Jan Moor-Jankowski

Dr Jan Moor-Jankowski grew up in Poland. His mother was a musician. His father was an engineer who loved animals. When Germany invaded Poland at the beginning of the Second World War, Jan’s life changed completely. He spent the rest of the war fighting the Germans and was injured several times. Many years later he still suffered from those injuries.

During the war Jan became a father although he saw his son only once, as a two-week-old baby and didn’t see him again for thirty-five years.

Jan also managed to finish high school during the war. To do this, he had to go to ‘underground’ schools because all the ordinary schools were closed.

After the war, Jan went to Switzerland as a refugee and studied medicine. Later, when he was working in England, as an experiment, he injected monkey cells into his own blood. When his friends found out he was doing such a dangerous thing, they told him that, if he applied to prisons in the United States, he might find one where he would be allowed to inject monkey cells into prisoners.

Jan was shocked by his friends’ suggestion. He lay awake all night thinking about how he would feel if someone did experiments on him without asking his permission. He knew it was wrong to treat prisoners in that way. While he was thinking about all this, he also began thinking about whether it was all right to use monkeys and apes in research. He knew they had feelings similar to humans.

After thinking about it for a long time, Jan decided that it was all right to do experiments on monkeys and apes — but only if the animals were treated kindly and respectfully. He decided it was wrong — as often happened — to allow the animals to die after they had been used in experiments. And he decided that, while they were being used in experiments, the apes and monkeys had to be kept in clean cages, and their cages had to have bars on all sides so they could see each other well. He also decided that it was always wrong to use animals for experiments on cosmetics or poisons. And he said that, as quickly as possible, scientists should find ways of doing all their research without using any animals.

Later, Jan came to the US and, at New York University, he started a laboratory. There, he did important research on human blood diseases. He used apes and monkeys, but he always treated them well.

Because he was kind to animals, Jan was admired by ‘animal rights’ groups. People who belong to these groups believe that it is always wrong to exploit animals for any reason — for food, or clothing, or for scientific research. Although they thought Jan was wrong to do any research on animals, they cooperated with him because they realized he was treating animals better than other researchers.

One day in 1996, Jan got a phone call from an animal rights group in California called “In Defense of Animals.” They complained about his doing cruel experiments on monkeys. When Jan heard what they said, he realized that they were confused. They were talking about experiments that had been done at another laboratory at New York University.

Jan decided to investigate, and he found that, in the experiments, the monkeys had been given "crack cocaine" — a dangerous, illegal drug. He believed that giving "crack" to monkeys was cruel and scientifically useless, so he told the US Department of Agriculture about what was happening. Soon after, the Department of Agriculture told the university it was going to investigate the laboratory — and they told them that they had got their information from Jan. The next day Jan was fired. He was forced to leave his laboratory immediately. The university gave the laboratory to another medical researcher, Dr Frederick Coulston — who had done many experiments giving poisons and cosmetics to monkeys and apes.>

- information from: The New York Times (96.07.07)