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Perspectives On Medical Research
Volume 2, 1990


NIH Research Protocol for Silver Spring Monkeys: A Case of Scientific Misconduct (Part I)


Neal D. Barnard, M.D., Roy Selby, M.D., Daniel N. Robinson, Ph.D., Gervasia M. Schreckenberg, Ph.D., Carol Van Petten, M.D.

Introduction

In 1981, police removed a group of monkeys, now known as the Silver Spring Monkeys, from the laboratory of psychologist Edward Taub, whose experiments were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Taub's research involved cutting the sensory nerves of monkeys' arms to see how well the monkeys could learn to use the numb limbs. Many of the animals mutilated their deadened limbs. The laboratory was grossly unsanitary, and there was a total absence of veterinary care. Taub was tried and convicted of animal cruelty, but his conviction was later overturned when an appellate court ruled that his federal funding exempted him from the provisions of Maryland's animal cruelty statute.

Thereafter, the monkeys were placed in the custody of the NIH and, later, the Delta Regional Primate Research Center. Many members of Congress have appealed to the NIH to transfer the animals to a primate sanctuary. The case has continued to be a source of conflict between the NIH on the one hand and animal protection groups and several Congressional offices on the other.

On or about July 1, 1988, a research protocol involving neurological experiments and euthanasia of the monkeys was sent to Congressmen Robert K. Dornan (R-CA) and Robert C. Smith (R-NH), and shortly thereafter to Congressman Charlie Rose (D-NC), all of whom have had a longstanding involvement with the case. The proposal was sent by William F. Raub, who was then NIH Deputy Director and is now Acting Director. Evidence strongly indicates that, in its content, its form, and the process by which it was proposed, the research protocol constitutes gross scientific misconduct and may have involved violations of regulations governing federally funded research. One of the proposal's aims was, apparently, to kill the animals who have been a source of poor public relations for the NIH.

This case is unique in several respects:

1. It appears that one motive behind the proposal was the intent to deceive one or more members of the U.S. Congress, particularly Robert Dornan, Robert Smith, and Charlie Rose. Subsequently, attorneys for the NIH alluded to the proposed protocol in cases before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, effectively using this proposal in such a manner that the courts would be deceived as to the scientific value of the animals in question.

2. The experiment has been conducted on only one monkey. Addressing this issue now would prevent the conduct of improper research of an invasive nature on the remaining animals.

3. Raub, who was then NIH Deputy Director and is currently Acting Director, has played a central role in this case. It is extraordinary that a high-ranking NIH official would offer such a research proposal, describe it as a "carefully" drawn experiment, and promote it in communications to Congressional offices. The circumstances surrounding the case suggest that, while Raub's advancement of the proposal to the Congressmen was rationalized by scientific arguments, its true aim had nothing to do with the specific area of scientific inquiry in question. This conclusion is supported both by the previous events in this case and the proposal's strikingly poor scientific quality and deficient form.

On October 2, 1985, Raub wrote a private letter to Joseph Vasapoli, Chief Executive Officer of the Institutes for Behavior Resources, owner of the monkeys. The letter, later obtained under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, stated that the NIH had no interest in using the animals for any research whatsoever and was anxious to be rid of them. Less than three years later, the research proposal was drafted and Raub sent it to Congressmen Dornan, Smith, and Rose. It states that the proposal would elicit "information that is potentially of great significance for alleviating suffering and advancing human health." The proposal was written, not by an extramural research institution, but by an anonymous author, and advanced to Congressional representatives by Raub. It is likely that former NIH Director James Wyngaarden had knowledge of the research proposal. It is, therefore, a case demanding an investigation of a scope beyond that required for cases of misconduct at extramural sites.

4. This case involves animals seized by police in Maryland in 1981. Their disposition has since been the subject of a prolonged series of lawsuits and Congressional actions, including requests signed by majorities of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that the animals be released from NIH custody.

5. Former NIH Director Wyngaarden has described the case of these animals as highly damaging to NIH's relationship with Congress. A resolution of the scientific fraud in this case is central to reestablishing a proper working relationship between Congress and those charged with the responsibility for carrying out federally funded research.

Circumstances Leading to Improper Proposal

The primates were seized by Montgomery County police from the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR) in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1981. Thereafter, they were housed at an NIH facility in Poolesville, Maryland until 1986. On September 24, 1985, Joseph Vasapoli, Chief Executive Officer of IBR, which had been renamed the "Institutes for Behavior Resources," attempted to rid IBR of the animals. He wrote to Dr. Raub relinquishing ownership of the monkeys, because the original IBR investigator, Edward Taub, felt that the likelihood of his receiving funding to resume the research was "remote." On October 2, 1985, Dr. Raub responded:

The NIH does not accept the proposal that we take ownership of them. We have no research protocols, either ongoing or planned, for which these animals are appropriate. As various NIH spokespersons have indicated from time to time, we wish to discontinue our temporary custody of the IBR monkeys as soon as possible.

