Skip to main content
  1. News Release

  2. Apr 1, 2021

Doctors’ Billboards Challenge CU Anschutz Surgeon Training

Accompanying Letter to Medical Center Leaders Urges Replacement of Live Animals

ANSCHUTZ, Colo.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a national nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members—is running three billboards in the Denver area that urge the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center (CU Anschutz) to replace the use of live animals in its general surgery residency. Fifteen Colorado doctors have also sent a persuasive letter to John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, the dean of the CU Anschutz School of Medicine.

The ads read “Does CU Anschutz Think You’re a Pig? Stop Using Animals To Teach Human Medicine.” and feature a patient’s point of view in an operating room. One of the billboards is on the south side of East Colfax Ave., near Xanthia St., facing west; another is on the south side of East Alameda Ave., near Havana St., facing west; and a third is located south of I-70 on Quebec St., facing south. 

More than three-quarters of surveyed general surgery residencies in the U.S. use only nonanimal methods like medical simulators and cadavers, to teach residents how to perform essential surgical procedures. Currently, CU Anschutz uses live pigs in its general surgery residency. Compared to the human body, pigs have smaller torsos, lighter limbs, and thicker skin. There are also important differences in the anatomy of the head and neck, internal organs, rib cage, blood vessels, and the airway. Instead of animals, human-based medical simulators and human cadavers are widely used. The simulators accurately replicate human anatomy and physiology and can include layers of lifelike skin, fat, and muscle. 

“Many universities have stopped animal use for medical training as they reassess their protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, director of academic affairs with the Physicians Committee. “We urge leadership to take a closer look at whether this use of animals truly serves trainees and their future patients and to commit to a permanent change to the widely used modern training methods that are designed to simulate the human body with impressive precision.”

For a copy of the letter or the billboard artwork, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at]

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.

More on Ethical Science