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PCRM Doctors Deliver “Cruelty 101” Petitions to OSU Board

More than 300 neurologists and neurosurgeons asked Ohio State University officials to implement alternatives to an inhumane spinal cord injury course in petitions delivered to OSU President Karen Holbrook at the school’s February 1 board of trustees meeting.

Neurologist and PCRM research advisor Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., along with Daran Haber, M.D., a New Jersey-based anesthesiologist, presented the petitions to Holbrook. They asked her to demonstrate compassion and good science by canceling OSU’s Spinal Cord Injury Techniques course, which is scheduled again for this summer.

The petitions contained the signatures of 301 neurologists and neurosurgeons, including several OSU alumni and a professor emeritus at the university.

PCRM Lantern adDr. Akhtar told the board about the cruelty inflicted on the animals in the course. The animals are subjected to pain so excruciating that they commonly chew through their own muscle. Dr. Akhtar also explained that experimenting on animals is not an effective way to understand human spinal cord injury. There are profound differences both in the type of injuries humans and animals incur and in the way our nervous systems work.  Researchers have spent more than 40 years injuring the spinal cords of thousands of animals, and they have not yet discovered a single proven effective therapy to reverse human spinal cord injury, according to Dr. Akhtar.

Dr. Akhtar and Dr. Haber’s delivery of the petition made the front page of OSU’s student newspaper, The Lantern, and was featured on several local news stations.

Dr. Akhtar said that having over 300 signatures on the petition “speaks to the strength of our position. The course is cruel and unnecessary and needs to be replaced.”

The course is conducted every summer. OSU has a five-year grant for the course, and even if officials refuse to cancel the class before the grant expires, Dr. Akhtar hopes that at the very least “we will have put enough pressure for them to think twice about renewing the grant.”


 PCRM Online, February 2006

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