UCLA Addiction Researcher Says It Would Be Immoral To Turn Down $6 Million For Addiction Research.

From the LA Times today.

ALF's attacks on researchers may have drawn public scrutiny as to both the methods and goals of animal research.

This researcher says it would be immoral not to take tobacco money to do addiction research on teenagers and animals. Hummm... Dr. Mengele?

The UCLA Vice Chancellor of Research says, "Heck, we'll take money from anyone," in an amazing display of moral sickness.

At UCLA, a team of researchers is following this formula to produce what it hopes will be a groundbreaking study of addiction. So far, the scientists have proved that the issues of animal testing and tobacco-funded research are among the most contentious on university campuses.
UCLA professor Edythe London, the lead scientist on the three-year study, said it could discover new ways to help people quit smoking and lead to innovative treatments for other addictions.
The activists, who have also targeted other UCLA researchers, accused London of using "sadistic procedures" and "torturing nonhuman animals to death" in earlier studies. No one has been arrested in the attacks.

At the same time, Philip Morris' role in the study has drawn sharp criticism from anti-tobacco activists. They doubt that the company wants to help people stop smoking and question whether the study of teenage and monkey brains could help Philip Morris design a more addictive cigarette.

London said that Philip Morris would not have any oversight or other involvement in the study. The suggestion that the company might use her findings to make cigarettes more addictive is "twisted," she said. "That is not something we ever considered," she said. "The representatives of Philip Morris were very sincere."

Roberto Peccei, vice chancellor for research at UCLA, said the company's motives were immaterial.

"I have no idea why Philip Morris decides to fund this anti-smoking research, but they do," he said. "As long as we do not feel that we are interfered with and that the research is done with the highest intentions, what's in the mind of the funder is irrelevant."

"Edythe is a very good researcher, and frankly I'm shocked she would take the money," said Michael Cummings, a senior researcher at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. "I think she's naive."

Philip Morris, which is paying for 23 research projects at seven UC campuses, supports the UCLA study as part of the company's effort "to reduce youth tobacco use and increase scientific understanding in the field," said William Phelps, a Philip Morris spokesman.
He said the company has no intention of using the results or teenagers' brain scans to develop more addictive cigarettes. "We would never do that," he said.

Phelps declined to comment on the use of animals in the study.
Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who backed efforts by an activist to obtain a copy of the grant proposal, said UC has no business accepting money from tobacco companies.

At UCLA, as at other University of California campuses, faculty members are free to accept money from any source. The only restriction is that studies involving animal and human subjects be approved by university review committees to ensure that they meet standards for the treatment of their subjects, university officials said.

Philip Morris invited London to submit a grant proposal, which she did, said Carol Stogsdill, senior executive director of UCLA's media relations office. The company awarded London $6 million to establish the Adolescent Smoking Cessation Center at the school and conduct the study on teenage and animal brains.

UCLA has attempted to keep quiet about London's study out of fear of attacks on its researchers.

In response to a subsequent Public Records Act request from The Times, UCLA provided more details but released virtually no information on the animal studies, citing the danger to its staff if specifics were made public.

In interviews, London and Peccei discussed some aspects of the study, which will include research on rats as well as monkeys.

The third phase will focus on animals. Researchers will administer liquid nicotine to adolescent and adult vervet monkeys, London said. The monkeys will undergo different behavioral tests and have PET (positron emission tomography) scans of their brains. Eventually, six to 12 monkeys will be killed and their brains studied, Peccei said.

After the first attack on her house, London took the unusual step of standing up to the activists.

She wrote an opinion piece for The Times contending that animal studies are a necessary part of research, saying it would "be immoral" to turn down the Philip Morris money and "decline an opportunity to increase our knowledge about addiction."

"It's very important to do animal studies," she said. "The animal studies are very focused on the effects of nicotine during development and the ability of the brain to do its work." richard.paddock@latimes.com

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