Ten Worst Laboratories

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Ten Worst Laboratories refers to laboratories that do animal testing.

The following laboratories were rated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) according to: worst violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA); [1] largest numbers of animals killed; most painful and invasive experiments and least willing to make improvements. [2] Six of the following ten universities are part of the eight regional National Primate Research Center System (NPRC) facilities that test and breed laboratory primates.

Ten worst laboratories

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin, Madison is home to the Wisconsin Primate Research Center (WPRC). The center keeps approximately 2,500 primates, including 500 primates confined to isolation cages. Every year, approximately 850 primates are subjected to experiments. The chairman of the animal welfare committee, Eric Sandgren and the universities' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) have repeatedly been criticized for secrecy, negligence and obstruction; at one point prompting a lawsuit for holding secret meetings. A routine U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection discovered an alarming number of monkeys dying in university approved protocols. For example, in barbaric experiments conducted by Professor Ei Terasawa, drugs were injected directly into conscious primates’ brains using surgically implanted "cranial pedestals" in their skulls. Monkeys were immobilized in restraint chairs for three full days. One monkey died alone in his restraint chair while researchers were at lunch. Professor Harry Harlow conducted the infamous "monster mother" studies there in the 1950's. Baby monkeys were removed from their mothers to be raised by mechanical "monster mothers". [3]

PETA exposed serious conflicts of interest in Professor John Webster’s government funded and industry biased testing of Taser guns on pigs. One study at the university had multiple, paid consultants with ties to the manufacturer of Taser. Only after public pressure did the university remove Taser's medical advisor, John Stratbucker. However, Professor Sandgren has approved Tasor experiments to be conducted on pigs, in spite of the failures of countless other animal experiments to determine safety guidelines. [4]

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Emory's Yerkes National Primate Center houses 3,000 primates and is one of the few institutions left in the U.S. which still experiments on great apes. Yerkes has been criticized for primate housing conditions, addiction experiments, use of chimpanzees in viral infection experiments and refusal to deal publicly with animal testing issues. Emory's are considered to be among the most physically and psychologically destructive experiments being conducted today.

Professor Michael Davis leads research on early life stress and responses to fear and anxiety in rhesus monkeys. Dr. Davis takes infant monkeys away from their frantic mothers and straps them into full body restraint chairs inside of wooden boxes while repeatedly startling them with noise of up to 120 decibels (equivalent to the intensity of thunder, pneumatic drills and airplane engines). He then measures their heart rates while they struggle. His theory is that early maternal separation and induced torture will make monkeys permanently anxious. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Davis and Yerkes have spent over $5 million in government funds for fear and anxiety experiments. Another group, led by Yerkes director, Stuart Zola, studies early life stress on primates' cognitive development. Zola’s past experiments have involved cutting lesions in monkeys’ brains and tying them to restraint chairs. He now uses severe stress to impair, then measure cognitive deficits in monkeys. His groups also conduct drug addiction, fear and anxiety responses on monkeys who have been subjects of "early life stress" experiments. In 2005, these projects received more than $2.2 million in government funds. [5]

University of California, San Francisco

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has a long history of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. In September of 2005, UCSF paid $92,500 in fines to the USDA for over 60 violations. They included surgery on a ewe and her fetus without anesthesia or analgesia and leaving monkeys and lambs unmonitored after surgery. Also, forcing marmoset monkeys to breed continuously while nursing infants, causing health problems and high mortality. Monkeys also endured water deprivation, a craniotomy without painkillers and the injection of brain destroying chemicals in at least one monkey.

USCF also performs invasive brain experiments on cats and songbirds. Professor Michael Stryker's "monocular deprivation" experiments on the brains of new born kittens by sewing their eyes shut so that their brains develop without visual stimulation. In some experiments, he implants chemical pumps with access ports into their heads to inject drugs. After varying periods of time, he reopens their eyes and cuts off the tops of their skulls. He then measures brain activity while the kittens are in front of television screens. These government-funded "deprivation studies" on cats have been going on since the 1970s. According to the findings: "cats brains do not develop normally when their eyes are sewn shut." [6]

University of California, Davis

In 2005, UC-Davis was fined approximately $5,000 by the USDA over the deaths of seven monkeys, who were subjected to 115 degree temperatures for hours at a time after a thermostat malfunction. UC-Davis is home to the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), which houses approximately 5,000 primates. While many institutions are phasing out animal tests, the university is expanding its primate facilities and constructing a level-3 biocontainment lab to infect primates with deadly viruses. The university subjects more primates to painful and distressing experiments than any other U.S. university.