The animals were transferred to Delta Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana in 1986. Five monkeys were later sent to the San Diego Zoo, and, although the remaining monkeys have been offered homes at two sanctuaries (Primarily Primates in Texas and Moorpark College in California), the NIH has refused to release them.

Related Experiments Advanced for Non-Scientific Aims

Although Raub's letter to Vasapoli clearly shows that the NIH had no interest in pursuing research with the monkeys, certain research proposals involving the animals were advanced by the NIH and scientific organizations soon thereafter, and were described as important experiments in briefings for Congressional officials. There is ample evidence that these proposals were not made to advance science, but to advance the NIH's interests in a lawsuit over custody of the monkeys and to prevail in related conflicts. Three research proposals, in fact, have been described to Congressional representatives in support of arguments for not relocating the monkeys. These three research proposals and the surrounding circumstances are briefly described below:

Proposal 1. Completion of Taub's original research. Taub lost his NIH grant following his arrest and the subsequent investigations, and IBR had many problems coming into compliance with applicable regulations. The NIH later approved an application from Dr. Taub to complete his research, but assigned it a low priority and did not fund it. NIH never sought any other investigator to complete the work. As noted above, Dr. Raub wrote to IBR in 1985 that the animals were not appropriate to any ongoing or planned NIH research. Raub specifically indicated to IBR that research on the animals was of no interest at NIH at that time, nor did he anticipate that that would change in the future.

In 1986, in response to a lawsuit brought by the International Primate Protection League and other animal protection groups to obtain custody of the monkeys so that they could be transferred to a primate sanctuary, several scientific organizations made a brief call for the completion of Taub's original research. The scientific organizations' principal concern was that if the court were to allow animal protection groups to bring suit over these animals, a precedent would be set recognizing that such groups have standing to sue over other animals involved in research.

Raub wrote to Congress on May 2, 1986, voicing this concern:

The pending lawsuit has considerable national significance. If the courts rule that individuals or organizations that have no apparent rights of ownership with respect to particular laboratory animals have standing to bring litigation regarding their use or disposition, this could become a precedent for hundreds of such suits throughout the Nation. I am sure that you appreciate the adverse effect this could have on the progress of biomedical research.

Numerous scientific societies filed amicus briefs to influence the court to avoid establishing such a precedent. It is evident that representatives of several of these groups had been in direct or indirect contact with Raub, Wyngaarden, and others from the NIH, and that the animals' research value was advanced as a means to win the custody battle.

On April 30, 1986, less than seven months after Dr. Raub had stated that NIH had "no research protocols, either ongoing or planned, for which these animals are appropriate," a letter was sent to members of the U.S. Senate on the stationery of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) on behalf of 28 other organizations "whose members are heavily engaged in biomedical and behavioral research and health care." The letter was sent in anticipation of oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which were scheduled for May 8. Although the letter contains non-specific praise for the idea of completing Taub's original research protocol, its motivation was clearly to prevent the plaintiffs from achieving any precedent-setting decision. First, representatives of the signatory organizations verbally stated that this was their motivation, as is detailed below. Second, these groups stopped promoting the research as soon as the court case ended. Third, the letter's text is explicit in this regard:

The precedent that would be established by acceding to their demands would have a disruptive effect on both the research and academic communities and would severely damage the longstanding, interdependent relationship between the federal government and those communities.

At that time, one author of the present critique (Dr. Barnard) called representatives of a number of the groups listed as signatories to that letter. Their statements clearly indicate that their involvement in the court proceedings stemmed from a desire to cooperate with other scientific organizations in an attempt to fight the establishment of a legal precedent, rather than from an interest in specific research involving these animals. Several of these representatives stated that they had been told that Taub's original research had merit and should be completed, but none had detailed knowledge of the research. Several had been told by Raub or Wyngaarden that the animals could not be adequately cared for at a sanctuary. Quotations from a number of these representatives follow. They demonstrate that expressed interest in the research in question was not genuine, but was aimed at the issue of legal standing which might, if recognized by the courts, later impact on their own interests. In addition, they show the degree of pressure felt by the NIH and the scientific organizations involved in the case. This pressure appears to have ultimately led to improper research proposals. Here, listed by organization, are some statements made by individual representatives:

The Shock Society: "[We] just wanted to support the principle to show solidarity with our colleagues. I haven't looked over the protocols. The principle is not giving in to terrorist groups or groups that are not accredited."

