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  1. News Release

  2. Mar 28, 2023

Rhode Island Physicians and Supporters Urge State Legislators to Put Patients First, End Brown’s Deadly Animal Lab

State House Demonstration Featured Banners, Signs, and Fleet of Billboard Trucks

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Supported by a national medical ethics group, Rhode Island physicians and their supporters gathered outside the State House on Thursday to urge legislators to end Brown University’s controversial use of animals for emergency procedure training. The doctors held banners and signs that read “Our Patients Aren’t Pigs!” and “YES on H 5357” while a fleet of mobile billboard trucks carrying the same messages circled Smith Hill.

Sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter, House Bill 5357 would prohibit medical training programs from using live animals if another accredited training program in the same medical discipline does not use animals, or if an alternative teaching method exists. While Brown and its partner Rhode Island Hospital use pigs to teach emergency medicine physicians, Kent Hospital in Warwick—like nearly every other medical center in the country—does not. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, with more than 17,000 doctor members, has been supporting the local effort to enact H 5357. 

Several physicians in white coats led the demonstration, including Dr. Lynn Taylor, a research professor at the University of Rhode Island who completed her internal medicine residency at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital; Dr. Marge Peppercorn, a board-certified pediatrician who was in private practice for more than 30 years and a graduate of Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Frank Faltus, a retired physician of more than 40 years and a Clinical Assistant Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. All three physicians testified in person or in writing in support of H 5357 before the House Judiciary Committee on March 2. They are now urging the committee and House leadership to send the bill to the full chamber for a vote.

The physicians emphasized that Brown is an extreme outlier among emergency medicine programs. A survey of medical centers in the U.S. and Canada reveals that 97% of such programs (277 of 285) do not use animals. Every other emergency medicine residency in New England exclusively uses human-relevant training methods, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale-New Haven Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Those hospitals use modern devices called simulators, which replicate human anatomy, bleed, breathe, and can even be worn by an actor to mimic a real-life emergency scenario. Simulators also allow for repeated practice. Meanwhile, at Rhode Island Hospital, Brown’s emergency medicine residents cut into and kill pigs to teach a single procedure called a “surgical airway.” 

“In medicine, it is crucial for our patients that we learn and grow, that we keep up with evolving standards of care and science,” said Dr. Taylor. “Rhode Island is falling behind, so it’s crucial that lawmakers do something.” Dr. Taylor also pointed out that scientific studies conducted by civilian physicians and the U.S. military support replacing animals in emergency medicine training.

For an interview with Dr. Taylor or to see the billboard artwork, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] (rpohl[at]pcrm[dot]org).

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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