Laboratories are supposed to be places of discovery. Scientists carefully design experiments and endure stringent reviews. They follow protocols and run control trials to manage every uncertainty. But laboratories are also places of power — where the usefulness and morality of the experiments can be subject to the idiosyncrasies of the researchers. Animals are often a necessary part of these experiments, and activists, rightly and in some cases wrongly, draw attention to perceived cruelties. However, the victims of animal research aren’t always animals. Sometimes, it’s the researchers who lose their sense of humanity.
Throughout college, I worked in a lab that specialized in the neurobiology of rats. The purpose of our work was to analyze brain activity thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I was thrilled to find myself at the forefront of science, investigating unknowns that might help millions of people.