Friday, November 16, 2007

Not the first "first"

OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center is in the news today. No matter where you live, it seems, your local news outlet of choice is probably running a story about the cloning breakthrough announced yesterday at ONPRC. Your local news outlet might not have covered the story out of ONPRC earlier this week, when PETA again sent an undercover operative into Primate Center labs to uncover evidence of animal mistreatment at the Hillsboro site. Even the Oregonian remained unconvinced about the severity of PETA's claims, and the announcement of Mitalipov's success in creating primate embryonic stem cells provided further confirmation of the valuable work being done by OHSU's animal researchers.

Of course, this isn't the first breakthrough to by logged by researchers here, and although the enormity of the task of maintaining of a list of the University's "firsts" has bested the most diligent staffers here (including yours truly, and I've tried), ONPRC maintains its own small list of recent advances on its website. More basic facts about research at OHSU can be found on one of the "about" pages, including the impressive finding that OHSU researchers are producing "one new breakthrough, innovation or discovery every four days."

The Oregon National Primate Center, originally dedicated in May 1962 as the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, was the first research center of its kind in North America. While the center is often shy about divulging specifics about its researchers (with good reason; having worked out at the West Campus for a time myself, I can testify to the routine presence of animal rights protesters and their often questionable tactics and actions), a short fact sheet and historical time line are both available online.

Since the inception of the Oregon Center, another seven primate centers have been established around the country. All are funded by the National Institutes of Health and all are dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge through the study of nonhuman primates. A short history of the national primate centers is available from the center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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