Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research

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Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) (formerly the Foundation of Applied Research) is an animal testing and primate breeding facility. SFBR was founded as a non-profit institution with a philanthropic grant from Thomas B. Slick, Jr. in 1941. The facility is located on a 332-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas. It has over 400 employees, including a "multidisciplinary team of approximately 85 doctoral level scientists". The foundation also has the only privately owned biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in the country. [1]

Southwest National Primate Research Center

SFBR is the funding apparatus for the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC). SNPRC is part of the National Primate Research Center System (NPRC) of eight regional centers that test and breed primates for laboratories. In 1999, it became the first new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded NPRC in over 35 years. Unlike the other seven NPRC's, the primate center is not connected to a large University. See also section 7.

Of the eight centers, SNPRC has the largest primate censuses; including the world’s largest captive baboon population, the world’s largest population of pedigreed primates and the largest NPRC chimpanzee population. [2] The center's facilities hold 3,400 chimpanzees and species of monkeys. However, this figure does not include animals being used in research protocols. See also section 6.

The center's 3,000 baboons make up the largest portion of its primate population. Approximately 2,000 baboons are members of a sixth generation pedigreed colony. [3] The primate center's administrative, training, outreach, primate colony and research branches are organized within three groups: comparative medicine, virology and immunology and genetics. [4] SNPRC provides "broad services" in primate research to the southwest; including services and procedures for "outside investigators participating in collaborative projects". Primates from SNPRC breeding colonies are also sold to outside laboratories. [5]

Primate research

According to SFBR, "chimpanzees are valuable animal models for many areas of research, particularly for research on vaccines and drugs to prevent or treat viral diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis." [6]

"Dr. Jonathan Allan is working to understand how HIV induces AIDS in people by studying simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV) in their natural host, with particular attention paid to the discovery of how seemingly harmless viral infections in monkeys can pose a serious health risk to humans. ...His laboratory has developed several nonhuman primate models for research on human diseases including not only AIDS but also cancer. ...The main focus of Dr. Krishna Murthy’s research is pathogenesis of viral infections, immune response of the host to infections, and candidate vaccine strategies. A majority of his studies are being performed using human and nonhuman primate samples from hosts exposed to human immunodeficiency viruses and various hepatitis viruses. Dr. Krishna Murthy works with the National Institutes of Health and several commercial ventures in testing vaccines to prevent HIV infection."

Dr. Luis Giavedoni also studies simian immunodeficiency viruses. [7]

SNPRC has used chimpanzees extensively in infectious disease research; including AIDS vaccine studies and DNA vaccine testing. Dr. Murthy, a veterinarian and scientist, receives NIH funds for testing potential HIV vaccines on chimpanzees. A San Antonio news article reported that Murthy was to test a vaccine for AIDS in baboons and chimpanzees “in collaboration with United Biomedical Inc. of New York and the California Department of Health Services.” [8], [9]

Inefficacy & criticism of primate "models"

Gov. Bill Richardson calls for USDA investigation of transfer of Alamogordo chimps. - PCRM - November 2010

Many of the chimpanzee's bred during the 80's for AIDS research account for the chimpanzee “surplus." Scientists ultimately learned that chimps do not contract AIDS from HIV infection. Instead, they typically shed the virus in time. Yet, those still pushing for their use have gone to great and invasive lengths (quite outside of the normal progression) to force HIV infections in primates. Chimpanzees have proven to be a failed and dangerous model for heart and cancer research as well. In August of 2008, Dr. Jarrod Bailey presented his work on AIDS research and his previous study Chimpanzee Research at the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. [10] See also The Case to End Chimpanzee Research: Scientific Publications. [11]

The European Union (EU) has long considered a ban on the use of wild-caught primates and great apes. It has been widely accepted that the chimpanzee model for HIV was a failure as infected chimpanzees do not develop AIDS. [12] As scientists began steering away from the chimpanzee model, they turned their attention to monkeys. However, after years of pursuit and tens of millions of dollars, the failures of the monkey models are increasingly evident as well; with AIDS patient advocacy groups calling for an end to funding this type of research. Over 85 vaccines have failed human clinical trials, with some actually increasing the likely hood of HIV infection. [13], [14] On September 8, 2010, the EU voted in favor of a ban on the use of great apes, as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research. [15]

Although readily acknowledged that the same "viral infections" that pose a "health risk" to humans are "seemingly harmless" in primates, SFBR researchers like Drs. Jonathan Allan, Luis Giavedoni and Krishna Murthy continue to infect chimps and other primates; using millions annually in taxpayer funded "research". [16] See also AIDS industry.

