A former University of Washington researcher claims the university is keeping a lid on her findings.
Kathy Bentson worked at the UW during the 2000s and received a National Institutes of Health grant, but she said the university suppressed part of her research.
“Our first goal really was to try and figure out which monkeys seem to be most resilient and which ones were most vulnerable,” she said.
The first part of Bentson’s research appeared in the 2010 American Journal of Primatology. She said the second part of her research has not been released. She believes it’s because those findings would show certain monkeys used in research were needlessly suffering distress. She believes the university tried to keep the research from going public in part because it is in the process of constructing a new animal research facility.
“If they see findings that may impact the way they do business, and they don’t want those findings to see the light of day,” she said. “They are able to keep that from happening.”
In a written statement, a University of Washington spokesperson Tina Mankowski said:
“Ms. Bentson and her colleagues did publish a paper, however, the data that Ms. Bentson claims is being suppressed is based on data the Primate Center has determined is unreliable. The data do not meet accepted standards for data collection both in the experimental design as well as concerns due to her pressuring observers to alter their findings.”
Bentson denied that allegation.
“I had no vested interest in ‘pressuring observers to alter their findings’”, she said.
As for the data, Bentson said the same data was good enough to publish in 2010. She said the second part of her research would have only expanded on what was originally in print, adding in the gender, species, and rearing condition differences for the monkeys who exhibited disturbing behavior.
“I watched monkeys, some of whom would self-bite, sometimes would injure themselves,” she said.
Animal testing at the UW has been in the headlines for years, but mainly due to protests from animal rights activists. Dr. Bentson said she disagrees with those activists and believes testing on animals serves a purpose.
Bentson said she’s hired an intellectual properties lawyer, but not to sue the university. She said she wants to have her research made public.