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MARTHA ROSENBERG

Biomedical buzz

RESEARCHER 1: So, did the technician check out?

Researcher 2: I hope so.

Researcher 1: No PETA affiliation? No hidden videotape?

Researcher 2: Very funny! I don't know where they get applicants anyway. Imagine the job description: ''Decapitate cute mammals and prepare their brains for histologic studies. Put 'em in the incinerator while they're still twitching."

Researcher 1: Once that happened; once!

Researcher 2: ''Section animals over 50 lbs. Keep in fume hoods to prevent ethafume explosions. Must like animals-- but not get too attached to them."

Researcher 1: You forgot, ''Speak to press and go to jail."

Researcher 2: No wonder people volunteer to go to Iraq.

Researcher 1: Yeah. Better air; less security!

Researcher 2: Speaking of security, they installed a video surveillance camera at my home. I don't know if I should feel more secure or less. Joan's terrified every time the doorbell rings. She has Maria opening the mail.

Researcher 1: Wait until they put your name and address on the Internet.

Researcher 2: I worry about the kids.

Researcher 1: Or throw paint stripper on your car.

Researcher 2: Their friends have said things.

Researcher 1: Or tell your neighbors you're a puppy killer!

Researcher 2: How did we become the bad guys, dammit? You spend half your professional life chasing mice, finally get to primates or dogs or even cats and suddenly you're a murderer!

Researcher 1: No kidding!

Researcher 2: Changing ''animal" to ''animal model" fooled no one; they know it's not a computer model. We might as well say animal martyr.

Researcher 1: Or ''your pet."

Researcher 2: Replacing dogs with pigs didn't help either. Look what happened to Webster at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for trying to study whether Tasers can electrocute pigs' hearts. All they see is Babe.

Researcher 1: In my day it was Wilbur.

Researcher 2: It's not like the pig's going to live out his natural life on a tropical isle. He's going to be killed for food anyway.

Researcher 1: They don't believe in killing animals for food.

Researcher 2: It's not like the cats in the pound are going to live out their natural lives.

Researcher 1: They believe in no-kill shelters.

Researcher 2: And you can't even debate these nuts because you'd have to reveal what you're doing and who you are.

Researcher 1: ''Chino come and get me too."

Researcher 2: So we end up saying most of the work is with rodents and rabbits and we are tapering down which agrees with their premise that it's wrong.

Researcher 1: Like bad food and such small portions?

Researcher 2: Or we fall back on the lives that are saved which is hard to prove with wrinkle creme studies or when an investigator repeats something over and over for the money.

Researcher 1: The public can't judge our work anyway.

Researcher 2: Or we say it is in the interests of the researcher to treat the animal well which flies in the face of the head injury, pain, toxicity, and burn studies.

Researcher 1: No pun intended.

Researcher 2: Or we assure the public we are abiding by government regulations which stipulate the room must be 72 degrees and the cage 18 inches while we exsanguinate a beagle.

Researcher 1: Or the drowned animal had drinking water.

Researcher 2: Or we set up the your-dog-or-your-daughter conjunction and then a Vioxx comes along and it is their daughter.

Researcher 1: Now that really ticked me off! Big pharma doesn't want to lose a year's revenue just waiting for clinical trials so they go to patent prematurely and we all look bad.

Technician: Hello, I'm the new lab technician.

Researcher 1:Yes, we were just talking about you.

Martha Rosenberg is staff cartoonist for the Evanston Roundtable.

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