Wisconsin Medical School Ends Its Last Animal Lab
The Medical College of Wisconsin announced to the Physicians Committee this June that it finally ended all animal use in its medical education programs. Members and supporters who sent thousands of e-mails and participated in demonstrations made this a reality.
“You’ll be pleased to know that the Medical College of Wisconsin has restructured the one student physiology lab that used small animals,” wrote a medical school spokesman to John Pippin, M.D., director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “Animals are no longer used in that lab. No animals are used in any of the medical education curriculum at the Medical College of Wisconsin.”
Following is a timeline of the Physicians Committee’s Medical College of Wisconsin campaign:
- February 2006: PCRM sends letters to MCW’s leadership explaining the benefits of replacing animal use for physiology teaching and asking MCW to incorporate this change into its curriculum.
- March 2006: PCRM sends a letter to MCW’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) requesting that the oversight body deny the use of animals to teach physiology due to the availability of equivalent or superior nonanimal alternatives, as required by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
- April 2006: PCRM files a complaint with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting an inspection to determine if the MCW IACUC was noncompliant with the AWA in its approval of this animal use.
- May 2006: APHIS performs the inspection and finds the MCW IACUC in violation of its responsibility to require adequate justification for animal use in the physiology course.
- October 2006: PCRM releases its report entitled “Behind the Curve of Medical Education: The Use of Animals for Physiology Instruction at the Medical College of Wisconsin.”
- January 2007: “Don’t put man’s best friend under the knife. Stop the Medical College of Wisconsin’s dog lab,” urge PCRM billboards in Milwaukee.
- February 2007: PCRM and members demonstrate at MCW to save 60 dogs and urge students not to participate in the live animal lab.
- Fall 2007: MCW discloses that live pigs will replace live dogs for the first-year physiology course.
- January 2008: “First, do no harm. Stop the Medical College of Wisconsin live animal lab,” urge PCRM billboards in Milwaukee that call for an end to MCW’s use of live pigs.
- February 2008: One hundred people attend a PCRM-led educational demonstration outside MCW on the first day of the live animal laboratory.
- January 2009: PCRM billboards in Milwaukee again call for an end to MCW’s use of live pigs.
- February 2009: PCRM leads a demonstration urging MCW’s new dean to explore nonanimal alternatives. At the demonstration’s conclusion, MCW announces that it has started a pilot program in which medical students observe human patients as an alternative to animal use.
- February 2010: MCW announces a permanent end to the use of live pigs in its first-year physiology course.
- June 2012: MCW announced that animal labs would not be used while the new curriculum was finalized.
- June 2013: MCW informed the Physicians Committee that one animal lab would be reinstated. Later that month, the
Physicians Committee received confirmation from MCW that it had decided to replace that animal lab and end all animal use for medical student education.