Alamogordo chimps

Plans to move 186 government owned chimps to SFBR were postponed, due to efforts of animal welfare organizations, legislators and concerned citizens. Chimps living at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, were slated for transfer to SFBR, in the spring of 2011. Of the original 202 chimps, two had died and fourteen had already been transferred. However, on January 4, the NIH canceled plans to transfer the remaining chimps, pending a policy review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), on chimp research. The review is expected to take approximately two years. The decision followed a letter from Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), requesting “analysis of the current and future need for chimps in biomedical research." Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called for a similar review when meeting with the NIH in August of 2010.

Since plans to transfer the chimps were announced in the summer of 2010, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Gov. Richardson, Animal Protection of New Mexico and other groups; worked with legislators and the public to encourage the NIH to reverse its decision. Over 25,000 HSUS supporters, members of Congress and others weighed in with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. HSUS President Wayne Pacelle, joined Gov. Richardson, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and Animal Protection of New Mexico at a joint press conference on November 18. The chimps have already been forced to endure decades of invasive research; but had not been used for the last ten years.[17] See also NAS.

Commercial product pipeline

Organic chemistry specializing in fertility issues, is one of SFBR’s longest running departments. It is currently being spun off as a private pharmaceutical enterprise. Evestra, will be a commercial pipeline for fertility control, hormone replacement and oncology products. The new company will generate revenue from synthetic steriods for the NIH, according to a 30 year long contract. The contract will be transferred to Evestra. [18]

John C. Kerr and J.R. Hurd of SFBR's exective committee are also on Evestra's board of directors. Mr. Kerr, is Chairman of Evestra's board of directors as well as Interim president of SFBR since June of 2006. He served as Chairman of the SFBR Board of Trustees from 1998 until June of 2007. Since 1992, Mr. Kerr been an investor and board member of numerous pharmaceutical companies; including BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals, Inc., ILEX Oncology, Brava Therapeutics and Azaya Therapeutics, Inc., where he also serves as chairman.

John R. Hurd is Chairman of SFBR's Board of Trustees. Since 1995, he has served as CEO of Hurd Enterprises, Ltd.. a south Texas oil, real-estate, ranching and investment company which has operated in south Texas since the 1920's. Mr. Hurd joined SFBR's board in 1998 and it's Exectutive board since 2000. Both Mr. Kerr and Mr. Hurd are lawyers and graduates of the University of Texas School of Law. [19]

Animal cruelty & welfare violations

Live dissection of baboon & multiple violations

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) is a national research watchdog organization. In 2001 SAEN filed the largest official complaint in history with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), uncovering laboratory abuses at dozens of well known universities and research facilities.[20] During a February 2008 news conference, SAEN released details of the gruesome necropsy at SFBR in which a male baboon was dissected while still alive. According to Micheal Budkie of SAEN, SFBR's 2007 government reports contained over a dozen violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).[21] See also USDA, section 3.

SAEN and the San Antonio based Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc., filed complaints against SFBR with the USDA /Animal & Plant Inspection Service and the NIH. The USDA complaint demanded immediate action (fines) and the NIH complaint sought refunding of grants relevant to the use of the baboon. According to Don Elroy, Advocacy and Education Coordinator for Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation:

"These blatant violations of the AWA and regulations warrant a thorough investigation and immediate suspension of these protocols. Penalties should be assessed and an incident like this should never be allowed to happen again at any registered facility."

The incident was the latest in a long series of incidents involving NPRC system laboratories.[22]

Statement from USDA

During an April 2007 inspection, USDA Veterinary Medical Officer, Elizabeth Pannill, cited SFBR for multiple violations; the most severe being an incident involving a baboon designated for euthanasia, necropsy and tissue harvest in April of 2006. According to Dr. Pannill:

"Euthanasia means the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress. Euthanasia of one baboon was not accomplished as described above. It was not dead prior to the start of the necropsy procedure."

