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PCRM Petitions Department of Defense to End Live Animal Use

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Md., is the country’s only military medical school—and it’s also one of the only schools that continues to use and kill live animals in medical student education. PCRM ramped up its campaign to reform medical education at USUHS by filing a petition for enforcement with the Department of Defense (DOD) on July 2. The petition asked for an end to animal use in the school’s curriculum.

A DOD directive renewed in 2005 mandates that nonanimal alternatives be used if they exist. There are nonanimal teaching methods that achieve the educational goals for all of the animal labs offered at USUHS. Many of these alternatives are currently in use at the National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art simulation center operated by USUHS.

pigAccording to the school’s Web site and other documents obtained by PCRM, live animal use at USUHS includes:

  • A live pig lab offered to third-year medical students as part of a surgery rotation. At the end of this lab, the pigs are killed.
  • A physiology lab using live pigs, offered to first-year medical students. At the end of this lab, the pigs are killed.
  • An intubation lab using live ferrets offered to third-year medical students. Ferrets can suffer fatal injuries during these labs.
  • A parasitology lab using live gerbils, offered to students as a means of studying the disease filariasis. For this lab, the gerbils are killed.
  • A medical zoology lab using live snakes.

The teaching methods used at USUHS impact medical student training at military facilities across the country. For example, Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio also offers a live pig lab (for third-year medical students as part of a surgery rotation) and an intubation lab using live ferrets (for third-year medical students).

The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Associated Press, and the Montgomery Country Gazette covered PCRM’s petition.

Only eight out of 154 allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the United States still use live animals in their curricula. Take action now to help end the live animal labs.


PCRM Online, August 2008

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