The American Psychiatric Association: 'The issue has to do with protecting NIH from getting involved with this stuff. NIH wound up with these monkeys. They're an incidental kind of thing. It's really an issue of -- we strongly support research. . . . We have usually stood with other research organizations. . . . I'm not an expert on this. . . . I respect Bill Raub. NIH must have a plan for using them."

The American Diabetes Association: 'The Foundation for Biomedical Research and AAMC drafted the letter. It was our judgment that it was important enough to sign on to . . . . The overriding issue is that animal rights groups should not be granted standing. Animal rights groups could impede or halt research."

The Association of American Medical Colleges: 'There is a principle at stake. If PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is able through the political process to establish the ability to influence the outcome of something of this nature, we're in for some real trouble."

The Massachusetts General Hospital: "We signed on because we are concerned about the general protection of the use of animals in research. I was not familiar with this research before this issue came up."

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association: 'The major reason [we signed on to the AAMC letter] was the problem of standing that these groups might obtain if they win the court case on these animals. That's our primary concern."

The American College of Surgeons: "We have to go along with what we're advised to do. We only know what we're told."

The Association of Academic Health Centers: "[We are] in support of the general issue and the need for animals in research. We have no specific interest in the animals."

The Association of American Universities: "We're concerned about the impact on research. . . . We heard that some of the animals could not be properly cared for at Primarily Primates. . . . Bill Raub told me that last Friday."

The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges: "We have people committed to the notion that, for a great deal of research, animals are necessary. . . . Eight of those monkeys can't be moved. They received very radical surgery. They're very fragile. I'm not saying the controls couldn't be moved. I stood with Wyngaarden in a corner at a party last week on the Hill. I asked him, because I'd heard from two other sources at NIH that they couldn't be moved. He says they need daily veterinary care. He told me the first time in a corner, and the second time at a meeting. The second time, I asked him at a meeting -- an impromptu thing. We have an ad hoc group on biomedical research to get money for ADAMHA. He gave us a briefing at the Hill. They did not have, to his understanding, the good solid veterinary care that those animals would need on a daily basis. . . . I've heard Bill Raub and others at NIH say they have all the paper work done by Taub and that follow-up work is entirely possible. We don't have any thought whatsoever on that."

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases: "[We are interested] strictly in the generic issue, that's all."

The American Council on Education: "We're really concerned with the litigation more than anything else."

The American Federation for Clinical Research: "We're all concerned about the precedent that this would set. We're not concerned about the 15, but animals in general. .. . The information (gained by completing Taub's original research protocol) could be quite valuable." When asked how, the representative quoted a brief from the National Association for Biomedical Research, and indicated that she had no specific or independent knowledge of the research.

The American Society for Microbiology: 'The concern is for the precedent. This could set a precedent for animal activists to make demands."

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the idea of completing Taub's original research was advanced, not for scientific aims, but to assist NIH's effort in the lawsuit and the continuing public relations battle. Moreover, there is an apparent acceptance of the practice of proposing and advocating experiments in order to affect a court decision and to create an impression in federal legislators.

The interest in Taub's original research waned almost immediately. On June 13, 1986, in a briefing to Congress, Dr. Wyngaarden stated that NIH had again abandoned interest in the original research except for necropsies of the animals after their natural deaths. The medical organizations which were politically active in the issue stopped promoting Taub's original research as soon as the court decided that the animal protection groups did not have standing to sue.

Proposal 2: Resocialization research. The second research area, proposed by Dr. Wyngaarden in his June 13, 1986 Congressional briefing, was primate resocialization. Since the monkeys had been in prolonged isolation and could perhaps be put into groups, Wyngaarden described resocialization process as a potentially valuable field of study. In a letter to Congressman Smith four days earlier, Wyngaarden has written of this line of research with particular emphasis on a monkey with bilaterally deafferented limbs:

The knowledge gained from this process could have the benefits of contributing to better understanding of primate behavior in group situations and thereby advance both animal care and conservation efforts.. . . The remaining primate, an animal with both forelimbs disabled, will be cared for individually. The nature and extent of its use of disabled limbs will be studied through systematic observations. The knowledge gained could contribute to better understanding of the possibility for recovery from this type of disability.

This small group of animals could certainly not overshadow the social processes of the other 3,000 primates at Delta and numerous investigators' years of research on primate social processes. The suggestion of "resocialization research" made by the head of the NIH had no obvious connection to genuine significant research interests and appears to have been advanced for public relations purposes, aimed at Congressional offices.

No detailed proposals were ever offered for this research. The control monkeys were later put into groups at the San Diego Zoo, and the idea of research on resocialization of the deafferented monkeys appears to have been abandoned. In part, this may be because the NIH's assessments of the monkeys' health have changed over time, as is discussed below. Wyngaarden's credibility on this issue came even more into question at that time, because of other promises he made: He stated that the monkeys would not be moved without notification of the parties involved in the litigation and that they would not be relocated without being surgically prepared, i.e., having their deafferented arms amputated. But only ten days after the Congressional briefing, on June 23, 1986, the animals were secretly loaded into trucks and transferred to Delta without prior notification and without any surgical preparation.

