Doctors Protest Vanderbilt University’s Substandard Use of Animals in Invasive Procedures

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE June 25, 2015
Doctors Protest Vanderbilt University’s Substandard Use of Animals in Invasive Procedures
Physician-Led Demonstration Will Urge the University to “Modernize Medical Training” on June 25; Majority of Surveyed Programs Use Human-Based Methods

NASHVILLE—On June 25, doctors and Nashville-area residents will be outside the Vanderbilt University Medical Center asking the school to end to the use of live pigs and goats in the emergency medicine residency program and switch to human-relevant methods. Protesters will carry signs and banners reading "Vanderbilt: Stop Using Animals to Teach Human Medicine” and “Modernize Medical Training.”

In addition to the demonstration, a billboard and 12 gas pump ads will surround the campus starting on June 23. The billboard, located on I-40 north of Charlotte Avenue, will read, “Warning: You Are Entering Vanderbilt’s Substandard Medical Training Zone!” The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit representing more than 12,000 concerned physicians—are sponsoring the ads and the event.

“By using live animals in training, Vanderbilt University is lagging behind 86 percent of other surveyed emergency medicine residencies that use human-based training methods,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs at the Physicians Committee. “The anatomy of a pig or a goat is vastly different from a human’s, and residents can get a better education using advanced, human-centered technology.”

Emergency medicine training at Vanderbilt University currently involves cutting into live pigs and goats to practice emergency trauma procedures. These procedures involve making incisions into the animal’s chest to insert a tube, placing a catheter in a large vein, and inserting a needle below the breastbone to remove fluid from the sac surrounding the heart. After the training sessions, the animals are killed.

However, superior nonanimal education methods are exclusively used by 86 percent of U.S. emergency medicine residency programs (116 of 134) surveyed by the Physicians Committee. The very same procedures for which Vanderbilt’s emergency medicine residency program uses animals are taught in the university’s Advanced Trauma Life Support program exclusively using human-based medical simulators.

WHAT: A physicians-led demonstration urging Vanderbilt University to improve medical education and stop the substandard use of live animals for emergency medicine residency training

WHO: Marjorie Cramer, M.D., F.A.C.S.; Jane Gumnick, M.D.; Leslie Rudloff, Esq., Nashville-based senior counsel for the Physicians Committee; and concerned members of the public

WHEN: Thursday, June 25, at 11 a.m. CDT

WHERE: The Vanderbilt University Joe and Howard Werthan Building at the intersection of 21st Avenue S. and Medical Center Drive (near the 21st Avenue pedestrian bridge).
For an interview with a physician or for a copy of the billboard or the petition, please contact Dania DePas at 202- 527-7382 or

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 and medical training.