Over 2,000 primates were used by UC-Davis in 2004, reportedly more than any other university. While many institutions are phasing out animal research, UC-Davis is expanding theirs. They are constructing a bio containment lab in order to infect primates with deadly viral infections. They also used more than 500 dogs, 400 cats, 450 rabbits, and 250 horses for experiments in 2004. At the university's CNPRC Inhalation Facility, primates are exposed to pesticides, ozone, smoke, drugs, asbestos and other toxic inhalants. The facility has chambers specifically designed to force pregnant and infant monkeys to inhale tobacco smoke, although human studies have already demonstrated the effects of smoking on pregancy, which causes birth defects and lung development problems. [7]

University of Tulane, New Orleans

Tulane’s National Primate Research Center houses more than 6,000 primates at its breeding facilities and has plans to expand this number by an additional 8,000. Instead of trying to reduce primate research, Tulane has requested tens of millions of dollars to increase animal testing. In 2005 alone, Tulane received approximately 15 million dollars in government grants to expand its primate facilities, with many grants running on to 2010. Tulane plans to expand the construction of an $18.6 million dollar bio containment facility for chemical and biological warfare testing on primates. Tulane's Medical School, under Paul K. Whelton, still uses pigs to teach "Advanced Trauma Life Support" (ATLS). This testing involves cutting holes in their throats and opening their chests to expose their hearts. A high tech, non-animal simulator is available and used by other medical schools. [8]

Tulane, LSU & Hurricane Katrina

Thousands of animals were trapped in basement laboratories below sea level during Hurricane Katrina. Due to Tulane’s lack of disaster planning, thousands of rodents, dogs, rabbits, pigs and primates were euthanized or abandoned at its medical center and main campus. The staff saved only 175 cages containing expensive transgenic mice. Louisiana State University (LSU) also left thousands of lab animals trapped in their cages during Hurricane Katrina. All 8,000 animals, including mice, rats, dogs and monkeys, died. Thousands of terrified animals were abandoned in their cages as the waters rose and electricity failed. Many drowned and others died from lack of food and water. According to the dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Larry Hollier, some of the animals were euthanized. However, in news reports of the tragedy, researchers lamented only their "loss of data". [9]

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Harvard University houses over 2,000 primates used in experiments in its New England National Primate Research Center (NEPRC). In 2004, 600 of these animals were subjected to experiments. Harvard receives 10 mega-grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the effects of cocaine and heroin on monkeys.

In "Nonhuman Primate Models of Speed ball Abuse", Roger Spealman addicts monkeys to cocaine and heroin and measures their combined toxicity. In the "Nonhuman Primate Model of Cocaine Relapse and Treatment", Spealman addicts monkeys to cocaine and then withholds the drug to cause withdrawal. He then studies the effects of injecting chemicals and stress and how it affects the reintroduction of cocaine. In 2005, Spealman received over 1.25 million in taxpayer funding. Harvard has over 75 publications solely about monkeys exposed to cocaine. Harvard’s Alberto Palleroni studies "fear reactions" in monkeys exposed to aerial predators by exposing primates to trained raptors and studying their distress calls. This "research" is funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Not surprisingly, over 90% of Harvard's primates have at least one self-destructive or abnormal behavior and 20% have seriously self-destructive behavior. [10]

John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

In February of 2005, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) paid $25,000 in fines to the USDA for repeated AWA violations. Charges were pressed mainly due to Johns Hopkins refusal to correct chronic and repeated violations. According to USDA inspectors, animals were not being given anesthetics or proper veterinary care during painful experiments. At least 37 primates were kept in cages that were either too small or failed to meet basic, humane standards.

Researcher George Ricaurte spends approximately $1 million per year in taxpayer funded "illicit drug studies" on monkeys and baboons. In one "experiment", Ricaurte killed research animals by "accidentally" injecting them with speed (instead of ecstasy). Lloyd Minor studies "vestibular compensation", or how eye movement reacts to sudden high-speed head movements and rotations. He implants metal coils into the eyes of squirrel monkeys and surgically installs steel poles into their skulls; which lock into a special restraint chair. The chair is rapidly spun, exerting tremendous force on the immobilized monkey. In variations, Minor cuts out pieces of their brains to see if "lobotomized" monkeys respond differently to chair spinning. Minor doesn't even bother to pretend that his medieval torture has human applications (which he also conducts on chinchillas), however this project receives almost $500,000 each year from the NI on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. [11], [12]

Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

Four month PETA investigation of ONPRC. - 2007

OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) houses almost 4,000 primates and has used over 900 in painful experiments, including tobacco, nicotine and pregnancy studies. Eliot Spindel injects pregnant monkeys with nicotine and gives one group high doses of vitamin C (to prove that pregnant women can smoke if they take vitamin C). He then removes their fetuses by C-section and performs invasive "lung function" tests on babies, after which they are killed to conduct necropsies. [13] Dr. Spindel has conducted nicotine studies [14] on rhesus monkeys since 1978. See also Eliot Spindel.

