Max Planck Society statement on the decision of Nikos Logothetis

May 01, 2015

Max Planck director Nikos Logothetis has informed the scientific community that, following the completion of his ongoing and previously approved research on primates, he will no longer work with primates but instead focus exclusively on rodents in the future. The Max Planck Society regrets this decision.

Since September 2014, the primate research laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in the department of Nikos Logothetis has been the target of a campaign by animal rights activists. Selectively edited images of animals in Logothetis's lab, partially presented out of context, and often most likely the result of manipulation of the animals, attempted to discredit animal research. The Max Planck Society and the Institute countered the allegations, and made every effort to contribute to an informed public debate with clear facts. Nikos Logothetis received the full support of the Max Planck Society.

Various representatives from politics also confirmed their support for the research at the Max Planck Institute. For this we are very grateful. Most media coverage was factual and objective. However, the continuous level of hostility directed at the MPI over the past few months, including threatening emails and abusive messages, has been a great burden on everyone involved. The MPG was shocked by the level of aggression and intolerance with which some individuals, who claim to speak for animal welfare organisations but often operate under a cloak of anonymity, propagate their ideas.

The Society will continue to conduct research involving nonhuman primates, as it believes that this is still the only way to develop therapeutic approaches for neurological brain disorders such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, and psychiatric disorders as schizophrenia. The Max Planck Society will also promote innovative approaches to research in the field of primate research in the future.

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