A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.



Bone collector

In the Winter 2015 edition of Brown Medicine, there is an article by Kris Cambra (“The Past Is Present”) about the wonders to be found in the basement of the Biomed Center.

As a freshman at Brown in 1968-1969, I was employed by Dr. George Erikson to measure the bones for research that he was doing on primates. While he was at Harvard prior to coming to Brown, he was famous (or infamous in today’s parlance) for taking trips to the Amazon rainforest. His express purpose in doing this was to “collect” specimens of various primates so that he could compare their bone structure. In the vernacular, this involved shooting the monkeys and preserving them long enough to get them back to the lab in Cambridge. I will leave to your imagination how the bones were cleaned and dissected, and to be fair I was not involved with that part of the process. I do remember sitting in a windowless room in the anatomy area, measuring monkey bones for about $2.50 an hour. I also remember him talking frequently about “the fire,” which occurred sometime while he was at Harvard and which apparently destroyed numerous specimens. He did salvage some of them, which is why they may look a bit fried…

Pardon R. Kenney ’72
MMS’75 MD’75 RES’80,P’03


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