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PCRM 2004: The Year in Review
There’s no doubt about it: 2004 was PCRM’s most exciting year since our founding in 1985. Thanks to the support of our generous members and the help of an ever-growing team of staff and volunteers, PCRM accomplished a staggering amount over the past 12 months. Here are just a few highlights:
Animals in Medical Education: Good News for Dogs and Pigs
After several years of intense campaigning, PCRM’s research department had good reason to cheer when the University of Virginia Medical School dropped its “dog lab” in February. PCRM’s Megha Even, M.S., and several PCRM doctors worked closely with the local Citizens for Humane Medicine to show that students don’t need to kill dogs to learn human surgical skills.
PCRM member Susanna Walsh, M.D., explains nonanimal
alternatives at Duke University School of Medicine.
Alternatives to Dissection: Keeping Frogs out of the Classroom
If Milosz Banbor, PCRM’s new dissection campaign coordinator, has anything to say about it, no budding young science student will ever have to cut up a frog again. Banbor is working with activists, parents, and kids in Arizona, Massachussetts, Michigan, and New Jersey to help pass state legislation that guarantees all students an alternative, more humane, way to learn biology. He’s helped individual kids opt out of dissection classes, organized letter-writing campaigns, placed ads, and arranged for member doctors to meet with legislators. He also orchestrated the distribution of nearly 12,000 anti-dissection posters featuring Survivor winner Jenna Morasca to teens around the country.
Expanded National Medical School Campaign
With UVA under its belt, research staff ramped up its campaign to take on the remaining 22 medical schools that still use live animals to teach human physiology, pharmacology, and/or surgery. (Over the years, PCRM helped convince most of the country’s other 104 medical schools to modernize their teaching methods.) In October, PCRM member Susanna Walsh, M.D., briefed Duke students on humane alternatives to their school’s pig class during a luncheon lecture. Her visit was part of a major PCRM push at Duke that included letters to the dean, ads in the school paper, opinion pieces, and other educational initiatives.
Animals in Toxicity Testing: More than 2,000 Animals Saved
It’s been a long uphill fight, but PCRM made real headway in 2004 in convincing chemical companies and the federal government to reduce the numbers of animals slated for toxicity testing. By combing through test plans, hounding manufacturers, urging federal bureaucrats, and producing scores of scientific critiques, PCRM’s team of toxicologists was able to prevent at least 2,000 deaths.
PCRM Scientists Gaining Influence
Toxicology and research director Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., continues to gain more clout among industry and government decision-makers as he now sits on a national scientific panel and participates in various international symposia as well. PCRM was delighted to add another scientific powerhouse to its team in 2004 when in-vitro toxicologist Sherry Ward, Ph.D., M.B.A., came on board as associate director of toxicology and research. Dr. Ward has extensive research experience in biochemistry, cell biology, and monoclonal antibodies and has worked on the development and validation of human cell-based ocular models. Among other initiatives, she is coordinating a workshop for industry, government, and academia on an alternative to the use of animals for skin toxicity.
Animals in Medical Research: Incentives for Change
Whether they’re testifying at an Institute of Medicine summit on spinal cord research or tabling at a local health fair, PCRM’s research team has one goal in mind—promoting alternatives to the use of animals in medical research. Needless to say, these staffers had a busy year.
Kristie Stoick, M.P.H., for example, coordinated the distribution of 100,000 flyers educating March of Dimes supporters about that charity’s funding of cruel research. She also oversaw the distribution of 7,000 PSAs featuring ER star Noah Wyle pitching the Humane Charity Seal of Approval. (A corresponding Wyle ad campaign ran in dozens of Playbills and other outlets.) And, working with a local animal protection group in Columbus, Stoick organized a massive letter-writing campaign to end a cruel spinal cord injury course at Ohio State University.
PCRM Exposes the Pain of “Routine” Research Procedures
The research team saw other important milestones this year. Among them was the publication of a groundbreaking report on animal suffering by PCRM consultant and ethologist Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D. Appearing in the November issue of Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science, Dr. Balcombe’s paper proves that even the most “routine” laboratory procedures, such as blood drawing and gavage, cause animals enormous stress. Dr. Balcombe presented his findings at scientific conferences in France, England, the United States, and Argentina. And PCRM research consultant and professor Jarrod Bailey, Ph.D., completed work on his paper on interspecies variability in birth defects research. It is slated for publication in 2005.