OHSU researcher Miles Novy studies infection and preterm labor in pregnant rhesus monkeys. He implants chronic dwelling catheters in both mothers and fetuses and to record vitals and contractions. He then uses the catheters to inject various bacteria into the mother’s womb to induce infections. The monkeys are kept tethered in vests for months to protect the equipment while in excruciating pain from bladder and internal infections. In other experiments, infant monkeys are taken from their mothers to induce trauma so that researchers can study their neurotic behavior. In 2004, 248 sheep underwent painful procedures, which included "sexual orientation" studies. Charles Rosselli studies the brains homosexual sheep in order to find hormonal mechanisms behind homosexual tendencies so that they can be changed. [15], [16], [17]

On November 13th, 2007, PETA went public with the results of a four-month undercover investigation of Oregon Primate Research Center. [18]

University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Binge drinking" studies have been conducted for decades at UNC. At least 20 active grants from the NIH study alcohol abuse in rats and mice who are fed massive amounts of alcohol to induce liver damage, brain damage and death. Other grants cover addiction studies on cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs. According to addiction expert Dr. Vincent P. Dole of Rockefeller University:

"Some 60 years of offering alcohol to animals has produced no fundamental insights into the causes of the self-destructive behavior or even a convincing analogue of pathological drinking."

UNC continues to violate and ignore serious welfare violations. This includes seriously ill and injured animals denied veterinary care, post surgical pain medication and euthanasia, denial of food, water and sanitary housing. Also, over crowded conditions which have led to suffocation and cannibalism. The university has also amputated toes of animals for identification purposes. [19] In 2002, a PETA investigation documented rats being crudely beheaded with scissors without anesthesia, in undercover footage. [20]

Columbia University, New York, NY

PETA investigation of Columbia University - 2003

In 2003, a PETA investigation into Columbia University revealed a lack of basic veterinary care for monkeys and baboons. Sick and dying animals were simply left in their cages without care or painkillers after surgical procedures. The studies involving these animals did not even purport to have any scientific usefulness or validity. Topics under scientific investigation included: effects of stress on menstruation and effects of massive doses of cocaine and nicotine on pregnant monkeys. [21] Columbia psychiatrist Suzette Evans receives $500,000 per year in government grants to study the effects of cocaine and heroin on the menstrual cycles of monkeys. Her "experiments" involve the use of cruel and stressful restraint chairs as well as injections and blood draws. Columbia also uses more than 250 dogs per year for "painful and distressing tests".[22]

In 2004, complaints about Dr. Mehmet Oz’s dog experiments were cited in a report from an internal investigation into allegations of poor animal care made by Dr. Catherine Dell’Orto, a post-doctoral veterinarian. [23], [24] See also individual reports of Dr. Oz's dog experiments. [25] According to the report, "highly invasive and stressful experiments" on dogs were performed without a "humane end point." AWA violations included a litter of whelped puppies killed by painful cardiac injection:

"The screams of these puppies could be heard through closed doors. All of these puppies, lying in a plastic garbage bag, were killed in the presence of their litter mates."[26]

Subsequent applications for grants to the NIH by Dr. Oz have been denied.[27] In 2004, Columbia paid $2,000 in fines to the USDA. [28]

The vivisection "debate"

See also animal testing, section 6.

Other information

Facility information, progress reports & USDA-APHIS reports

For links to copies of a facility's U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Stop Animal Experimentation NOW!: Facility Reports and Information. This site contains listings for all 50 states, links to biomedical research facilities in that state and PDF copies of government documents where facilities must report their animal usage.

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.

Public relations

Americans for Medical Progress's (AMP) board of directors consists of senior executives and other representatives employed by the pharmaceutical and vivisection industries. Board members represent multinational, billion dollar corporations as well as universities and institutions receiving government grants for vivisection. Three of the universities represented by AMP board members, Tulane University, Harvard University, & Oregon Health and Science University (ONPRC), are on PETA's list of Ten Worst Laboratories.[29]

AMP runs media campaigns targeting animal rights, welfare and health advocacy groups. See also Americans for Medical Progress.