Proposal 3: Neurological experiments and euthanasia. The NIH protocol sent to Congressmen Dornan and Smith on July 1, 1988 was the third research proposal involving the animals since Taub's trial.

The NIH appears to have felt continuing pressure to make a case for the monkeys' research value. In April and May of 1986, a majority of the U.S. Senate signed a letter to Dr. Wyngaarden asking that the monkeys be transferred to a sanctuary. A majority of the House of Representatives signed a similar letter. Editorials calling for the monkeys' release appeared in many newspapers. Although the standing issue is over, the NIH has remained at odds with animal protection groups and several Congressional offices regarding the case. Wyngaarden has described the case of these animals as highly damaging to the NIH and its relationship with Congress, and a threat to its financial support. In Science and Government Report, May 15, 1989, Wyngaarden stated:

We have had probably no single more enervating case than the Silver Spring monkey case. It was here when I arrived and it will be here when I leave.. . . [Because of this and other controversies] some of our strong backers on the House Appropriations Committee say it's a little harder each year to get this sort of kneejerk response supporting the NIH budget from the rest of the Congress. They have to work harder at selling their colleagues, not within the Subcommittee, but sometimes within the full Committee, and certainly within the Congress as a whole. All of these issues have made it a little more difficult to get the kind of broad, unquestioned backing for the NIH that it once had.

Delta's director, Peter Gerone, called for "scientists to unite and become proactive on animal issues in order to resist the mounting pressure exerted by animal rights activists," whom Gerone described as "fanatics" and "misanthropes."1 The American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research, and some government officials have developed detailed proposals for battling animal protection groups that have called for an uncompromising stand. It appears that Gerone and NIH officials have viewed releasing the animals as tantamount to surrender to animal protection groups. Given the atmosphere in the scientific community, NIH officials appear to have attempted to make a case for killing the animals and/or using them in research, rather than yield to pressure to release them.

Violation of Assurances to Congress

Invasive experiments on these animals violate a clear agreement between the NIH and Congress. In a June 9, 1986 letter to Congressman Robert C. Smith, NIH Director James Wyngaarden wrote, 'These animals will not undergo invasive procedures for research purposes." The definition of "invasive" in Dorland's Medical Dictionaiy, 26th Edition, is as follows: "Involving puncture or incision of the skin or insertion of an instrument or foreign material into the body." In hearings before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, Wyngaarden repeated, "No invasive procedures will be performed on the animals."

On July 10, 1986, Assistant Secretary for Health Robert E. Windom wrote, 'The Delta Center has agreed to house the animals, under very strict conditions, including that they will not be used for any further invasive research."

In a January 6, 1987 letter, Tulane President Eamon M. Kelly wrote, "We have publicly stated that the Center will not do any invasive research on the animals, and we intend to abide by that statement."

A January 8, 1987 Fact Sheet from NIH stated, "No further invasive research will be done on the animals."

In an August 15, 1986 letter to a concerned citizen, Gerone wrote:

Non-invasive research would be research that does not require infecting, cutting, inoculating or otherwise invading the animal's body. This should not be construed to mean, however, that we would not invade the animal's body for medical purposes. We intend to take whatever means are indicated to protect the health of the animals. Your questions imply that. . . . we can't be trusted to do what we say we're going to do. I resent that. I would not make public statements that our only concern is for the welfare of the animals and then turn around and use them experimentally.

In a November 20, 1986 letter to Congresswoman Boggs, Gerone wrote, "Please assure your constituents that we do not intend to do any research on these animals." Boggs then used this assurance as the basis for responding to concerned constituents.

Yet the experiment, carried out January 14, 1990, was clearly invasive. Its protocol -- the third proposed by the NIH -- involved cutting the scalp, skull, and meninges and passing electrodes into the brain. Despite its public assurances that the monkeys would not be subjected to further invasive research, Gerone was intermittently present as the experiment was performed. He had, in fact, listed himself as the experiment's principal investigator when Delta's animal care committee considered and approved the experiment.

Invasiveness is an important issue for two reasons:

(1) Manipulating the time frame of "humane" euthanasia. The decision to euthanize is to be based on humane considerations, not the desire to facilitate an experiment. Clearly, however, the experiment affected the decision to euthanize. In late December, Delta officials planned to begin the experiment on one monkey (Billy) on the assumption that they could obtain permission from the other parties in the pending lawsuit. They stated that although they believed euthanasia was necessary, they wished to delay it several days in order to bring in investigators from Nashville. This arrangement fell apart when plaintiffs refused to agree. On January 14, 1990, Gerone stated that euthanasia should occur that day, because if Billy were to die at night, the experimental results would be lost.

