BALTIMORE—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—the nonprofit representing more than 12,000 physicians—applauds Johns Hopkins University’s decision to end the use of animals in its medical education training labs. Previously, medical students at Johns Hopkins practiced surgical techniques on live pigs.
“Simply put, pigs and humans do not possess the same anatomy. Students are best trained for their careers in medicine with advanced, human-relevant technology—not with live animals,” said John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs at the Physicians Committee.
Since 2006, the Physicians Committee has urged Johns Hopkins to modernize its methods. The organization has addressed the university with letters from physicians and concerned residents, public transit advertisements, petitions signed by more than 100,000 people, and doctor-led demonstrations. In February 2016, a bill was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates. The bill would have required medical schools in the state to use existing nonanimal methods for training and education.
Johns Hopkins University was the only school in Maryland (and one of only two in the United States and Canada) that used animals for medical education. The University of Maryland School of Medicine provides medical training using simulators and virtual reality techniques, and the Department of Defense’s medical school, Uniformed Services University, in Bethesda, stopped using animals in 2013. However, at Johns Hopkins, medical students were instructed to make incisions in a pig’s abdomen and insert long tubes with cameras, or endoscopes, into the pig’s body. This caused severe injuries, and the pigs were killed after the procedure.
With this decision from Johns Hopkins, the only remaining medical school in the United States and Canada using animals for training is the University of Tennessee College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga, Tenn.
For an interview with John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., please contact Reina Podell at 202-527-7326 or RPodell@PCRM.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.