James Keen, D.V.M., Ph.D., Advisory Board Member

Dr. Keen is a veterinarian and professor with over a quarter-century of research experience in public health, biomedicine, zoonotic infections, and livestock health and production medicine. He trained in biology (BS, Eastern Kentucky), veterinary medicine (DVM, Illinois), and epidemiology (Ph.D., Illinois).

Dr. Keen is also a government whistleblower. For more than two decades, he worked at USDA’s Agricultural Research Center (ARS-MARC) in Nebraska, where he witnessed extensive wasteful spending and animal abuse. Dr. Keen ultimately blew the whistle to the New York Times. For going public, Dr. Keen was surveilled, banned from MARC, and eventually transferred 90 miles away. The government’s retaliation placed an enormous strain on his personal and professional life.

In 2019, Dr. Keen and WCW struck back with “USDA Kitten Cannibalism: Dog and Cat Meat Markets Abroad. Taxpayer-funded Animal Experimentation at Home.” Our explosive investigation proved how USDA purchased cats and dogs from live animal “wet markets” in China as food for lab kittens abused in a 50-year-old, $22 million Toxoplasmosis experiment at the agency’s Beltsville, M.D., lab. Dr. Keen bombshell investigation was widely covered by NBC News, Washington Post, Time, and many international media outlets.

Thanks in part due to Dr. Keen’s research, WCW ended the largest cat experimentation lab in the entire federal government and retired the survivors. Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL) called it a “decisive victory against government animal abuse and wasteful spending.”

Dr. Keen taught high school science with the US Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, for two years in the 1980s. From 2007 to 2014, he was a consultant on dangerous veterinary pathogens in Azerbaijan and Armenia for the US Department of Defense. Dr. Keen was a Visiting Fellow with the Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School from 2019-2020.