“New York University is absolutely committed to scientific research. We regard scientific research - which advances knowledge and improves human health - as a central part of our mission. We are proud of the work of our scientific researchers, and we are proud of the history of achievement in science by those associated with the University.
We are particularly proud of how the sciences have flourished at NYU over the past 10 years. NYU biomedical researchers are doing important research on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. For example, our Center for Neural Science is a world leader in neurological research.
Presently, there is much critically important scientific research that cannot be conducted without the use of animals. At NYU, each and every experiment is reviewed by a standing committee to ensure that animals are used in research only when no other alternative is available. The use of animals for scientific research is subject to tight government regulation, and we are committed to the highest standards of animal welfare.
There is strong popular support for scientific research on our campus and beyond. There are also those — inside our community and outside — opposed to scientific research involving animals. The University believes in their right to hold and express their views. In fact, last fall we co-sponsored a forum on the issue with a student animal rights group. It is a fundamental value in the academy that issues can be debated in a free, open and civil way.
No one has to hang a banner on a side of a building to be heard on an issue at this campus. The activists choose publicity stunts like the one yesterday because they are not interested in reasoned debate. Yesterday’s stunt endangered the lives of the participants, it endangered those below them, it required emergency workers to respond and be diverted from other potentially serious situations. The disregard the people involved in the stunt showed for their lives and the lives of others frankly seems entirely consistent with the disregard the entire movement has for human life. Because if scientific research stops, people are going to get sick and die. If cancer victims and heart attack victims and victims of infectious diseases could climb the side of a building and unfurl a banner, I have no doubt it would say “Scientists: Keep up the Good Work, and Don’t Let the Activists Win. Our Lives and Health Depend on You.”
We are particularly troubled by an effort - typical of the activists’ tactics - by outside animal rights groups to intimidate and harass our researchers. In recent months, neuroscientist Lynne Kiorpes has been targeted. Dr. Kiorpes’ lab is committed to finding the causes of amblyopia, a vision disorder that affects 2.3 million children in the U.S. alone. Her research has been funded by the National Eye Institute (the part of the National Institutes of Health charged with battling eye disease and vision disorders) for 14 years, a clear indication of its scientific and biomedical importance.
Her record as a researcher is exemplary and her work is held in high regard throughout the world. It should be understood that the University will not permit the work of her laboratory or others to be disrupted in any way.
The activists are waging a political campaign complete with stunts and strong-arm tactics. They pick out certain scientists and wage a campaign of intimidation. They misportray scientists as cruel and uncaring. They lie about facts. In reality, they are not looking for a discussion of how science should be conducted or what techniques should be used or what are the best scientific avenues. One can only assume they avoid this kind of conversation because they understand that they cannot win their arguments on the merits. And the small degree of support they have would seem to confirm that.”