It should be noted that the procedure is to be done only when an individual animal requires euthanasia for humane reasons, e.g., severe, intractable pain. In such a case, delaying euthanasia in order to assemble a group of investigators and bring them to the site where the procedures are to take place violates NIH assurances concerning these monkeys. Delays in scheduling and transportation would be expected, given the number of investigators involved and the distance they presumably travel. The protocol also overlooks the fact that some of the animals may not require euthanasia. There is no provision for the animals to be allowed to die naturally.

(2) Pain. The protocol is intended to be implemented when each animal is so debilitated that euthanasia is required. At that point, anesthesia is risky for the animal. Those administering anesthesia might keep it too light, since maintaining deep anesthesia could inadvertently kill the subject and defeat the four-hour experiment. Gerone and Dr. Ratterree, a Delta veterinarian, stated in a phone conversation during the hearing before Judge Sporkin on January 14, 1990 that Billy would not be able to tolerate one hour of anesthesia for the placement of a feeding tube, yet it was necessary that he withstand four hours of anesthesia for the experiment.

The Euthanasia Question

The NIH protocol included both euthanasia of the monkeys and various neurological measurements. According to Raub, the protocol was to be used when euthanasia was required for humane reasons. A review of the various examinations of the animals reveals that Raub and Delta officials have attempted to make a case for euthanasia on tenuous grounds.

On October 1, 1986, two physicians, Douglas M. Koltun and Joseph J. Biundo, examined the monkeys and reported their findings. They noted abnormalities in the physical examinations and X-rays, most of which related to the condition of the deafferented limbs. They were impressed that one monkey, Nero, had undergone an amputation of his deafferented limb and was doing quite well:

This animal appeared to reach for food aggressively with his right hand and had no trouble in attempts to manipulate the food. Evaluation when under anesthesia showed that the skin of the left upper extremity/shoulder region was well healed and the patient appeared to have had the amputation just distal to the humeral head.

They recommended that amputation of the deafferented limbs be considered for all the monkeys except Billy, who was bilaterally deafferented, and was killed in the course of the experiment on January 14, 1990. They did not recommend euthanasia for any of the monkeys. In a telephone conversation with Dr. Barnard on February 16, 1987, Dr. Koltun confirmed that no animal appeared to be in any pain, and that amputation of the deafferented limbs would probably allow them to be safely resocialized. He again confirmed that euthanasia was not indicated. Dr. Koltun stated, "Judging from my impression of Nero, I thought it likely that they'd be able to do well with an amputated arm."

On December 3, 1986, Gerone convened a four-member "Ad Hoc Committee for the Resocialization Plan of the Silver Spring Monkeys" to make recommendations regarding the animals. The committee was given the report of Drs. Koltun and Biundo, and descriptions of the animals' physical status by Delta veterinarians Robert Wolf and Edwin Watson. Committee members did not conduct physical examinations on the animals. A letter from Raub to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, dated April 20, 1987, indicates that he had been in close touch with the committee throughout the period in which the report was generated.

In marked contrast to the medical findings of Drs. Koltun and Biundo, the Committee recommended euthanasia for all the deafferented animals as the preferred course of action. Although the physicians' examination did not note evidence of pain and Dr. Koltun specifically reported that none of the animals seemed to be in any pain, and despite the positive results from Nero's amputation, the Ad Hoc Committee reported that the animals were probably in pain which could not be relieved by amputation. No rationale was given for this judgment. In fact, the committee report noted that "Visual inspection of the animals revealed no obvious behavioral pathologies" that might indicate pain. In studies of groups of humans who have suffered deafferentation, pain is the exception, rather than the rule.2 Moreover, nowhere in the Ad Hoc Committee report or any other report generated in any aspect of this case is there any mention of any effort to alleviate pain. There is no mention that pain medications have been used, or even considered. This raises questions as to whether the "pain" mentioned by Wolf, Watson, and others was, in fact, present and whether the goal of those recommending euthanasia was truly pain relief.

In the event that euthanasia was rejected, the Ad Hoc Committee recommended amputation of affected limbs and resocialization. Other options were also suggested.

