Letter of support from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

“We are writing in regard to the ongoing attacks by numerous entities, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and Ruth Dekker, MD, on the research program of Professor Ned Kalin. We are the senior leadership of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), the nation’s premier professional society in brain, behavior, and psychopharmacology research.

“The purpose of this letter is to convey the position of ACNP that research using nonhuman primate animal models is essential to deepening the understanding of human health, including psychiatric disorders, and must be protected as such. Psychiatric disorders are among the most common and disabling illnesses; twenty-five percent of the population, including children, suffer from psychiatric disorders and suicide is among the leading causes of death in adults and adolescents. It is ACNP’s mission to advance the understanding of the causes, prevention and treatment of diseases of the nervous system including psychiatric, neurological, behavioral and addictive disorders. The research work of our esteemed members includes clinical and basic science research and makes use of a wide array of models that include humans, rodents, and nonhuman primates. Studies using nonhuman primates are just a small portion of all animal studies undertaken and are only conducted when all other models, animal and otherwise, have proven to be insufficient. The use of nonhuman primates is subject to comprehensive and exacting examination by federal review panels and institutional review boards.

“Research conducted in Dr. Kalin’s laboratory is critical to furthering our understanding of the risk factors underlying the development of anxiety and depression. His work combines molecular, animal and human models, and imaging studies to identify mechanisms underlying anxiety and affective disorders. Findings from his developmental primate studies point to novel molecular targets as the basis for interventions aimed at altering the expression of specific amygdala neuroplasticity genes. Dr. Kalin has a superb record of extramural NIH funding where scrutiny of ethical treatment of animals is required for approval. Also, his publications are highly cited in journals that include Nature, Science, PNAS, Nature Neuroscience and Journal of Neuroscience, where again reviewers are required to comment on the proper and ethical treatment of animals used in the research. In addition to both NIH and publication review of animal use in Dr. Kalin’s research, the University of Wisconsin IACUC has approved and agrees that Dr. Kalin’s research meets the highest standards of animal care and use in experimental protocols. As measures of his respect in the field, he is a fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), he has served as President of the International Society of Psychoneuro- endocrinology (ISPNE) and is the current President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry (SOBP). He will receive the 2015 Anna Monika award, from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), for his outstanding achievements.

“The campaigns waged against the University of Wisconsin by ALDF, PETA and the others are designed to undermine the university’s mission to pursue excellence in research. We urge the administration of the University of Wisconsin to stand firm against these attacks against a distinguished investigator carrying out research with nonhuman primates according to NIH and IACUC approved standards of care and experimentation.”

— Raquel Gur, president, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Read the letter here. (PDF)