Animal rights group calls for investigation into Sanford scientist

An animal rights organization on Tuesday filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture asking for an investigation of a scientist at Sanford Research.

The Stop Animal Exploitation Now Complaint was filed by the group after obtaining a document showing that Shanta Messerli’s privileges to perform animal experiments had been permanently revoked.

A letter from Sanford Research to the USDA’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare states that Messerli first had his privileges revoked in January 2021. After an appeal to the Sanford Research Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) , his privileges were restored to perform two specific experiments under direct supervision.

But the letter, signed by David Pearce, president of innovation and research for Sanford’s global clinic, says Messerli received a subsequent report of non-compliance while conducting an experiment with funding from the Department of Health. defense.

“After a full review of the reported non-compliance, the IACUC has revoked Dr. Messereli’s (sic) ability to continue working under the Oversight and Management Plan,” the letter reads. “The IACUC received an appeal of this decision and dismissed the appeal at a convened committee meeting by majority vote.”

The USDA has the authority to regulate animal research laboratories. Sanford Research’s self-reported letter to the USDA was dated May 2, 2022.

More health news from Sanford:Sanford Opens Orthopedic Hospital on Main Campus in Sioux Falls

Sanford Health responded to the complaint Tuesday afternoon.

“Sanford Health is committed to providing high quality healthcare to the patients it serves,” the statement read. it concerns medical courses, research and training.

According to Sanford’s staff biography, Messerli holds a doctorate in neuroscience from Perdue University. She previously taught biology at Bridgewater State University. Her area of ​​research at Sanford focuses on molecule inhibitors in breast and brain cancers.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now obtained the letter through a Freedom of Information Act request. The letter is opaque and offers no information about the experiment Messerli was conducting, or what species of animal.

Michael Budkie, the group’s co-founder, said he gets about a thousand FOIA reports per year from laboratory animal research. He said if the group sees five out of a thousand revoked animal testing privileges, that’s a lot, meaning Messerli’s revoking is a rare occurrence.

For it to happen twice is even rarer, he said.

“It’s kind of a last resort,” he said.

He added that Sanford’s report is also unusual because it contains no information about the experiments being performed or the type of animal. These are additional reasons why the group requested a USDA investigation.

“This report wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a serious issue,” Budkie said.

The USDA did not immediately respond.

Comments are closed.