October 29, 2015

Weill Cornell Medicine Dean Accused of Chimp Abandonment

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Dr. Laurie Glimcher, dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, has been the target of protests from animal activists who claim she “abandon[ed] 66 chimpanzees in Liberia with no food or water,” according to Donald Moss, founder of TheirTurn, an online animal rights news magazine.

The protests criticize Glimcher, focusing on her work with the New York Blood Center, where she recently completed her term as a member of the board. The NYBC had been funding a Liberian lab performing virus-testing research on chimpanzees since 1974, but ultimately ended its financial aid to the lab last March, according to The New York Times.

Protesters surrounded the medical college, Glimcher’s residence and NYBC’s office denouncing the NYBC’s decision to withdraw its financial support from the lab, which they say left it unable to provide for the 66 chimpanzees in its care.

“We staged two protests at the NYBC itself, six protests at the homes of the chairman of the board of the NYBC — in both New York City and the Hamptons — [and] three protests at the homes and office of Laurie Glimcher,” Moss said.

Moss said he believes Glimcher was targeted because she was a “very prominent member of the board, she’s the dean of a medical college, she has treated patients in clinical practice, and she knows that you don’t abandon anyone, human or chimpanzee.”

Moss also believes that the NYBC’s withdrawal could be in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an agreement which protects the endangered plants and animals.

“I do believe that abandoning animals with no food and water is a violation of international law,” he said.

Both the United States and Liberia are member states of this voluntary treaty, having signed on in 1974 and 1981, respectively.

NYBC’s website claims that the sanctuary was voluntarily funded by NYBC “until the Government of Liberia could take over.” It further notes that the Liberian government and animal rights organizations “knew all along that our support was voluntary and could not continue.”

However, Moss rejected this premise, saying that “the only sustainable solution is for the NYBC to reinstate funding because the blood center couldn’t possibly expect for the government of Liberia, which is a poor country that just went through an Ebola epidemic … to take care of these chimps.”

“The government of Liberia didn’t create this problem,” he said. “[NYBC] created this problem and for them to now walk away and say ‘this is the government of Liberia’s responsibility’ is outrageous.”

Moss added that, because the NYBC’s $400 million in assets make it able to afford to continue its funding, it has a responsibility to do so.

Glimcher denies affiliation with this decision, saying that she “can’t provide any insight about these decisions” as her term on the board did not begin until 2013. She deferred to NYBC on the specifics of the issue.

“As a scientist, I strongly support the ethical and humane treatment of animals used in research,” Glimcher said. “I have a great respect for these animals and recognize the value they bring in our pursuit of new cures for devastating human diseases.”

The activists plan to protest at NYBC’s 50th anniversary fundraising gala, according to Moss.

“People are coming in from Ohio, Texas, San Francisco … to participate in this protest,” he said. “People are furious.”

Sarah Smith, director of media relations for WCM, said Glimcher vacated her position at the NYBC because her two-year commitment had expired.

“She declined the opportunity to pursue a second term due to her responsibilities at Weill Cornell Medicine,” Smith said.

  • Reality Check

    Why is this story in The Sun? Laurie Glimcher is not linked to the chimp issue in either the Sun story or on the TheirTurn website by anything more than two years of service on the 18-member board of NY Blood Center, which terminated a long-term arrangement with Liberia during Glimcher’s board service (now ended). It sounds to me that Glimcher is simply an accessible high-profile target for a campaign against something in which she had no active role. While anyone can protest anything, I like to think The Sun can serve its audience better by covering other things.

    • Moppet

      Reality Check – read hours of info & you will see what has happened. It’s all out there. The funds were just cut this spring during her term. She had an active role in the decision. These chimps were tested for 30+ years for HIV blood transfusion & their testing got the hepatitis vaccine for humans. THE NYBC GOT HALF A BILLION DOLLARS from the testing results on the chimps! (One batch of 20 chimps was abandoned & 19 died). So, out of half a billion dollars & being injected with hepatitis, AIDS, & river blindness bacteria, the chimps were abandoned with NO food and NO water??? As a medical facility, it would have been better to put them down instead of letting them die of dehydration & starvation. THIS HAPPENED ON LAURIE GLIMCHER’S WATCH!!! Her term was also a 3 year term. NYBC is spinning this by saying her service ended. The terms are for 3 years. She still had 8 months left. As far as Liberia being responsible…that is “spin” also. NYBC captured wild chimps & bought pet chimps for their testing. NYBC didn’t give Liberia any of the half billion dollars made on the chimps. NYBC closed down & said, “This is your problem” to Liberia. They took their marbles and went home. They made 3.1 Million for their ONE NIGHT fundraiser gala in 2014! (It costs $380,000 yearly to care for the chimps. I’ve got more info than you would want. Do some research. #BoycottNYBC donate to Sloan Kettering til NYBC Does The Right Thing!

      • Reality Check

        If you have real independent research to offer, please provide links to it.

  • Belle Ball

    Being on the board when the funding was cut sounds to me like an active role. She was on the board when this came down. The Sun is serving the truth and it is appreciated.

    • Moppet

      I am so glad to read this. It IS the truth. The funding was cut just this spring…on Laurie Glimcher’s watch. Her term was for 3 years also. She served 2 years 4 months. NYBC is putting a spin on this. We have been putting pressure on them all over. We are having a Tweet Storm on Nov. 11 & you don’t need to tweet to help the chimps. Info on fb Tweet Storm to Save the NYBC Chimps & also at this link. Thanks if you can help the chimps.

  • Katherine Herzog

    Laurie Glimcher and the rest of the NYBC board are guilty of using and abusing these Chimpanzees, our nearest cousins -sharing over 98% of our DNA. Captured from their forest families, infected with deadly viruses for 30 years and then abandoning them…to a lingering death on tiny islands without food or fresh water. NYBC should do the right thing and deliver these chimps who are now unable to fend for themselves in the wild, to a proper Chimpanzee Sanctuary and pay for their care. Her statement “I strongly support the ethical and humane treatment of animals used in research” is obviously a blatant lie.

    • Moppet

      Thank you for your comment on the chimps. We are doing a Tweet Storm FOR the chimps on Nov. 11. There is a fb page called Tweet Storm to Save the NYBC Abandoned Chimps. You can still help if you don’t tweet. Please check it out, if you would like to help the chimps. Here is a link with more info also. thank you.

  • Moppet

    Thank you for posting this article. I appreciate the news and appreciate the info you provided. This is the only paper that has reported this yet. Thanks!

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