In Wake Forest, monkeys are getting high for science.
An analyst at the Civitas Institute seized on that image when selecting a cocaine addiction study at Wake Forest University Medical School as number one on a list of the "10 worst federal stimulus projects in North Carolina." Civitas' Brian Balfour takes swipes at projects, writing that they "seem completely unrelated to avoiding an economic 'catastrophe,' but rather an ad hoc satisfaction of countless dubious wish lists."
Here at Dome, we have to admit we made a few jokes (ex. Wouldn't it be more cost-efficient to go after the monkeys' dealer?), and then decided to ask: exactly what is the $71,623 federal stimulus grant paying for?
Well, a job, said Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
"It's actually the continuation of a job that might not still be there if it hadn't been for the stimulus funding. And it's a good job," Wright said. "It's also very worthwhile research."
The study is examining the effects of cocaine on a particular neurotransmitter among monkeys who have had a long-term addiction to cocaine. That means the animals were not newly acquired for the study.
The medical school boasts a significant body of work studying addiction. Ultimately, the study in question could lead to better treatment for recovering cocaine addicts.
So, Wright said, for a relatively small amount of money, a researcher stays employed and helps add to the body of knowledge about cocaine abuse.