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Man questions merit of coke monkey study

March 8, 2010 at 5:27 PM

WAKE FOREST, N.C., March 8 (UPI) -- A North Carolina man says a study of cocaine-addicted monkeys at Wake Forest University Medical School is an example of a federal stimulus fund boondoggle.

Brian Balfour, an analyst with Civitas Institute, said the cocaine addition project was in the top spot of the "10 worst federal stimulus projects in North Carolina," The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer said.

The projects, Balfour said, "seem completely unrelated to avoiding an economic 'catastrophe,' but rather

an ad hoc satisfaction of countless dubious wish lists."

Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Wake Forest medical school said part of the $71,623 federal stimulus grant pays for a job. The study is examining the effects of cocaine on a particular neurotransmitter in monkeys with a long-term addiction to cocaine.

"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."

Balfour also cited a Wake Forest study on whether yoga and other non-drug therapies can help alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, the Observer said. The analyst asked how this study would revive the economy.

The study creates jobs, said Nancy Avis, a professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health policy at the medical school. The funding, more than $147,000 over two years, will contribute to the salaries of six people.

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