Doctors and Advocates Urge Wayne State to End Dog Experiments
After two decades of heart failure experiments on dogs, Wayne State University has nothing to share with the tens of thousands of Michiganians and the millions of Americans suffering from heart disease. This is the message the Physicians Committee and dozens of local advocates—including several physicians—shared with attendees of the university’s graduation ceremony in Detroit this May.
“Wayne State is letting down the people of Michigan when it comes to addressing heart disease: the state’s—and the country’s—number-one killer,” said Ryan Merkley, the Physicians Committee’s associate director of research policy.
Wayne State experimenters collect almost $400,000 in funding every year to put dogs through multiple surgeries, artificially create heart failure in the dogs, implant multiple medical devices in their bodies, and force them to run on treadmills.
The surgeries are so invasive and dangerous that as many as 25 percent of the dogs die during or after surgery, before the experiments are completed. All of the dogs who make it through the experiments are then killed. In addition to the invasive procedures, according to records obtained by the Physicians Committee, some dogs endure painful swelling, surgical complications, blood loss, bacterial infections, and cysts.
There is no scientific need for these experiments. Epidemiological studies give scientists insight into the causes of heart failure in humans, and human clinical trials provide treatment and prevention options.
These experiments are even drawing criticism from one of the university’s own faculty members, cardiologist and clinical professor of medicine Joel Kahn, M.D., F.A.C.C. In an open letter on the back of each leaflet, Dr. Kahn writes that he and many others “believe that the dog experiments at Wayne State—which have been conducted for more than two decades—have contributed nothing to improving the health of heart failure patients.”
Dr. Kahn explains, “In my clinical practice I see many of the patients who could benefit from a more human-based approach to heart disease. So much of this public health issue is related to lifestyle and diet, so the millions of dollars that have been poured into the Wayne State dog experiments could be better used on public education and prevention research.”
Director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee, John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.—also a cardiologist—voiced similar concerns: “The data researchers obtain is incomplete and disagrees with what we know about heart disease. There’s nothing to show for these experiments except a pile of dead dogs.”
The Physicians Committee is calling on the Wayne State community to contact the university’s president, M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., to urge him to refocus the school’s research priorities on improving public health.