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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE January 16, 2009

Physicians Group Announces

Indianapolis Student and New Orleans Teacher Win $2,000 Prize for Promoting Nonanimal Education Tools; Other Winners in Florida, New York, Wyoming, an

WASHINGTON—As a growing number of schools embrace nonanimal alternatives to dissection, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) announces the winners of the inaugural 2009 Cut Above Awards for Dissection Alternatives.

Thanks to revised policies, modern nonanimal learning methods, and innovative students and teachers, the national trend is toward humane alternatives to dissection. Last year, the National Science Teachers Association, the largest science education association in the world, revised its position to support student dissection choice and to acknowledge the advances in nonanimal learning methods. In August, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill released the first virtual dissection software that uses real images to enable students to "dissect" frogs and earthworms from their computers.

The progress toward humane alternatives continues as PCRM announces the winners of its Cut Above Awards, which honors teachers and students who have taken great leaps to adopt humane alternatives to dissection. This year’s winners are Kara Hairston, a sixth-grader at Belzer Middle School in Indianapolis, who took a strong stand against dissection in her classroom, and biology teacher Ann Smart, science department chair at Cabrini High School in New Orleans, who moved to nonanimal alternatives after realizing dissection was promoting a disrespect for life among her students.

“Studies show that nonanimal methods teach concepts in biology and anatomy just as well or better than animal dissection,” says Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., a PCRM biologist and author of The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives, and Recommendations. “Fortunately, digital dissection, three-dimensional models, and a variety of other dissection alternatives are now showing up in science classrooms across the country.”

PCRM is also recognizing three additional students and three additional teachers for their contributions to this progress in dissection alternatives. This year's outstanding Cut Above runners-up are Tegwyth Alderson-Taber, an eighth-grader in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Allison Carlos, an 11th-grader in Watertown, N.Y.; Emily Indig, a ninth-grader in Manalapan, N.J.; Rich Taedter, a high school principal and teacher in Rawlins, Wyo.; Emily Adams, a science department chair and teacher in Marietta, Ga.; and Sharon Ehrlich, a teacher in Philadelphia.

Kara Hairston and Ann Smart will each receive $2,000, including $1,000 for the winner and $1,000 for her school. To find out more about PCRM’s work to promote dissection alternatives and for more information about the 2009 Cut Above winners and runners-up and their efforts to promote humane education, please visit

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.

Media Contact:
Tara Failey
202-686-2210, ext. 319

Kara Hairston with Cut Above Award

Kara Hairston with "Cut Above" Award

Ann Smart

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