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Medical College of Wisconsin Piloting Alternative to Live Animal Lab

Despite years of outreach efforts by PCRM, last month, the Medical College of Wisconsin killed more than 30 pigs in its first-year physiology course. But during a recent PCRM demonstration, the college publicly announced for the first time that it began a pilot program that does not use pigs—and may eventually mean an end to animal use at the school.

happy pigOn Feb. 18, outside of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), PCRM cardiologist John Pippin, M.D., led a demonstration urging MCW’s new dean, Jonathan Ravdin, M.D., to explore nonanimal alternatives.

At the demonstration’s conclusion, Dr. Pippin, along with a CBS reporter and cameraman, walked up to the MCW administration building to deliver a letter to Dr. Ravdin. A school representative accepted the letter and announced on camera that MCW has started a human-based pilot program in which physiology students observe patients—as an alternative to animal use.

“The students will be well trained without using animals,” says Dr. Pippin. “They will find the human-based training, rather than the archaic method of cutting up animals, to be not only an equivalent, but superior education in physiology.”

Milwaukee’s Fox and NBC affiliates, as well as the Journal Sentinel, also covered the demonstration, which was attended by PCRM members and other concerned citizens.

Last year, MCW switched from using dogs to pigs in its first-year physiology course. But the switch in species didn’t end the public’s opposition to the use of animals in this class.

More than 90 percent of medical schools have eliminated live animal labs from their curricula altogether. Innovations in medical simulation technology, availability of alternatives, increased awareness of ethical concerns, and a growing acknowledgement that medical training must be human-focused have all facilitated this shift. Only nine out of 148 medical schools in the United States still use live animals in their curricula.

To make this the last year that any animals die in classes at MCW, PCRM will continue to urge MCW to end animal use in its physiology course and completely switch to the superior, human-based alternative it is now piloting.

To learn more about the history of the MCW campaign and watch video of MCW discussing the human-based pilot program, visit

John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

PCRM Online, March 2009

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