Most Outrageously Depraved


Mice with sense of smell wiped out are anxious

Inspired by their ability to damage the sense of smell through genetic tampering, a team of eight researchers at Columbia University and their collaborators conducted a study on male mice with an impaired sense of smell, suggesting that this might help treat anxiety in people. Their efforts earn them our Most Outrageously Depraved award for subjecting these poor mice to a range of tests that imposed “inescapable stress,” including hanging them upside down by their tails with adhesive tape for six minutes to see how long they would struggle before giving up.

Other tests included painful foot shocks, 24 hours of food-deprivation, and the infamous simulated drowning test where mice are put into a basin of water with no way out and no means of rest to see how long they try to swim before giving up. (Note – only the researchers know this is simulated – the mice really do think they might drown.) When all these trials were finished the mice were killed to study their brains.

The National Institute of Mental Health supported this absurd study, which opens by stating that “anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent fear in the absence of immediate threat,” and then proceeded to bombard these poor mice with all kinds of immediate threats. The American public paid almost $400,000 in 2012 for this study which refers to scores of prior studies that demonstrated how damaging the sense of smell in animals increased their anxiety.

The grant supporting this junk science is an “R37” category which NIH claims is awarded to “investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior and who are high likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner.” Yikes. We’d hate to see what the inferior “investigators” are doing.

What You Can Do

Please help IDA in speaking out about the millions of dollars that fund this sort of outrageously wasteful and terribly cruel research on animals. It’s time to put a stop to it. The US economy is in crisis, making this even more urgent to address.

Click here to contact your US Senators and Congressperson. Ask for much stricter oversight for granting money to animal research. Insist that all NIH-funded experiments comply with its stated mission “to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

You can also call your elected officials. Find their phone numbers, or call the US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.



Glinka ME, Samuels BA, Diodato A, Teillon J, Feng Mei D, Shykind BM, Hen R, Fleischmann A. “Olfactory deficits cause anxiety-like behaviors in mice .” J Neurosci. 2012 May 9;32(19):6718-25.