The incident racked up multiple related citations. The researcher in charge was cited for "significant deviation from the approved protocol" and the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACCU) was cited for downplaying the incident. There were also citations for unqualified personnel and performance of multiple "survival surgeries", without USDA approval. The USDA does not have the authority to close a research facility, regardless of the issues and token fines are insignificant compared to grant dollars. For these reasons, SAEN requested that the NIH seek reimbursement for funds related to the baboon and the other violations. [23]

Vivisection "debate"

See also animal testing, section 6.

Other information

Facility information, progress & USDA-APHIS reports

For links to copies of a facility's USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports & Information: Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, TX.[24]

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.


According to SFBR, in addition to "competitive grants and contracts" a "significant portion of its nearly $55 million annual budget is met through the financial contributions of foundations, corporations and individuals." [25]

However, in 2006, federal funds provided for $53,948,663 of SFBR's "55 million dollar budget." [26]

See also NIH & U.S. Government's War on Animals, section 5.

Staff & board

SFBR staff officers

  • Kenneth P. Trevett - President
  • John L. VandeBerg - Chief Scientific Officer
  • Jeannie Frazier - Vice President, CEO Finance & Administration [27]

SNPRC doctoral staff

  • John L. VandeBerg, PhD - Director
  • Jonathan S. Allan
  • Raul A. Bastarrachea
  • Ricardo Carrion, Jr.
  • Jeannie Chan
  • Anthony Comuzzie
  • Laura A. Cox
  • L. Bill Cummins
  • Thomas Folks
  • Marie-Claire Gauduin
  • Luis D. Giavedoni
  • Anthony Griffiths
  • Vida Hodara
  • Robert E. Lanford
  • Corrine Lutz
  • Michael C. Mahaney
  • Henry C. McGill, Jr.
  • James Mubiru
  • Jera Pecotte
  • Karen Rice
  • Jeff Rogers
  • Robert E. Shade
  • R. Mark Sharp
  • Qiang Shi
  • John L. VandeBerg
  • Jeff T. Williams
  • Sarah Williams-Blangero [28]

Executive board members

  • John R. Hurd, Chairman, CEO, Hurd Family Enterprises
  • Lewis J. Moorman III, Vice-Chairman, Investor
  • James B. Smith Jr., Secretary; Partner, Cox Smith Matthews Incorporated
  • Ronald K. Calgaard, Ph.D., Chairman, Ray Ellison Grandchildren Trust
  • Charles E. Foster, Ret. Group President, SBC; Former Chairman, Prodigy Internet Co.
  • Claudia Huntington, Sr Vice-President, Capital Research, President, AMCAP Fund
  • John C. Kerr, Principal, Moorman Kerr Interests, (former chairman)
  • Edward H. Austin Jr., Principal, Austin Family Investments
  • Richard N. Azar II, General Partner, Sezar Energy L.P.
  • Robert M. Cavender, President, Cavender Auto Group
  • Phyllis Slick Cowell, Philanthropist
  • Barbara B. Dreeben, President, Postal Advantage
  • Walter Embrey, President, Embrey Partners Ltd.
  • John W. Feik, President & CEO, DFB Pharmaceuticals
  • William E. Greehey, Chairman, NuStar Energy, L.P.
  • Hugh Halff Jr., Investor
  • Emory A. Hamilton, Partner, Groves Alexander
  • George C. Hixon, former Chairman, Investor/Rancher
  • Abigail G. Kampmann, Exec. Vice President, Performance Companies
  • Richard Kardys, Exec. Vice President, Financial Management Group, Frost
  • Betty Stieren Kelso, Investor/Rancher
  • Carolyn H. Labatt, Owner & President, Computer Solutions
  • Milton B. Lee, General Manager/CEO, CPS Energy
  • Mark Pitman Mays, President * CEO, Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
  • Joe C. McKinney, Vice Chairman, Broadway National Bank
  • John E. Newman Jr., Principal, Newman Brothers
  • Marsha M. Shields, President, McCombs Foundation
  • Charles Urschel Slick, Partner, Slick Enterprises, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Edward E. Whitacre Jr., Chairman Emeritus, AT&T, Inc.
  • Mark H. Wright, Ret. President & CEO, USAA Federal Savings Bank
  • James P. Zachry, President, Tower Life Insurance

