PCRM Helps Medical Schools Switch from Animal Labs to Human-Focused Alternatives
Humane teaching techniques are rapidly replacing the use of animals in medical education—and PCRM’s physicians are playing a critical role in accelerating this important change. This year, eight more schools have added their names to the list of medical schools that no longer use live animals to teach basic concepts in physiology, pharmacology, or surgery. All but 15 of the 125 U.S. medical schools have stopped the use of animal laboratories in education.
East Tennessee State University; Georgetown University School of Medicine; Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans; Mount Sinai School of Medicine; University of California, San Diego School of Medicine; University of Illinois; University of Rochester School of Medicine; and University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio all confirmed this year that they have halted the use of live animals as part of their medical curricula. This development speaks to the increased awareness of compelling ethical and educational reasons to replace animal use.
PCRM’s campaign has helped to convince some of the schools that were most dedicated to using live animal labs to adopt human-focused alternatives. At many top-ranked medical schools, surgery instruction is 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.
PCRM was able to overcome foot-dragging at several schools by working with the schools’ oversight committees and using the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection process and the Freedom of Information Act to push schools to address the animal-use issue. The federal Animal Welfare Act requires schools to consider viable non-animal alternatives when those alternatives are available. The overwhelming use of non-animal teaching methods shows that these alternatives are not only available but are preferred by the vast majority of medical schools.
This regulatory and enforcement strategy has, in some cases, led directly or indirectly to the replacement of live animal use, and in other cases has resulted in schools more actively pursuing alternatives and considering curriculum reform.
PCRM’s campaign to replace live animal use in medical school education will continue until this cruel practice is eliminated.