Three months later, a memorandum written at the American Physiological Society (APS) revealed what appears to be the context in which the euthanasia decision was made. The memo, dated March 17, 1987, indicates that extensive discussions occurred between APS, Tulane University (of which Delta is a part), the Institutes for Behavior Resources, the Society for Neuroscience, and the American Psychological Association, and that these groups had developed a plan to deal with the case. The plan included private payments to Tulane, which could be reduced and more easily arranged if the deafferented monkeys were killed. The memo stated:

The scientific community has negotiated with IBR and governmental agencies a possible resolution to which everyone (except the animal rights advocates who want the monkeys given to them) has given an agreement to the general details. PROPOSED AGREEMENT -- IBR gives title to the monkeys to Tulane University, thus freeing NIH from any responsibility as to the future of these animals. IBR pays NIH $16,000 owed for the monkeys' feed bill. (This is a possible snag as IBR in the past has refused to pay the bill. However, we have been told that there is a change of heart within IBR on this issue). . . . Tulane wants an endowment so neither state nor federal funds are involved.

If all 14 monkeys were to be maintained for the normal life expectancies, it has been calculated that $95,000 would have to be raised. With the treated animals to be euthanized it has been estimated that $35,000 to $50,000 needs to be raised.

Proposal to APS [American Physiological Society] -- Fred King, director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Atlanta, has been discussing with the Society for Neurosciences and the American Psychological Association the need to raise the funds to endow the lifetime care for the monkeys. Both organizations have agreed to do it if APS would be the third member.

Neurosciences, APA, and Al'S are the three organizations that have been involved directly in this seemingly never-ending episode, largely because Dr. Ed Taub, who was doing the research on the monkeys, is a member of all three organizations.

Tulane, then, would relieve the NIH of its longstanding public relations problem in exchange for payments from private sources. If the deafferented animals were killed, the payments could be reduced by $45,000-60,000. The required sum would then be considerably easier to raise. Also, the living symbols of federally funded cruelty would no longer exist.

On June 26, 1987, Janis Ott Joslin, a veterinarian, examined the monkeys at the request of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LSPCA). How this group made a liaison' with Delta is unclear. Dr. Joslin reported that the monkeys were active, alert, and in generally good health. She reported that she had been cautioned by Delta's Wolf and Watson that the animals may be experiencing "phantom pain" in their deafferented limbs that amputations would not alleviate, that the amputation sites might not heal, and that putting the animals into larger enclosures might lead to falls and trauma. Joslin's report provided no basis for Wolf's and Watson's opinions.

Dr. Joslin recommended that limb amputation and resocialization be considered on an individual basis. She did not report evidence of pain except for raising the possibility of pain for Billy, the double-deafferented monkey, and did not call for euthanasia of any of the animals, except for asking that it be considered for Billy.

Three days later, on June 29, 1987, Gary L. Frazell of the Louisiana SPCA issued a report on his Delta visit, which consisted of viewing the animals and being told by Wolf and Watson of their condition. Frazell, who is not a physician, veterinarian, or scientist, lacked the expertise to evaluate the animals independently and was not given the chance to do so. His conclusions were explicitly based on what those conducting his visit had told him. Wolf and Watson evidently used their speculations regarding "phantom pain" to encourage Frazell to recommend euthanasia for all the animals. He wrote:

Both Dr. Wolf and Dr. Watson . . . demonstrated through the use of x-rays that the spinal columns of these monkeys had, in varying degrees, deteriorated markedly. They expressed their belief that because of spinal deterioration several or possibly all of the eight monkeys are experiencing continual pain. On the assumption that this information is well founded I recommend that the eight monkeys be euthanized without further delay.

A seven-member panel wrote an Assessment of and Recommendations for "the Silver Spring Monkeys" on March 16-18, 1988. The panel recommended that two animals be killed and that three possibly be resocialized. The panel also concluded that four of the monkeys did not require euthanasia but were poor candidates for resocialization. The report praised Delta's staff and, curiously, contained unattributed language that was nearly identical to that contained in the anonymous NIH research protocol. For example, the first paragraph on page six of the panel report is nearly identical to the first paragraph of the protocol section "Background of the Scientific Problem." The second paragraph of the panel report and the protocol are also strikingly similar, strongly suggesting that the two were not drafted independently. The panel report also made an impassioned plea for neurological research on the animals.

Although euthanasia was recommended for two of the monkeys, there are no clinical findings that provide a rationale for this. A variety of skeletal abnormalities are present in these monkeys (joint luxation, scoliosis, lordosis, hypertrophic spondylitis, and joint fusion). The panel, however, did not conclude that these abnormalities caused the animals pain or discomfort, and there is no mention of "phantom limb pain." These same abnormalities are common in humans and do not, in and of themselves, indicate an unacceptable degree of pain.

A page of hand-written notes from the office of Adrian Morrison, a University of Pennsylvania veterinarian who has long been involved in the Silver Spring Monkeys case, indicates that the decision to kill all the animals at once was modified in order to avoid attracting protests from animal rights groups. These notes state, "Euthanize them.. . then decided to euth 2 right away and delay others. . . so PETA wouldn't descend."

