinary researcher at
Ohio State University, announced
! # #
$ # # # %
& ' (
Opposing protests: Demonstrators against animal research
have marched at the Oregon Health & Science University (left),
while a new pro-research movement has grown in Britain (above),
holding events at the U. of Oxford.
he was leaving the university after
receiving death threats.
Beyond its effects on senior scientists, the intimidation has also
scared away students, says Lindy F.
Greene, an animal-rights protester in
Los Angeles who was arrested last
month outside the home of a UCLA
researcher. “The combined effect is
that graduate students don’t want to
get into animal research,” she says.
A number of researchers fear that
Ms. Greene is right. “I’ve talked to
graduate students who tell me that’s
not the kind of business they want to
go into,” says P. Michael Conn, associate director of the Oregon National
Primate Research Center, who has
faced protests and vandalism.
At least one scientist has decided he
needs to publicly warn students about
the dangers involved in working with
animals. Robert G. Dennis, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, put this message on
his Web page for potential graduate
students and postdocs: “You should be
aware that due to the highly controversial nature of this research, which
involves animal-machine hybrids and,
of course, stem cells, you will be constantly at risk from extremist groups
and individuals. I have personally received many threatening messages.”
But anecdotes aside, an analysis
of research grants by The Chronicle
reveals a surprising trend: People do
not seem to be leaving the field. The
Chronicle obtained records from the
National Institutes of Health, through
a Freedom of Information Act request,
for the numbers of research grants involving animals over the past 20 years.
Compared with the total numbers of
applications and awards, the percentage that involves the use of animals
has kept relatively constant, hovering
around 42 percent since 1990.
According to Mr. Dennis, even
with warnings like the one he posted
on his Web site, he has not had trouble finding students. “I do not think
animal activists have really done
much to reduce the numbers,” he said
Continued on Page A28
A Scientist Struggles
With Continuing Protests
sounds weary on this April
morning, perhaps because
of the people yelling outside her
house the night before.
The associate professor of
ophthalmology at the University
of Utah, who studies the visual
system in marmosets’ brains, is
one of the main targets of animal-rights activists. They harass
her at home and follow her to
meetings, singling her out from
among the tens of thousands of
other scientists at a recent conference. But while she has altered some of her habits, she says
she has not even contemplated
stopping her work.
In November, while attending
the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, Dr. Angelucci returned to her hotel after dinner and
received an unusual message. It
was from the hotel manager: There
had been a demonstration against
her earlier at the conference in the
evening, while she was out.
That didn’t surprise Dr. Angelucci. “They’ve been doing it
pretty much at every meeting, so
I did expect it and in fact, we were
prepared to move somewhere else,
which is what we did,” she says,
explaining that she switched hotels.
The network of worldwide activists even organized a protest
against her when she attended a
meeting in Arezzo, Italy, last year.
In the future, she says, she
might make multiple hotel reservations for meetings and not use
her real name.
For a brief period, it had seemed
that Dr. Angelucci was safe at
home. She had faced demonstrations there in the past, but her
neighborhood had been quiet since
July, when Salt Lake City limited
protests near homes to protect
university researchers. Then this
month, the demonstrators returned.
“They are really loud, but from inside the house it’s difficult to make
out what they’re saying. It’s usually
‘torturer’ and ‘we’re going to stop
this,’” she says.
She tries her best to ignore
it. “Because I have a 3-year-old
and I don’t want him listening to
what these people say, typically
what we do is have the music on
and turn it up so he can’t hear the
noise and get scared.”