With the help of fellow universities and University of Wisconsin students, the UW Primate Center is continuing to produce innovative research.
<p>According to Joseph Kemnitz, director of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, the center is currently working on several areas of research.
<p>”This is a wonderful time to be director,” Kemnitz said.
<p>Kemnitz said current research is seeking to improve understanding of Parkinson’s disease by studying stem cells. The center is also looking at other conditions such as juvenile diabetes, blood disorders and metabolic disorders, among others.
<p>Kemnitz said UW students have played an integral role in a large portion of the research.
<p>”There are quite a few undergrads who do research,” Kemnitz said, adding that some work as hourly employees. Others volunteer to gain research experience by doing assistance work and independent projects largely of their own design, he said.
<p>”Often times [student projects] lead to publications, which can be productive and helpful for career development,” Kemnitz said.
<p>Kemnitz feels UW’s situation is unique because its primate center is located right on campus along with a broad base of biological-science departments such as the medical and veterinary schools.
<p>”Other primate centers are located way off campus, making it more difficult for students to interact,” Kemnitz said.
<p>The UW Primate Center is also distinctive because of its library and information collection.
<p>”UW is regarded as the international [informational] center of primatology, and for that we are proud,” Kemnitz said.
<p>All of the research facilities located at universities across the country collaborate with each other, each adding its own unique specialized results, according to the criteria set by the funding body, the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.
<p>”Because we are part of a national program, we have a quite a bit of interaction (with the other centers) to make sure our programs are coordinated,” Kemnitz said. “The other directors and I get together in person two or three times a year and speak on the phone monthly.”
<p>Not all feel that animal research is fair to the animals used in them.
<p>The Madison Coalition for Animal Rights is a student organization at UW that uses education and active campaigning to advocate for humane animal conditions.
<p>UW sophomore Jessica Chavez joined the organization at the beginning of the fall semester. She believes the primates used are just like humans and should be treated the same way.
<p>”I think we need to step back and look at what we’re doing,” Chavez said, adding that there are many unnecessary experiments that could be accomplished in other ways, such as using human subjects. “Researchers should not be so quick to [use] primates in research.”
<p>Kemnitz believes people have the right to disagree with animal research. Many people believe primate research plays an important role in bettering human and animal health.
<p>”A federal law requires that before any research can be done, a review of the appropriate and humane use of the animals must be done,” Kemnitz said. “Annual progress reports are usually required, too.”