Mundane but important facts about the peer-rearing animal protocol review

The recently approved experiments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison involving rhesus monkey “peer-rearing”, a form of early life stress, have raised concerns among some academic ethicists.  In particular, Lori Gruen, a Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, has posted two blog entries about the study arguing that the study “is not ethically defensible” on the grounds it violates the spirit of the Animal Welfare Act, the model is not appropriate, and there are better ways to achieve the same benefit. She also criticizes the approval process for the protocol. I want to thank Professor Gruen for her attention to this issue. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the research, we can agree that it raises important ethical issues that deserve an open and informed discussion. Here, I wish to further that discussion by responding to Gruen’s concerns.


Welcome to our website.  Use of animals in research is a longstanding practice, with both adherents and detractors.  Choice of perspective on this issue is up to each of us, but always should be informed by facts. Stories about animal research are a good source of facts.  Under the heading “Animal Research in the News”, we link to press releases and published articles that connect animal experiments with outcomes, and give the sources of the story should you wish to find more information.  In “Animal Research Background” we provide you with links to additional information on the topic. Animal research is practiced with multiple levels of oversight.  You can get an idea of just what this means for UW–Madison by looking at “UW Animal Research Links”  and “Federal Laws/Guidelines”.  We also provide you with names of press contacts for issues related to animal research at UW–Madison. Finally, we acknowledge that …

Ethics of non-human primate research at UW-Madison

The following question has been posed: Is experimenting on monkeys ethical?  Let’s start by considering an even more ethically stringent question: Is experimenting on humans ethical?  The answer to the latter question is, obviously, sometimes yes and sometimes no. For human subjects, how do we identify those studies that are ethical?  At UW–Madison, and nationally, this is accomplished by requiring that any proposed study be evaluated and approved by a review board before it can be started.  In other words, the decision is made on a case-by-case basis.