Duke University Eliminates Animal Labs in Medical Teaching
The number of medical schools using live animals for student training is dwindling quickly. After years of encouragement from PCRM, Duke University has finally joined the nearly 90 percent of U.S. medical schools that have completely eliminated live animals from their undergraduate medical education curricula. The school’s live pig lab was replaced with modern nonanimal teaching methods.
This shift at Duke brings the number of U.S. medical schools that still use live animal labs to only 13. Twenty years ago, live dogs and pigs were commonly used in physiology, pharmacology, and surgery courses. A standard laboratory exercise involved anesthetizing the animal, followed by injecting pharmaceuticals or practicing surgical techniques. The animals were typically killed after the laboratory.
In many top-ranked medical schools, surgery instruction is now focused on the use of simulators such as Simulab’s TraumaMan™ and laparoscopic surgery trainers, as well as didactic teaching, class and small-group case discussions, interactive computer-based methods such as virtual reality programs, and hands-on mentorship opportunities with faculty in anesthesiology, surgery, emergency medicine, and other clinical disciplines.