People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released videos Monday from animal research conducted at Oregon Health & Science University.

The videos show footage connected to the laboratory of Dr. Elinor Sullivan, an associate professor at OHSU and a faculty member at the school’s Oregon National Primate Research Center.


PETA had sued OHSU over the research videos last year after the university denied a public records request. A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled in April that the school disclose some of the videos to PETA.

The videos document research on whether a high-fat diet affects monkeys’ offspring, OHSU said in a statement.

The university said adult female monkeys were fed either a “control diet” of standard food or a “Western-style diet designed to mimic the average American diet.” That diet is made up of “ground oat hulls, casein and wheat flour, which contain a higher content of fat and sugar,” not literal junk food, OHSU said.

“The overall objective of this research is to identify early environmental risk factors for mental health disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), anxiety and depression,” OHSU said.

Some videos specifically show researchers conducting “Human Intruder” tests. In those, researchers stand in front of caged macaque monkeys to measure their anxiety and stress response.

“It’s easy to see why OHSU tried so hard to hide these cruel, pointless ‘junk food’ experiments,” PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna said in a statement. “This indefensible abuse of sensitive monkeys must stop now.”


Chandna wrote a letter to OHSU President Danny Jacobs Monday before the release of the videos, asking him to shut down the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

“It’s time for the OHSU to take definitive action and stop hosting the abuse, neglect, and killing of vulnerable animals at ONPRC,” Chandna wrote. “It’s time for OHSU to shut down the monkey prison facility that is ONPRC.”

Chandna and PETA also stated that OHSU researchers “killed most — if not all — of the young monkeys when they were just 13 months old.”

OHSU said the videos released to PETA were obtained from animals as part of Dr. Sullivan’s “mentor’s research grant.” The peer-reviewed research paper in which the videos were published does include “brain assays from animals that were humanely euthanized as part of [Dr. Sullivan’s] mentor’s approved research protocol.”

Sullivan’s research grant, which was funded after the videos were created, did not involve euthanasia, OHSU said.

“They received an MRI to examine brain development and then were released from her project at 3 years of age,” the university said.

All the monkeys in the study lived in indoor-outdoor social groups, OHSU said in its statement, with enclosures including swings, pools, puzzle feeders and toys. They were only placed in a testing cage for the duration of the research, 31 minutes, before being reunited with their group in the enclosure, OHSU said.

“If, at any point, a monkey had shown distress or engaged in behaviors that could potentially cause injury, the test would have been stopped and the monkey immediately returned to their group,” the university said.

OHSU said the findings from its study showed that feeding a mother monkey a high-fat diet did indeed affect the offspring’s behavior and mood, including increased anxiety. “The study also showed that placing the offspring on a healthy diet at an early age failed to reverse the effect,” OHSU said.

PETA posted excerpts of the research videos on its YouTube. OHSU also posted one of the videos on its website, with a step-by-step explanation of the research.


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