PETA Calls For Shake-Up of President’s ‘BRAIN Initiative’ Committee

Committee Dominated by Animal Experimenters Will Hurt Animals and Hinder Progress for Humans, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2013

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382 

Washington — After learning that 16 of 17 members appointed to lead President Barack Obama’s ambitious $100 million Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative are people who experiment on monkeys, cats, mice, and other animals, PETA submitted a request to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis S. Collins and his Advisory Council urging them to take immediate action to remedy the dramatic bias among the Working Group members.

As PETA points out in its letter, the goal of the project is to offer insight into human brain function and behavior, and NIH states that groups such as the one tasked with leading the BRAIN Initiative should have “Balanced Expertise [and] Points of View.”

“It’s mind-boggling that our nation’s leading human brain research program is being led almost entirely by people—including the committee co-chair—who drill holes into monkeys’ and other animals’ skulls instead of by progressive scientists who actually do research with humans,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is urging NIH to reform this committee before its members’ limited perspective hinders developments in human health and also costs animals their lives.”

Ethical, human-based research methods—such as advanced imaging and other technology—have offered insights into the brain that are not possible through experiments on animals, which have consistently failed to find cures for human brain disorders because of fundamental biological differences In a recent Reuters article on the BRAIN Initiative, Eli Lilly and Co’s vice president of neuroscience research Dr. Christer Nordstedt commented “We’ve been handicapped by the fact that we have been studying diseases in animals that don’t really exist in animals. Mice don’t get depression. They don’t get schizophrenia. They don’t get Alzheimer’s disease.”

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