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  1. News Release

  2. Apr 11, 2024

CU Anschutz’s Lethal Use of Animals for Surgery Training Draws Criticism From Physicians

Medical Ethics Group Offers to Pay for Training Demonstration, Places Billboards, and Asks Board of Regents to Take Action

DENVER—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit with more than 17,000 physician members, is in Denver this week to demand an end to what it says is an “unjustifiable” practice: the deadly use of live pigs for surgery training at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The medical ethics group is even offering to foot the bill for an initial demonstration of “perfused” human cadavers that bleed—a value of $13,000.

In a letter sent Thursday to the CU Board of Regents, the Physicians Committee says Anschutz faculty have refused to discuss replacing animals. That’s why the group brought its request to the Regents with billboards around Denver, a public demonstration held downtown, and a delivery of 66,474 petitions from supporters across the country.

During the Regents’ Thursday meeting, Dr. Kerry Foley, a retired emergency medicine physician, said that Anschutz surgery trainees cut into live pigs to practice surgical procedures. According to public records, the animals are killed following the training sessions. The medical ethics group points out that 80% of surveyed surgery programs (215 of 269) in the U.S. use only nonanimal methods—including those affiliated with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, the Cleveland Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic. CU Anschutz itself already has a state-of-the-art facility, the Center for Surgical Innovation, which offers a range of high-fidelity patient simulators, virtual reality trainers, and procedural task trainers that model human anatomy and could replace animals for surgery training.

Prior to the meeting, Dr. Foley was joined by dozens of supporters outside and spoke with media and passersby. The group held banners and signs as drivers honked to show support. Elsewhere in Denver, those traveling south on I-25 or strolling downtown just off Broadway could see billboards that feature a large, close-up portrait of a curious pig and read, “CU Regents: Patients Aren’t Pigs! Stop Killing Animals to Train Surgeons.”

“We’re hopeful that CU’s Regents will use their authority to modernize and humanize medical training in Colorado,” said Dr. Kerry Foley. “The vast majority of medical centers already recognize that cutting up animals doesn’t make you a good surgeon.”

For a copy of the letter to the board, the petition text, the billboard artwork or locations, or photos from the demonstration, 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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