PETA Uproots Monkey Experimenter Elisabeth Murray’s Twisted ‘Family Tree’

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5 min read

Elisabeth Murray has been tormenting and killing monkeys since the ’80s. Experimenters in her laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Maryland have carved out sections of monkeys’ skulls, permanently damaged their brains, and subjected them to a variety of torments. Murray’s trainees scare caged animals with fake snakes and spiders, blow puffs of air directly into their eyes, and restrain them so that they can’t move for hours on end.

Why have these pointless experiments continued for decades? How do young, new scientists become so indifferent to the pain and suffering of animals? The answer is speciesism, a toxic, human-supremacist worldview that students learn from the people around them. In academic and government science programs, the prevailing thought is that animals are there to be exploited. If your mentor tortures animals, then you torture animals. In time, you teach your students to do the same. This creates a multigenerational “family” of people (sometimes called an “academic genealogy” or a “neurotree”) who are willing to do unspeakable things.

‘The Parents’ Who Taught Elisabeth Murray How to Torture Animals in Laboratories

  • Joe Dan Coulter was Murray’s first animal torment “mentor.” He studied spinal neurological pathways in monkeys, rats, pigeons, and cats. He also injected substances into animals’ brains to identify cells and pathways.
  • Mortimer Mishkin taught Murray how to cause brain damage in monkeys during her studies at NIH. He was known for surgically inducing damage to the hippocampus in order to produce memory impairment in monkeys. He also performed lobotomies on baby monkeys.

Mishkin has been on PETA’s radar for decades. He performed neurosurgery on Billy, one of the monkeys abused in PETA’s landmark Silver Spring monkeys case. He placed Billy’s head in an apparatus to hold it steady while he drilled through his skull. Then, using tungsten microelectrodes, he measured the activity that occurred in Billy’s brain when experimenters stroked different parts of his body with a brush or cotton swab.

Science has advanced by leaps and bounds since Murray and Mishkin first started their horrible experiments on monkeys. But rather than learning newer, more humane, and more human-relevant methods, Murray just keeps doing the same cruel and archaic experiments over and over again. These monstrosities have not led to a single treatment or cure for humans.

Elizabeth Murray academic genealogy neurotree family tree

Elisabeth Murray neurotree

‘Children’: The Poisoned Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Elisabeth Murray has taught her bloody craft to at least 21 new people, ensuring that the animal torment continues:

  • Heather C. Lasseter worked as a research assistant for Murray at NIMH. She went on to addict rats to cocaine by pumping it directly into their veins. In one of her experiments, cocaine was pumped into rats’ jugular veins through tubes implanted in their heads. She works at Cohen Veterans Bioscience.
  • Philip Putnam worked as a research assistant in Murray’s lab at NIMH. Now, he cuts monkeys’ heads open, implants electrodes in their brains, and screws posts into their skulls. He works as a postdoctoral associate at Yale University.
  • Alicia Izquierdo worked for Murray’s lab at NIMH. Today at UCLA, she addicts rats to drugs and alcohol.
  • Benjamin M. Basile trained at NIMH. He still works with Murray, injecting toxins into monkeys’ brains.
  • Cindy Buckmaster also worked at NIMH with Murray. Currently at Transnetyx, Buckmaster is a vocal defender of animal experimentation. She has often spoken publicly to excuse just about anything done to animals. However, even she was disturbed by what she saw in Murray’s lab. She now refers to the way animals were treated as the “dark age of detachment,” saying, “I found some quality of life stuff, some areas of improvement …. [T]he folks who cared for the animals were suffering from old school philosophy of detachment. … When you ask human beings to behave like they aren’t human it doesn’t end well.”
  • Yogita Chudasama trained at NIMH with Murray. She is now director of the Rodent Behavioral Core there. She took what she learned from Murray and causes brain damage in mice and rats.
  • Sonia Goulet trained at NIMH with Murray. Currently at Université Laval, Ville de Québec, Québec, Canada, she took the torture tools she learned from Murray and now causes brain damage in rats.
  • Robert R. Hampton trained at NIMH. He now causes brain damage in monkeys at Emory University.
  • Martine Meunier trained at NIMH. Now, she drugs and restrains monkeys for cruel experiments at Université de Lyon in France.
  • Maia Pujara trained at NIMH. She spends her days finding different ways to damage monkey brains.
  • Sarah Rhodes trained at NIMH. She’s still right by Murray’s side today, terrifying and killing monkeys.
  • Peter Rudebeck was a research fellow at NIMH. Now, he injects compounds into monkeys’ brains to make them age faster and suffer from dementia.
  • Lisa M. Saksida trained at NIMH. Currently at Western University’s The Brain and Mind Institute, she starves and drugs mice to make them aggressive.
  • Susheel Vijayraghavan did a post-doc at NIMH. He cuts monkeys’ heads open in London these days.
  • Peter M. Kaskan trained at NIMH. Today, he still works for a laboratory tormenting monkeys at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
  • Mark Baxter trained at NIMH. Now at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, he does some work with humans, but he also conducts experiments similar to those he did with Murray, injecting chemicals into monkeys’ brains to manipulate their brain activity.
  • Timothy J. Bussey trained at NIMH. Currently, he starves mice into aggression in a lab in England.
  • Vincent Costa works for Oregon Health & Science University. He did his post-doc at NIMH, recording the brain activity of rhesus macaques as they solved tasks.
  • Tianming Yang worked as a research scientist at NIMH. He is now at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he injects viruses into monkeys’ brains to manipulate their behavior.

Help End This Cycle: No More Experiments on Animals!

Take action below to end Murray’s experiments now, and then urge NIH to adopt PETA’s Research Modernization Deal, a comprehensive roadmap for replacing the use of animals in experiments with human-relevant methods.

Take Action Now
monkey named wilfork used in NIH experiments
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