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  1. News Release

  2. Jun 7, 2019

NDSU-Sanford Trauma Training Program Last in Nation Known To Use Live Animals

FARGO, N.D.—North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Sanford Health’s joint trauma training program is now the last in the United States and Canada known to use animals. Earlier this month, Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., announced that it had ended live animal use in its Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program, as well as in its emergency medicine residency program. 

Baystate staff shared news of the curriculum change with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who this week will send a letter to NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani, PhD, and Sanford Health Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Nate White.

In the ATLS program hosted by NDSU and overseen by Sanford Health staff, invasive procedures are performed on live pigs. Compared to humans, 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.

Apart from NDSU, all other 324 surveyed ATLS programs in the U.S. and Canada exclude live animal use. Programs at Altru Health Systems in Grand Forks and St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck use Simulab’s TraumaMan System—a realistic anatomical human-body simulator with lifelike skin, fat, and muscle. The TraumaMan System is endorsed for ATLS training by the American College of Surgeons, which developed the ATLS course and accredits course providers.

“Prior to 2001, most ATLS courses used animals as teaching tools, but now animal use is nearly vanished,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, director of academic affairs for the Physicians Committee. “We’re urging NDSU and Sanford Health to adopt the new standard and switch to superior, human-relevant training methods.”

For a copy of the letter or to speak with Dr. Pippin, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or

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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