In the context of the Q+ course “Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Disease – Animal Testing and the Creation of Scientific Findings for Humanity,” Q+ organized a field trip to Göttingen to visit the German Primate Center. The German Primate Center GmbH (GPC, founded 1977) is an independent, service-oriented research institute for the German scientific community. It is a member of the Leibniz Association and is financed in part by the federal and state governments of Germany.
At the GPC, we were greeted by Prof. Rüdiger Behr, Dr. Gerrit Hennecke, and Dr. Susanne Diederich, who spoke with us about the ethical and scientific implications of experimental animal research using non-human primates. Next, the biological, biomedical, and legal background of the GPC’s current therapeutic stem-cell approach was also explained. Among other research studies taking place at the GPC, studies are being conducted on the regeneration of heart muscle using stem cells, and special attention was paid to this during our session. In addition to the theoretical debate, technical laboratory tasks were also explained, and the students were given a chance to experience the stem cell lab first hand. The numerous dimensions of research involving animal experimentation were discussed, including the responsibilities of researchers, the weighing of the potential benefits for humanity against the expected suffering of the animals, the limitations and possibilities of alternative methods, as well as communication on the topic.