USDA subverts Animal Welfare Act in whistleblower protection case
ACTION is part of Agency's long-standing pattern of failure to uphold the law.
|Chronology - Retaliation Case of Jan Moor-Jankowski,M.D.|
A Report By In Defense of Animals, August 14 1996
Jan Moor-Jankowski, M.D., New York University Medical Center (NYUMC) researchprofessor and director of the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgeryin primates (LEMSIP), is appointed by NYUMC Dean and Provost Dr. Sol Farberto the NYUMC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Dr. Moor-Jankowski protests to the NYUMC IACUC the lack of a treatment roomand the lack of equipment at Lanza/Nelson Laboratory of NYUMC, where NYU'sDepartment of Environmental Medicine is located. The Lanza laboratory ishome base to NYUMC researcher Ron Wood who conducts crack-cocaine inhalationstudies on primates. The deficiencies in facilities and equipment was broughtto Dr. Moor-Jankowski's attention by LEMSIP veterinary personnel, who werecalled upon to provide emergency medical services to Dr. Wood's monkeys.
8 February 1989
Dr. Moor-Jankowski sends a memorandum to Dr. Malhan, Director Div. AnimalLaboratory Science, NYUMC, informing him of LEMSIP's emergency assistancefor Dr. Wood's program, and forwards a report of the same date by LEMSIP'sclinical veterinarian Dr. Douglas Cohn highlighting the difficulties heencountered because of lack of a treatment room and of appropriate equipmentat the Lanza Laboratory. That information was forwarded by me also to thechairman of the Department of Environmental Medicine, but to no avail.
Dr. Ron Wood sends letter to Dr. Moor-Jankowski thanking him for LEMSIP'sprovision of veterinary care to his animals.
As a member of the NYUMC IACUC, Dr. Moor-Jankowski calls for the institutionalinvestigat
ion of the excessive water deprivation of Dr. Wood's monkeys.
Jan Moor-Jankowski, M.D., New York University Medical Center (NYUMC) researchprofessor and director of the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgeryin primates (LEMSIP), learns about monkey deaths in laboratory of Ron Wood,who conducts crack-smoking experiments on primates. As a member of NYUMC'sanimal research oversight committee, Dr. Moor-Jankowski requests a fullinvestigation. Over the course of the next year, Dr. Moor-Jankowski's effortsto ensure full investigation and disclosure of the events surrounding themonkey deaths are repeatedly blocked by the NYUMC administration, eventuallyculminating in his resignation in protest from the NYUMC Institutional AnimalCare and Use Committee (IACUC) over the handling of the Wood affair.
NYUMC administration removes money obtained by Dr. Moor-Jankowski to buildnew chimpanzee housing from LEMSIP's discretionary account and places thefunds in NYUMC's operating account. LEMSIP is prevented from using the funds,and dozens of LEMSIP chimpanzees are forced to live for years in cages toosmall even to lie down, while LEMSIP is financially crippled and unableto build new cages that comply with federal regulations.
July 8, 1994
NYUMC Associate Dean David Scotch accuses Dr. Moor-Jankowski of financialimproprieties. The alleged financial improprieties are never described ordisclosed, despite repeated written requests by Dr. Moor-Jankowski's attorney.Dean Scotch also repeatedly refused to meet with Dr. Moor-Jankowski andhis attorney to discuss the allegations.
August 16, 1994
Dr. Moor-Jankowski resigns from the NYUMC animal research oversight committeein protest of the university's efforts to cover up the scandal surroundingthe monkey crack-smoking experiments of Ron Wood. That scandal eventuallyresulted in formal USDA charges against NYUMC for 378 violations of theAnimal Welfare Act.
July - December 1994
NYUMC administration blocks the transfer of U.S. Army funds for the retirementof LEMSIP chimpanzees to a facility in Texas. The move further exacerbatesthe problem of dozens of chimpanzees housed at LEMSIP in too small cagesthat do not meet federal standards, and also helps to financially crippleLEMSIP, since animal care costs would have been greatly reduced at the Texasfacility.
Dr. Moor-Jankowski verbally registers with the USDA a complaint of beingretaliated against for his efforts to secure full investigation of the RonWood animal abuse scandal and to correct the deficiencies in primate housingat LEMSIP.
NOTE: Retaliation against any facility employee for "blowing the whistle"is a violation of the federal regulations promulgated under the Animal WelfareAct.
July 29, 1994
Scotch writes to USDA and attempts to register LEMSIP separately as a researchfacility. This occurs after Dr. Moor-Jankowski had repeatedly complainedto USDA officials about NYUMC's withholding of funds to upgrade LEMSIP'scaging, and shortly before Dr. Moor-Jankowski resigned in protest from theIACUC over NYUMC's handling of the Wood affair. If LEMSIP is registeredseparately and seen by USDA as an independent, self-contained entity withits own authority to approve capital projects like upgrading chimpanzeehousing, then USDA could conceivably penalize LEMSIP for its cage size violations,and not NYUMC. This would occur in spite of the fact that NYUMC was responsiblefor the violations in the first place.
Dr. Moor-Jankowski receives the William J. Brennan, Jr. Defense of Freedomaward from the Libel Defense Resource Center for his successful defenseof the landmark First Amendment case, Immuno vs. Moor-Jankowski. NYUMC refusesto publicize Dr. Moor-Jankowski's receipt of this distinctive honor, despitethe institution's policy requiring research professors to notify the publicrelations department of publications, awards, and distinctions for publicitypurposes.
NYUMC administration informs Dr. Moor-Jankowski that the university wantsto divest itself of LEMSIP and may transfer the laboratory to the highly-regardedAaron Diamond AIDS Research Foundation Center (ADARC), a leading AIDS researchcenter.