An additional concern affecting the decision to kill rather than release the animals was revealed in a November 14, 1988 letter to Raub from panel member Douglas Bowden, Director of the Regional Primate Research Center at the University of Washington. In his letter to Raub, Bowden advised against relocating the monkeys to a private facility. In spite of the public relations cost of killing a "surplus animal," Bowden wrote:

(It) would be incalculably higher, however, were NIH to set a precedent whereby any lesioned animal from a nonterminal research project becomes an automatic candidate for transfer to a PETA surrogate for nonresearch purposes.

Our experience illustrates the kind of harassment and media event that is likely to occur repeatedly throughout the country if NIH establishes a precedent that lesioned research animals be sold or donated for nonscientific purposes. Every surplus lesioned animal in which PETA or any other anti-research organization registers an interest would become the potential subject of a bitter and protracted public debate. . . . I do not know the risk-benefit analysis of the consequences of a policy reversal for NIH per se. But for the US biomedical research community as a whole, it would be disastrous.

It is uncertain to what extent Bowden's opinions regarding the "disastrous" consequences of releasing the monkeys affected his behavior on the panel, but it is clearly inappropriate to consider the panel independent or objective.

An additional problem with the panel report is its inexplicable neglect of the possibility of amputation of the damaged limbs, which would allow the animals to be resocialized. In the panel report, potential damage to the deafferented limb appears to be the major reason for euthanasia and for avoiding resocialization efforts. Given that the report by Drs. Koltun and Biundo recommending amputation was made available to the panel, why wasn't amputation discussed? Also, the report indicates that individual housing was required because monkeys grouped together might fight; however, the control monkeys, also males, are group-housed at the San Diego Zoo and have done well in that arrangement. In summary, it appears that the panel was far from objective on the most pressing questions regarding the animals' fate.

On September 26, 1988, James Peddie, D.V.M. and Gary L. Wilson, Director of the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program of Moorpark College, evaluated the monkeys and combined their findings with those of Donald Lindburg, Ph.D. of the San Diego Zoo, who had served on the panel of March 16-18, 1988. It was concluded that the monkeys could be safely transported to Moorpark and cared for there, with the exception of Paul, who was infected with the Herpes B virus and who has since died.

In response to these recommendations, Raub wrote a letter to Wilson at Moorpark, expressing grave disappointment:

I am dismayed at your conclusion that Moorpark College could safely move and provide adequate care for seven of the eight experimentally disabled Silver Spring monkeys. The report is inaccurate, incomplete, and otherwise seriously misleading for the uninitiated reader. The egregious misrepresentation of Dr. Donald Lindburg's role and views is particularly distressing and will leave you no credibility. .. . I need a. .. commitment from you . . . to make decisions strictly on the basis of the pertinent facts and informed opinion. For you and I to do otherwise is to become pawns for those who desperately seek to devalue the opinions and impugn the integrity of the several experts whose wise counsel has guided the NIH, the Delta Center, and the San Diego Zoo to date in caring for the monkeys.

Raub then wrote to Congressman Smith of his dismay over Wilson's report and stated:

With respect to the most seriously disabled monkeys, we have deferred the euthanasia decision since July at your and Mr. Dornan's request. However, further delay no longer is tenable. Consultants with superb credentials and experience, who have studied these monkeys' conditions thoroughly, have given us clear-cut guidance on this matter. To keep the three most disabled monkeys alive for any significant additional time would constitute animal cruelty in our judgment.

Raub's letter is striking both in its description of the previous poorly supported euthanasia recommendations as "clear-cut guidance," and in Raub's statement against what he called "animal cruelty." Raub has not championed the humane treatment of animals in the past. Regarding Raub's letter, Wilson responded to Congressman Smith:

I was surprised by Dr. Raub's reaction to our evaluation of the Silver Spring monkeys. It seems he is quite unaware of Dr. Lindburg's position regarding these animals. Dr. Lindburg, Dr. Peddie, and myself all have come to the same conclusion, i.e., these animals are not in as poor condition as previous evaluations have indicated. . . . Dr. Peddie, in the course of treating traumatized animals, encounters quite similar problems routinely in his clinical practice and does not think of these problems as being that severe and unmanageable. . . . I was looking for signs the animals were suffering from either the deafferentation procedure or their long period of confinement. I was surprised at how well they appear to be doing. . . . I would only consider the Silver Spring monkeys candidates for euthanasia if there is no possibility for improving the quality of their life.

It is evident that Raub and Delta officials have called for euthanasia in the absence of a clear rationale. Their recommendation has been disputed by other experts who have examined the monkeys both before and after the committee reports Raub has cited.

