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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 44.0° F  Fair
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Curry love; Co-op love; Drinking problem; UW cat research
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Curry love

I love KJ's Curry Bowl and really want the couple who own it to succeed ("Sensational Sri Lankan Getaway," 1/3/2014). They seem so nice and sincere, new immigrants with an old American dream. Your article was very good, a concise but interesting cultural background, an enticing description of the dining experience, and your important warning about the spice heat. I know I'm not the only Sri Lankan American who appreciates your review.

Rohan de Silva, Milwaukee

Lothlorien lore

I was very distressed when I heard about the fire at Lothlorien ("After Fire, Lothlorien's Future Uncertain," 1/10/2014). Our daughter lives there and escaped unharmed.

I lived at Lothlorien when it was just a year old. Before it was a co-op, the house was a women's rooming house and before that a Jewish fraternity. I met many wonderful people there, watched beautiful sunsets and northern lights from the back porch, and learned how to fix plumbing and other things. (Madison Community Cooperative did not have a maintenance person.)

I hope they fix the house soon. It should be saved from developers, who would love to put up some 10-plus-story condo there and make a huge profit.

Genie Ogden

Drinking problem

I always enjoy seeing a two-page color cartoon in your paper, and "Drunk Wisconsin" (1/3/2014) by the Off the Square guys was nice to see. However, it wasn't nice to see that this tongue-in-cheek comic layout was being presented as a cover story about a pretty serious issue in our state. The comic would have been a nice lighter addition to a longer, more in-depth cover story. Though I guess it's not really surprising, when you turn to the back cover and see the ad for the Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest; it would be a poor move on your end to seriously inform people about the dangers of a drunk culture and binge drinking right before you throw your big binge-drinking festival.

As a recovering alcoholic I was disappointed that a serious issue I hold dear was turned into a puff piece.

Janson Olson

UW cat research

I write to thank Isthmus and reporter Jenny Peek for the article about auditory research ("How UW Lab Cats Became the Symbols for PETA's Campaign Against Animal Research," 1/10/2014). In an age when misinformation too often inflames passions and polarizes viewpoints, your article fairly describes Dr. Tom Yin's research, and largely refutes PETA's claims.

I conduct research using rats and mice, and I take the responsibility of caring for these animals very seriously. Contrary to PETA's claims that "animals have no protection" in labs, animal research is the most heavily regulated of all animal uses in our society. In addition to inspections triggered by frivolous complaints like those described in the article, our labs are inspected twice yearly by trained staff, and all changes to animal protocols require prior approval. As noted in the article, infections are an important concern for lab animals, as for humans and companion animals. Thankfully, effective antibiotic treatments are available -- not incidentally, treatments developed in part through animal research.

Matthew I. Banks, Ph.D., Associate professor, Department of Anesthesiology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Awww...is our widdle biddy UW being bullied by BIG BAD PETA? Reading the article on the UW's use of cats in research almost made me feel sorry for the researchers, rather than the cats! Give me a break. Here's an obvious suggestion: If you want to effectively study "the human auditory system," USE HUMANS. And for the record, I wish harm to no animal researcher. With their experience and access to evidence, they make the very best whistleblowers!

Patty Roth

I am pleased to see that the administration at UW is standing up for neuroscientists under attack from people who are ill-informed and ill-intended. I was surprised, however, to read the blatantly hypocritical quote from Dr. Eric Sandgren: "suspending a program before an investigation is unprecedented." I find it hard to believe that he does not remember that he and others did just that in my case in 2009 when I was faculty at UW.

He states, "I don't think it was particularly fair that they did it that way…. They suspended it before they had any evidence that there was a problem." Sadly, this is exactly what he, Dr. Janet Welter and the "All Campus Animal Care and Use Committee" did in my case. My laboratory and all animal use privileges were summarily halted without any charges, and to this day, there's been no investigation by the university. After the suspension, neither USDA nor OLAW found a single violation in my laboratory, but there was no retraction from the committee.

Sandgren and his cohorts should acknowledge that neither I nor the students in my laboratory committed any animal welfare violations.

Michele A. Basso, Ph.D., Los Angeles, Calif.

No matter how many obfuscations and excuses UW uses to defend its mutilation and killing of cats in experiments, anyone with a heart will be appalled by Isthmus' disturbing cover photo of a cat with a grotesque device screwed to her skull. Sadly, this barbarism--which doesn't help anyone and would be illegal outside of a laboratory -- is business as usual at UW and it is bankrolled with our tax dollars.

That the law allows it does not mean the experiments are ethical or scientifically valid. It simply means current laws governing the treatment of animals in labs aren't enough.

Jeremy Beckham, Norfolk, Va.

PETA targeted Dr. Yin's work accidentally, through a sweeping open records request, not because animals were mistreated. Dr. Yin, a superb scientist who cares deeply for animal welfare, has been my valued colleague for 34 years.

Why is PETA allowed to twist the truth and to make unfounded accusations when most of our society is protected by liability laws? Why is PETA allowed to harass scientists when harassment and stalking are not tolerated in other facets of our lives? Why is PETA allowed to waste taxpayer money by inundating state and national officials with jobs that are not only useless but which prevent useful things from being done?

Donata Oertel, Department of Neuroscience, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

I've inspected these cats and, like OLAW, found them looking healthy and behaving and moving like my own cat at home. I understand and respect those who object to the use of animals for food, clothing or research. Most of us, however, eat meat, wear leather, or use medications and benefit from medical procedures that would not exist without the use of animals. I am thankful to have a skull-anchored hearing device (involving a permanently open wound susceptible to infection) that was developed using animal research. I think most of us appreciate such research and want the animals to be treated well. As a member of an Animal Care and Use Committee, I have a duty to ensure they're treated well, and I take it seriously.

Andrea Bilger

The information Prof. Yin gathers will help in decision-making in the treatment of patients with impaired hearing, but even more important, it will increase our understanding of how the auditory system works, which in the future may help develop new technologies and treatments. For those who doubt that animal models can be that useful, let me remind you that many important medical discoveries such as insulin were made in animal models, and this is how medical research made such progress in the last decade.

Aeyal Raz

I had the honor of working with and learning from Dr. Yin for several years and, having now worked in neuroscience research (with animals of all kinds) at multiple universities, I can attest that I have rarely seen better-cared-for lab animals than in his lab. Dr. Yin is a diligent and conscientious practitioner who has given much to the UW and Madison communities, and deserves to be treated in a respectful and professional manner.

Hilary Gerstein

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