NYUMC administration undercuts discussions with ADARC over LEMSIP's futureby surreptitiously entering into negotiations with Frederick Coulston, aninfamous chimpanzee experimenter. Like NYUMC, Coulston's own facility wouldbe cited in 1995 for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Dr.Coulston's view of chimpanzees as models for toxic chemical experimentswas controversial even in scientific circles.
April 11, 1995
USDA files formal charges against NYU for 378 violations of the Animal WelfareAct relating to Dr. Wood's experiments. Violations include severe waterdeprivation of monkeys and veterinary negligence resulting in the deathsof three monkeys. The charges upheld allegations made by Dr. Moor-Jankowskiabout transgressions of federal law in Wood's laboratory.
Dr. Moor-Jankowski is elected to the prestigious French National Academyof Medicine to the chair previously held by the late Nobel prize-winnerLinus Pauling. Once again, NYUMC refuses to publicize Dr. Moor-Jankowski'slatest and most distinguished honor.
June 25, 1995
Dr. Moor-Jankowski files a written complaint with the USDA charging thatthe NYUMC administration's withholding of money earmarked for LEMSIP expansionhas resulted in chimpanzees there being held in "inhumanely small cages"in violation of federal law. Dr. Moor-Jankowski alleges that the withholdingof funds by NYUMC constituted retaliation against him as a whistleblowerin the Wood monkey scandal. It would take USDA over seven months to respondto Dr. Moor-Jankowski's complaint. The agency would "apologize forthe length of time it has taken us to acknowledge your letter" andclaim "your file was apparently misplaced and was only recently relocated."
July 7, 1995
USDA files charges against the Coulston Foundation for multiple violationsof the Animal Welfare Act, including housing chimpanzees in too small cagesand negligence resulting in chimpanzees cooking overheating to death andmonkeys dying of thirst . Coulston will repeatedly attempt to deny responsibilityfor the charges, despite the fact that all violations cited by USDA wereentirely the responsibility of his foundation.
August 8, 1995
Acting Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Patricia Jensen informs NYU presidentL. Jay Oliva that the USDA is investigating NYU for potential violationsof federal regulations which state, "No facility employee, Committeemember, or laboratory personnel shall be discriminated against or be subjectedto any reprisal for reporting violations of any regulations or standardsunder the [Animal Welfare] Act." Asst. Secretary Jensen advises Oliva:"If you anticipate selling LEMSIP, you may wish to delay negotiationsuntil the investigation is completed."
August 9, 1995
NYU dismisses Dr. Moor-Jankowski without notice or cause, and hires an armedguard to prevent Dr. Moor-Jankowski from entering the laboratory he foundedand ran successfully for 30 years. NYUMC also fails to forward Dr. Moor-Jankowski'smail and telephone calls, resulting in his forced retirement as Editor-in-Chiefof the Journal of Medical Primatology, which he co-founded in 1971. LouDinetz, a decorated Vietnam Veteran and business manager, and LEMSIP AssistantDirector is also fired and barred from the premises. NYU further announcesthat LEMSIP will be transferred to the Coulston Foundation, which will takeownership of the laboratory by March 15, 1996. NYU claims that its decisionwas based on the best interests of the chimpanzees, but neglects to mentionthe formal USDA charges that TCF is facing for multiple violations of theAnimal Welfare Act. Nor is mention made of why the laboratory is not beingtransferred to the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Foundation Center. AaronDiamond Foundation secretary and treasurer Vincent McGee would later tellthe Chronicle of Higher Education "We had very little cooperation fromNYU in terms of getting information. They were discouraging a real conversationabout what was involved . . . . During all this, NYU was talking to Coulston,and he was offered a better financial incentive." USDA would laterinform In Defense of Animals that NYU is paying Coulston $1.9 million totake over LEMSIP -- $700,000 more than it mentioned as a possibility toADARC. The funds NYU plans to give to Coulston are likely the monies theadministration withheld from Dr. Moor-Jankowski for facility improvementsat LEMSIP and retirement of chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Texas.
NOTE: Transferring LEMSIP to the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research FoundationCenter would have made much more sense. The foundation is based in New Yorkand would have carried on LEMSIP's AIDS research. ADARC has world-renownedAIDS researchers with numerous NIH grants; the Coulston Foundation has noinvestigator-initiated NIH grants. The one striking difference between thetwo foundations, however, is that Aaron Diamond would have kept Dr. Moor-Jankowskiand Mr. Dinetz as LEMSIP administrators , whereas the New Mexico-based CoulstonFoundation, known more for toxic chemical experiments than infectious diseaseresearch, would not. In Immuno vs. Moor-Jankowski, Dr. Coulston filed anaffidavit in support of Immuno and against Dr. Moor-Jankowski and the scoresof media, environmental and animal protection groups that filed "friendof the court" briefs on Dr. Moor-Jankowski's behalf.
August 28, 1995
Congressman James T. Walsh and Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey write to USDAurging it to "demonstrate its rigorous commitment to enforcement byimposing a range of punitive actions" including "a substantialfine as well as considering the suspension or cancellation of the registrationand/or license of the facility" should Dr. Moor-Jankowski's allegationsof retaliation be upheld.
Dr. Moor-Jankowski submits to USDA a detailed, sworn affidavit, accompaniedby extensive documentation supporting his allegations of retaliation. Mr.Lou Dinetz and Dr. Preston Marx, NYU research professor and leading scientistat the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Foundation Center, submit sworn affidavitsin support of Dr. Moor-Jankowski's case.