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  1. News Release

  2. Oct 14, 2021

Doctors’ Group Protests CU Anschutz, Urges School Replace Animals in Deadly Surgeon Training

Signs, Drive-By Billboards Proclaim ‘Stop Using Animals to Teach Human Medicine’

AURORA, Colo.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a national nonprofit with more than 17,000 doctor members—is urging the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Anschutz) to stop the use of live animals in its general surgery residency. On Thursday morning, the group held a demonstration on CU Anschutz’s campus, where trainees practice invasive medical procedures on live pigs. John Lieberman, MD, and members of the public held banners and signs that read “CU Anschutz: Stop Using Animals to Teach Human Medicine. ColoradoDeservesBetter.org,” “Modernize Medical Training,” and “End Animal Use.” In addition, the group coordinated three mobile billboard trucks to circle the campus from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. From 12:45 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., the trucks’ route heads downtown, traversing the 16th Street Mall and passing several local landmarks.

The Physicians Committee’s survey of surgery programs shows that 77% of responsive hospitals and universities do not use animals. In stark contrast, CU Anschutz keeps some pigs alive for 8 weeks after trainees perform invasive surgical procedures on the animals. Instead, these programs use educationally superior methods that accurately replicate human anatomy and physiology. The remarkably lifelike medical simulators can include layers of lifelike skin, fat, and muscle, replicate human anatomy, and simulate bleeding. 

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. The procedures that are taught on pigs must later be relearned on human patients.

CU Anschutz could replace animals quickly using its state-of-the-art Center for Surgical Innovation. The medical campus has eliminated animal use in its medical student, pediatrics, anesthesiology, and Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programs, as well as in its Denver Health-affiliated emergency medicine residency.

“We want to send a message to CU Anschutz that what they are doing is not right educationally or ethically,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, director of academic affairs with the Physicians Committee. “The more the public is aware of this practice, the more they will prevail upon CU Anschutz to replace the use of animals. We all want surgeons trained using modern methods, and that means replacing animals.”

To interview Dr. Pippin or to see the billboard artwork or routes, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] pcrm.org

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH

202-527-7326

rpohl[at]pcrm.org

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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