NIH funding & statistics

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest single funding agency in the U.S. for animal testing. [30] Tragically, the NIH spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year funding a bottomless pit of animal research duplication, that accomplishes nothing more than funneling tax dollars into nationally known laboratories. In 2000, the average grant was $291,502 for 29,855 research projects totaling over 8.7 billion dollars in grants for experiments involving dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, macaque monkeys, squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, rats and mice. There were an additional 651 projects involving other species. Many facilities receive well over $100 million yearly and some laboratories approach $200 million. A 2001 audit for 30 facilities revealed that approximately 56% received over 100 million per year from the NIH for animal research. The Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees (IACUC) who evaluate projects for approval, are heavily staffed by animal researchers, affiliated veterinarians and others with vested interests in animal research. [31] Sadly, the current system provides funding approval for virtually any project and has led to a steady climb in animal research. A conservative estimate for NIH funded animal testing is in excess of 8.5 billion annually. [32] See also National Institutes of Health.

Other agency funding & statistics

Other agencies funding animal testing include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Office of Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH). Government funded vivisection spends billions of dollars every year and kills millions of animals in an essentially unregulated industry. Furthermore, the government pays for the same experiments to be done over and over. In the fiscal year ending in 2005, these seven government agencies funded over 28,937 projects for experiments on 27 species, including monkeys, dogs, cats and rodents. These included 1200 separate projects (at up to $495,600,000) examining drug addiction. 778 projects studying "neural information processing" in 11 species racked up approximately $321,314,000. No experiment, however ridiculous, useless or painful; is illegal. The majority of animals used in experimentation receive absolutely no protection under current laws. Hundreds of institutions and thousands of individuals profit off of vivisection. Government funded animal testing costs U.S. taxpayers over $12 billion annually. [33] See also U.S. Government's War on Animals, section 5.

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, May 2009
  2. PETA’s ‘10 Worst Laboratories’ List, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed December 2008
  3. University of Wisconsin 10 Worst Laboratories List, PETA.org, accessed December 2008
  4. UW Pig Experiment Hurt by 'Anesthesia Problem', PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  5. Emory University, PETA.org, 10 Worst Laboratories, accessed December 2008
  6. University of California at San Francisco 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed December 2008
  7. University of California, Davis, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed December 2008
  8. Tulane University, PETA.org, 10 Worst Laboratories List, accessed December 2008
  9. PETA to USDA: Do Not Rebuild Animal Labs at Louisiana State University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org,accessed December 2008
  10. Harvard University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  11. Johns Hopkins University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  12. Johns Hopkins University labs slapped with hefty $25,000 USDA fine after watchdog group files complaint, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, August 9, 2005
  13. Help End Nicotine Experiments on Monkeys at OSHU: This is Thimble, In Defense of Animals, accessed September 2009
  14. Scientific Discovery: Eliot R. Spindel, Tobacco.org, March 2003
  15. Faculty Spotlight: Miles Novy, MD, Oregon Health & Sciences University, School of Medicine, December 2008
  16. Charles E. Roselli, Ph.D., OHSU, December 2007
  17. Oregon Health & Science University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  18. Justin Goodman PETA States Opinions on Primate Research in Oregon, Salem News, November 2007
  19. University of N. Carolina, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  20. Rick Weiss Lab animal abuses caught on PETA tape: Group circulates spy video to Congress, Washington Post, April 2002
  21. Columbia Cruelty, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  22. Columbia University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  23. Columbia University Fined for Cruel Puppy Killings, PETA.org, accessed March 2009
  24. Mary Beth Sweetland Letter to Elizabeth Goldentyer, DVM, USDA, PETA.org, November 30, 2004, pg 3-7
  25. Columbia University Fined for Cruel Puppy Killings: Features, PETA.org, accessed March 2009
  26. Mary Beth Sweetland Letter to Elizabeth Goldentyer, DVM, USDA, PETA.org, November 30, 2004, pg 1-3
  27. Columbia University Fined for Cruel Puppy Killings, PETA.org, accessed March 2009
  28. Columbia University, 10 Worst Laboratories, PETA.org, accessed February 2009
  29. Board of Directors, Americans for Medical Progress, accessed January 2011
  30. Michael A. Budkie The Animal Experimentation Scandal: An Audit of the National Institutes of Health Funding of Animal Experimentation: Introduction, SAEN, 2001
  31. Micheal A. Budkie An Audit of the NIH: Funding of Animal Experimentation: Audit Findings, SAEN, 2001
  32. Micheal A. Budkie An Audit of the NIH: Funding of Animal Experimentation: Summary, SAEN, 2001
  33. Animal Experimentation in the United States: Government Waste, Fact Sheets, SAEN, 2007

External articles

External resources