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About 400 professors, researchers and students have signed an open letter supporting embattled Anatomy Professor Adrian Morrison against a series of articles published in the American Anti-Vivisection Society Magazine criticizing Morrison's work and the use of animals in biomedical research. The articles, written by AAVS member John McArdle last September, stated that Morrison's work has no benefit to human and animal studies. According to petition organizer and Anatomy Professor James Lash, the purpose behind the collection of signatures is to show support for Morrison from the biomedical community. "The reason I organized the letter is because I read an article about the AAVS's attack on Morrison's research integrity," Lash said. "They have been attacking him while there are others in the biomedical community who support him and his research." Morrison, who recently received an award for scientific freedom and responsibility from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is scheduled to speak tomorrow in New York when the letter is released to the national press. Morrison, who is out of town, could not be reached for comment about the letter. Officials from the AAVS said that the number of signatures on the petition is a disgrace to the medical community. "Our main reaction is that it is sad so many professors would go to bat for an undeserving person like Morrison," said AAVS Director Bernard Unti. "I think it is an embarrassment that so many people would get behind him." McArdle, who wrote the article, threatened to sue Lash when the Anatomy professor incorrectly printed that McArdle was dismissed from the New York Humane Society for being a fanatic in an early draft of the petition. McArdle was dismissed from the Humane Society of the United States. McArdle criticized the letter yesterday saying that it did not examine the facts behind the articles. "The letter is inadequate because it does not really address the issue," McArdle said. "They are not informed of my credentials and they cannot examine the facts I used in my article." McArdle said although he had invited people who signed the letter to contact him about the facts he used in his article, no one has done so. "That shows me that they are not really serious," McArdle said. "The petition is too big on emotion and too short on facts." Morrison has continually been attacked by animal-rights organizations, in particular People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the AAVS, for his research on cats in sleep-deprivation studies. In the past two years, animal activists have broken into and vandalized Morrison's lab and residence. Although Morrison has been attacked by animal-rights groups, he is strongly respected and supported by the biomedical community, according to Lash.

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