Raub has been joined in this call for euthanasia by some of the same organizations which, in 1986, briefly called for the completion of Taub's original research as a means of preventing animal groups from gaining standing in court. The National Association for Biomedical Research, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and other organizations have made uncharacteristic pleas for euthanasia as the "humane" course for the animals. None of these groups has a history of advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. Indeed, they have frequently been on record opposing animal protection legislation. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the call for euthanasia is intended to serve self-interest. As part of the euthanasia plan, Raub advanced the third experimental protocol.

Delta's Role

As indicated above, Tulane University, which is the university affiliate of Delta, was actively involved in formulating a plan to relieve the NIH of the monkeys and the associated public relations problems in exchange for payments to be arranged by scientific organizations, particularly those to which Edward Taub, the original experimenter, belonged.

An additional part of the controversy concerns the care offered at Delta. The panel convened at Delta on March 16-18, 1988 had great praise for the care the animals have received at Delta. Animal protection groups, however, have been concerned about Delta's high rate of accidental deaths prior to the monkeys' arrival and the deaths of two of the deafferented monkeys since arriving at Delta. One presumably died of a pulmonary infection resulting from aspiration during feeding. The other died after a long illness for which the Delta veterinarians were never able to arrive at a diagnosis. It has been reported that no veterinarian was in attendance at the time that this monkey died and that, although tissue samples were taken, the body was incinerated without an examination by independent veterinarians. The NIH protocol was not used at that time.

A November, 1989 report on the monkeys' condition released by the NIH revealed that several were self-mutilating, presumably due to stress and to the NIH's failure to remove their flail arms. Several had dermatologic conditions and intestinal infections due to living in cramped individual cages in which they were continually exposed to their own wastes. All of these conditions would be responsive to proper care.

Peter Gerone, Delta's director, has been consistently active regarding the case's public relations aspects. On April 21, 1989, Gerone complained to James W. Glosser, Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that a federal inspection report had noted deficiencies in conditions at Delta. While Gerone admitted that the violations were accurately noted, he went so far as to suggest that the inspectors should have violated federal law by omitting these failures from their written report in order to avoid damaging Delta's reputation. Gerone wrote:


If I may make a point, let's assume that I am an antivivisectionist and I request this report through the Freedom of Information Act. I could write the following headline:

'The Delta Regional Primate Research Center of Tulane University, home of the Silver Spring monkeys, was recently cited for 5 deficiencies in an unscheduled visit by a USDA veterinarian. They were given 30 days in which to correct these deficiencies."

That would be a perfectly true statement and would have a very damaging effect on what is an excellent, world-class primate research facility. The point I am making is that USDA, without intending to do so, is playing into the hands of the animal rights/antivivisectionists. . . . Someone else mentioned that the USDA and APHIS are our "friends" in this fight over the use of animals in research. . . . [I]f these are our friends, we don't need any enemies! . . . We would not quarrel with any of the points that were made by the inspector. He could have told us about them and we would have corrected them immediately. What I do quarrel with is having these stated in writing and giving us a written ultimatum to correct them in 30 days. . . . I am convinced that, if you are trying to placate the animal rights activists by nit-picking inspections, you are engaged in an exercise in futility, and you will only serve to do us irreparable harm.

Gerone then offered to buy Glosser a ticket to New Orleans to speak about the issue further. Gerone seems to have forgotten that federal law mandates written reports of inspections. On August 7, 1989, Gerone played a principal role (chair of fund-raising and membership) in an organizational meeting of the Foundation for Animal Use in Society, with the explicit intention of soliciting the involvement of the fur industry, rodeos, hunting and trapping groups, livestock producers, meat processors, auction barns, and animal research groups in a "proactive" effort to protect their interests. Notes from the meeting show that the Society was to be described to the public as "an animal welfare organization."

Gerone has played an active role in the Silver Spring Monkey case since the monkeys were moved to his facility. In an application to Delta's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee asking approval of the new NIH experiment, Gerone listed himself as Principal Investigator, although he has no relevant experience and played no evident role in drafting the experiment.

Litigation in the case continues. When the NIH announced its intention to kill three of the animals and carry out the euthanasia/research protocol, the International Primate Protection League and other groups filed suit in Louisiana State Court to prevent the NIH from doing so. The court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the NIH from harming or killing the animals. The NIH successfully sought to have the case moved to Federal District Court, which upheld the restraining order. Currently, the NIH is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The temporary restraining order was voided on January 11, 1990, so that Billy could be experimented on, then euthanized. On January 12, a new restraining order was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. On January 14, NIH attorneys submitted a declaration from Peter Gerone to the Court to the effect that Billy was about to die, and that the experiment should be conducted at once in order to avoid losing valuable data. The order was again voided; that evening, Billy was experimented on and killed.

Part II