Patricia Echeverria’s senior project tackles an ethical dilemma by exploring the costs and benefits of using chimpanzees in research.
Echeverria is a 29-year-old transfer student from Tillamook Bay Community College. She is currently finishing her degree in biology and is the Treasurer of Pacific’s Animal Ethics Club.
Her research project titled, “An Ape for An Ape: Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Chimpanzee use in Biomedical Research,” faced a major hurdle. Echeverria had difficulty finding fair and unbiased sources and material.
Echeverria spent many hours searching for material that was fair and balanced. An additional challenge in gathering sources was in the peer review and scholarly journals. Echeverria found that there was limited peer reviewed material. Also, several of the studies conducted were funded by a biased interest groups.
“I had difficulty finding credible information to represent both sides of the argument,” Echeverria said. “I discovered a lot of conservation or animal ethics groups who often present less than credible and biased information.”
Beyond the research methods and information bias, Echeverria also had to avoid her own personal bias.
“I am learning a lot in the process,” Echeverria said. “Even though I am personally against it, when I am able to read the benefits of biomedical research on chimpanzees it is fascinating.”
Echeverria mentions that there have been several advances in medicine because of this research, however the ethical quandary remains. Currently many countries forbid the use of chimpanzees in research, however the United States continues to conduct research.
“Chimpanzees are highly cognitive and demonstrate theory of mind, much like human beings and unlike any other species, it is our responsibility to protect them as we would ourselves.”