March 11, 2016 - Scientific research that relies on animal models has been absolutely vital to major advancements in medical knowledge and treatment. This research saves lives and also improves the quality of life for both humans and animals.
Such experiments—including those conducted with primates that share many physiological characteristics with humans—help scientists identify new ways to prevent, treat and cure disease. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are engaged in this type of research. Those who conduct work involving monkeys have made discoveries that have helped us better understand the sensory, cognitive and motor systems of the brain and how primates and people see, think about and move in the world around them.
We take our role as caretakers of these animals extremely seriously. All animal research at UT Austin is thoroughly monitored and subject to stringent federal laws and regulations as well as university policies. Additionally, UT Austin is accredited by AAALAC International, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science and conducts regular site visits.
Contrary to reports in the media and in a student-sponsored online petition, primates are not euthanized simply because an experiment has ended and there is no further research to conduct. At this time there are no animals awaiting a decision as each primate is on its own timeline and research studies can last for years. UT Austin has long been open to transferring animals to retirement facilities when appropriate. We have done so multiple times during the past decade and as recently as last September. We work closely with veterinarians and research scientists to identify facilities that can suitably care for primates that have been involved in biomedical research.
In most cases, however, our primates are not able to be retired. They are often involved in multiple experiments that require euthanization so researchers can obtain additional physiological information and perform direct tissue analysis. These aspects of the study are an integral part of the experiment; they are essential to fully understanding the physiological and behavioral results and advancing knowledge. In this way, we are able to study the animals’ brains in ways that would not be possible in humans.
As a public university, The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to responsibly conducting scientific research that can improve the world. We are also dedicated to fostering knowledge in our students and encouraging them to challenge ideas and assumptions. So we understand our students’ desire to engage in this discussion, and we have worked to answer their questions.
For more information, contact: University Communications, 512-471-3151