Trustees emeritus

  • Sam Barshop, Chairman, Barshop and Oles Co.
  • Walter F. Brown
  • President, Delray Oil, Inc.
  • Leroy G. Denman Jr., Attorney
  • H. Rugeley Ferguson Sr., Investor/Rancher
  • Tom C. Frost Jr., Chairman Emeritus, Frost
  • James W. Gorman Jr., Investor/Rancher
  • B.D. Holt, Chairman, Holt Companies
  • B.J. McCombs, Chairman, McCombs Enterprises
  • J. Burleson Smith, Partner, Cox Smith & Matthews, Inc.
  • Louis Stumberg Sr., Investor/Rancher

Honorary trustees

  • J. Dan Bates, President, Southwest Research Institute
  • William L. Henrich, M.D., President, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • Ricardo Romo, Ph.D., President, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • John P. Howe III, M.D., President/CEO, Project Hope

Ex officio trustees

  • James D. Ellis, President, The Argyle
  • Edward A. Hart, President, The Founder's Council
  • Laura Moorman, President, Southwest Foundation Forum [29]

Articles & sources

Sourcewatch articles


  1. About, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, 2009
  2. Southwest National Primate Research Center, SFBR, 2009
  3. Primates, SNPRC, 2009
  4. Information from grant 5P51RR013986-10, “Southwest National Primate Research Center,” 2008.
  5. Southwest National Primate Research Center, Southwest National Primate Research Center, 2009
  6. Ensuring the Humane Treatment of Animals in Research, SFBR, 2009
  7. Overview: Retroviruses and AIDS, Virology & Immunology, SFBR, 2009
  8. Cindy Tumeil, S.A. scientists working on vaccine for AIDS, San Antonio Express-News, August 14 2005.
  9. Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, Project R&R, New England Anti-vivisection Society, February 2009
  10. HIV/AIDS Debacle: Research Attributes Lack of HIV/AIDS Vaccine to Use of Chimpanzees, Project R&R, NEAVES, 2009
  11. The Case to End Chimpanzee Research: Scientific Publications, Project R&R, NEAVS, 2009
  12. (Bailey, 2008; Nath, Schumann and Boyer, 2000, and others)
  13. Dr. Jarrod Bailey An assessment of the role of chimpanzees in AIDS vaccine research. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 36(4):, 2008
  14. An Introduction to Primate Issues: The Value of Primate Research is Challenged, Humane Society of the United States, accessed November 2009
  15. Great apes protected as EU restricts animal testing, Agence France-Presse, September 8, 2010
  16. Overview: Retroviruses and AIDS, Virology & Immunology, SFBR, 2009
  17. A New Year's Reprieve for Alamogordo Chimpanzees, Humane Society of the United States, January 4, 2011
  18. Organic Chemistry, SFBR, accessed November 2009
  19. Board of Directors, Evestra, November 2009
  20. Stop Animal Exploitation Now SAEN, Wiserearth, accessed November 2008
  21. Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), May 2009
  22. Micheal A. Budkie Press Release: San Antonio lab dissects Baboon while still alive, federal documents reveal; National watchdog group to disclose details at Monday briefing, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, February 2008
  23. Micheal A. Budkie Statement: Prepared Statement Regarding Violations of Federal Law by the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, SAEN, February 2008
  24. Facility Reports and Information: Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, TX, SAEN, accessed November 2009
  25. About, SFBR, 2009
  26. National Primate Research Center System: Eight Year Primate Center Funding and Population Trends, SAEN, 1999-2006
  27. Board of Trustees, SFBR, accessed November 2009
  28. Southwest National Primate Research Center, SNPRC, February 2009
  29. Board of Trustees, SFBR, accessed November 2009

External articles

External resources