Harvard University announced yesterday it will close its primate research center located on Parmenter Road in Southborough. The decision comes after a troubled stretch for the facility, which reported the deaths of four monkeys between June 2010 and February 2012.
According to the Boston Globe, Harvard cited “a tough economic climate for biomedical research funding and shifting long-term strategic plans” for its decision. The facility is expected to be largely shut down by 2015.
Writes the Globe:
The US Department of Agriculture investigated the center and cited Harvard for violations of animal welfare rules, an embarrassing black eye that caused consternation across the university. But medical school leaders said the decision to close the primate center was unrelated to its previous problems.
“It’s very, very disturbing, disappointing, disheartening, shocking,” said Nancy Haigwood, director of the Oregon National Primate Research Center, who was informed of the decision by the Harvard center’s director. “I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to imagine that the investigators impacted by this decision will be able to keep up their momentum. We’re talking about very talented senior investigators who are at the peak of their careers.”
Haigwood said the decision would, at the least, slow down the pace of research into diseases that affect human health and might lead scientists to leave the Boston area to pursue their projects. The primate center is known for its research on infectious diseases, such as AIDS, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
What do you think? Is this good news for Southborough or bad news? Or is it too soon to tell? Share your thoughts in the comments below.