Animal Welfare Act Violations at Ivy League Universities

The Physicians Committee

Animal Welfare Act Violations at Ivy League Universities

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A report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
September 2011

Findings | Review Process | Detailed Results | Discussion | Recommendations | References

The Ivy League universities are often lauded as among the best schools in the country,1 receiving thousands of applications from hopeful students2 and billions of dollars of public money in research grants from the National Institutes of Health each year. But do they make the grade when it comes to animal welfare? Researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) developed specific measures—a Research Misconduct Score and a Research Misconduct Index—to evaluate the Ivy League universities on their adherence to the minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act and their stewardship of taxpayer funding through the National Institutes of Health.


PCRM researchers found that all eight Ivy League universities had disturbingly high numbers of Animal Welfare Act violations, many of which were repeat or severe. Based on a PCRM scoring system that weighs the number and severity of violations, the Ivy League schools were ranked from worst to eighth worst:

Ivy League Research Misconduct Report Card
Rank University
Research Misconduct Score
Notable Violations
University of Pennsylvania 120 A dead newborn puppy was found under a kennel floor grate.
Worst (tie)
Princeton University 49 Nonhuman primates were routinely forced to go more than 24 hours without water.
Worst (tie)
Yale University    49 Baboons were burned and blistered when heating pads were substituted for warm water units in an experiment.
4th Worst Harvard University 48 A cage was sent through a mechanical cage washer with a primate still inside. He was found dead.
5th Worst Cornell University 38  A primate’s lungs essentially burst when an important valve was not opened during surgery. The animal died of pulmonary hyperinflation.
6th Worst Brown University 35 Students used animals in surgical experiments not approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Two had to be euthanized.
7th Worst
Dartmouth College 33 An investigator noticed a nonhuman primate so thin his pelvic bones showed. The attending veterinarian had not been notified of this life-threatening weight loss.
8th Worst Columbia University 25 Alternatives to a painful experiment were not even considered.