August 5, 2008

Statement on Recent Terrorism at University of California, Santa Cruz

Terrorism against researchers and institutions as well as their children and other family members is not to be tolerated. It is illegal and unconscionable. The firebombing of the home of a researcher, terrorizing him, his wife and family and the firebombing of a car belonging to another researcher are not debate — they are terrorism.

Dr. Feldheim's research on diseases of the human brain and nervous system is focused on those abnormalities that occur during prenatal development as the "wiring" is laid down in very precise patterns. This is the very specific platform upon which is built the function of the brain and spinal cord as well as the way the nervous system connects and communicates throughout the body. Dr. Feldheim works with mice on the development of these connections in the visual centers of the brain because the wiring patterns apply to other areas of the brain. The same rules that apply to development can also be used to "rewire" the brain or spinal cord after damage occurs caused by injury or disease in adulthood. This research using mice takes full advantage of the same developmental rules found in both mice and humans with the added benefit of the genetic manipulations that can be done only in the mouse. His research will lead directly to treatments for neurological diseases and the devastating impact they have on society.

Federally-supported biomedical researchers seek ways to improve our health and quality of life. Scientists care about the welfare of the animals used in research, and uphold rigorous laws, regulations, and policies developed to ensure that animals are used in the smallest numbers possible and with the greatest commitment to their comfort. They are accountable from the time they first plan their research to the time the research is completed to protect the welfare of animals in research. The knowledge gained through biomedical research not only benefits human, but also benefits animals.

Threats to research using animals also threatens the health of the nation. This form of terrorism cannot be tolerated.

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
Norka Ruiz Bravo, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH