FENS-SfN JOINT STATEMENT ON THE TREATMENT OF PROFESSOR NIKOS LOGOTHETIS AND HIS COLLEAGUES AT THE MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR BIOLOGICAL CYBERNETICS
The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN)The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN)are extremely dismayed by the treatment of Professor Nikos Logothetis and his colleagues at theMax Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPIK) in Tübingen.
The value of research for wide-reaching scientific and medical advances, including the experimentscarried out at the MPIK, cannot be overstated.
Animal research is of course an emotive topic,however, scientists should be able to depend upon support from their institutes when faced withunfounded attacks from animal rights organisations and public smearing, as in the case of ProfessorLogothetis.
We are aware that Professor Logothetis has been accused of wrongdoing in his animal research andthat some issues may remain under investigation.
Nevertheless, Professor Logothetis has beenexonerated of the majority of the accusations that he initially faced. Even if minor issues remain tobe investigated, it is wrong that he is assumed to be guilty by the Max Planck Society even beforehe has had a chance to defend himself and that he remains tarnished by the earlier allegations thathave proven false.
The treatment of Professor Logothetis and his colleagues by the Max Planck Society sets analarming precedent whereby institutions neglect to support affiliated scientists facing similarunproven accusations and disregard the presumption of innocence.
Moreover, the recentcancellation of the Scientific Advisory Board’s visit to the Institute - a key element of the institute’susual transparent scientific review process - denies Professor Logothetis and his colleagues thepossibility to explain and defend their research.
The withholding of such a review from scientistswho have not faced allegations seems particularly unfair.The scientific community looks to bodies such as the Max Plank Society for leadership and clarity. Inaddition to letters addressed directly to the Max Planck Society, SfN and FENS hereby reiterate theircall on the Max Planck Society to rectify their unfair treatment of Professor Logothetis. Moreover,the society should reinstate the aforementioned scientific review procedure, which is fundamentalfor the research performed at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Furthermore, wecall upon all research institutions to develop mechanisms that will guarantee support for theiraffiliated scientists when targeted in a similar way by animal activists.
The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and the Society for Neuroscience represent morethan 60,000 scientists globally.
FENS and SfN aim to advance neuroscience research and education,support their members and the wider neuroscience community, and facilitate scientific exchange.FENS and SfN strongly advocate the responsible use of animals in biomedical research and work,through their respective committees on animals in research, to promote public awareness andunderstanding of the importance of the use of animals in neuroscience.
Max Planck scientists criticize handling of animal-rights charges against leadingneuroscientist, A. Abbott, Nature, 30th May 2018https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05187-w• Max Planck Society’s actions raise serious concerns about leadership and the future ofGerman neuroscience, Speaking of Research, 7th June 2018https://speakingofresearch.com/2018/06/07/max-planck-societys-actions-raise-seriousconcerns-about-leadership-and-the-future-of-german-neuroscience/• Open Letter Regarding the Max Planck Society’s Actions Against MPI-BC DirectorProf. Logothetis, Speaking of Research, 25th July 2018https://speakingofresearch.com/2018/07/25/open-letter-regarding-the-max-plancksocietys-actions-against-mpi-bc-director-prof-logothetis/
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Link to a review in American J Psychiatry