Animals Win in Texas; Wisconsin Falls Behind
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and its affiliated Scott and White Hospital have joined the growing list of medical schools that no longer use live animal labs in education. Previously, it allowed students to perform surgical techniques on pigs, who were killed afterwards, in a third-year surgery clerkship held at Scott and White. Now, only 14 medical schools in the United States still use live animals to train their students.
Meanwhile, PCRM spent February continuing its efforts to encourage the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) to choose an alternative to killing 60 dogs in a first-year physiology course at the end of the month.
PCRM was joined by the Wisconsin Humane Society and dozens of concerned local residents for several demonstrations at the school. At the first, PCRM senior medical and research adviser Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., delivered to MCW more than 550 petitions signed by physicians around the country opposing the use of animals in medical education. Dr. Akhtar also announced that a coalition of humane societies and rescue organizations in Wisconsin and Minnesota had pledged to take in all 60 dogs if the lab were canceled. The second series of demonstrations was held on February 26, 27, and 28—the days the lab took place.
Additionally, hundreds of caring PCRM members and Milwaukee residents placed phone calls and sent e-mails to MCW President T. Michael Bolger asking him to replace the dogs in the lab with educationally superior non-animal alternatives.
Despite the tremendous community pressure and media attention brought on MCW’s inhumane and scientifically insupportable position, the school refused to cancel the exercise this semester. PCRM’s efforts will continue until no more animals are used for medical education at MCW.
The class involves anesthetizing the dogs, opening their chest cavities, injecting pharmaceuticals, and then killing the animals. Over 85 percent of U.S. medical schools, including Columbia, Stanford, and Yale, have abandoned the use of animals in medical education. Human patient simulators and other human-centered alternatives are the preferred instructional tools. The MCW campus already has four human patient simulators.