The Cancer Project: A New Beginning
Since 1991, PCRM has worked to educate the public and the healthcare industry about the relationship between diet and cancer through an innovative program called The Cancer Project. In 2004, that program expanded into a separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization. As a new, separately incorporated affiliate of PCRM, The Cancer Project will continue to advance new approaches to cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research.
Cooking Classes, Videos, Interviews, and More
In 2004, The Cancer Project teamed up with Whole Foods to offer its popular Cooking Classes for Cancer Survivors throughout the D.C. area. (Plans are under way to offer the classes throughout the country.) The Cancer Project also revamped its Web site (www.CancerProject.org), produced a comprehensive Survivor’s Handbook and video package, and did dozens of media interviews on the power of a low-fat vegetarian diet to reduce cancer risk and improve survival. PCRM dietitian Jennifer Reilly, R.D., manages the new organization under the direction of PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D.
Nutrition Advocacy: Taking on the Meat and Dairy Industries
In its “Uncle Sam Wants You…Fat!” Washington Post ad, PCRM challenged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s participation in a $1 million “Dunk and Win” industry campaign to promote
Oreos and milk.
PCRM’s nutrition staff had a challenging, but immensely successful, year. From the mad cow outbreak in January to the September disclosure that the National Education Association was selling out to the Atkins empire, there was no shortage of opportunities to set the world straight about good nutrition. Headed by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., PCRM’s nutrition department did just that. Whether testifying at public hearings, pushing for change within the food industry, or advising congressional staff, this highly credentialed team had one goal in mind: publicizing the multitude of health benefits possible with a low-fat, vegan diet.
Major Successes; Challenges Remain
One of their major efforts—and successes—in 2004 was to educate the public about the dangers of a low-carb, meat-heavy diet. Dr. Lanou and her staff handled hundreds of media interviews and generated dozens of letters to the editor. Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they revamped PCRM’s diet registry for people harmed by these fad diets. Although many Americans are drawn to the Atkins hype, a recent Reuters article partly credited PCRM’s work for the diet’s declining popularity. Other efforts focused on changing government food policy. Dr. Lanou and her team also promoted the health benefits of a vegan diet to the various committees charged with revising the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid.
Nutrition Reports & Reviews: Rethinking the American Diet
Florida elementary school students enjoy soymilk samples offered by PCRM’s Jennifer Reilly, R.D.
In 2004, PCRM’s nutrition team reviewed airport, school, and restaurant menus, encouraging foodservice directors to offer healthier fare, especially vegetarian and vegan options. Amber Green, R.D., Kim Seidl, R.D., and Jennifer Reilly, R.D., compiled the reports, along with nutrition director Amy Lanou, Ph.D. Hundreds of media stories resulted, all communicating the importance of a vegetarian diet. The team also completed several key reports slated for publication in peer-reviewed journals; one review article refutes the commonly held myth that bone health is dependent on dairy consumption. Another summarizes the findings of a PCRM soymilk study conducted in Florida elementary schools.
Nutrition Research: PCRM Tackles Diabetes and Obesity
With U.S. diabetes rates projected to double by 2050, it’s no surprise there’s so much interest in PCRM’s innovative diabetes study. Featured in major media outlets and funded by the National Institutes of Health, PCRM’s study is testing the efficacy of a low-fat, vegan diet for individuals with type 2 diabetes. The project is immense. Throughout 2004, PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., and a multidisciplinary team of providers including Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D., and Trulie Ankerberg-Nobis, M.S., R.D., led 70 diabetes patients through their new dietary patterns. The study, to be completed in 2006, compares a vegan diet to the more typical diet recommendations made by the American Diabetes Association. A previously published PCRM study showed that a vegetarian diet reduced or eliminated the need for medicines in two-thirds of the study participants.
“Wow, It’s That Easy?” New Study Refutes Myths about Vegan Diets
In other research news, Dr. Barnard published a paper in July proving that a major diet overhaul is easier than most people might imagine. Published in the summer 2004 issue of the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, the study shows that patients easily transition from a standard omnivorous diet to a low-fat, vegan diet. PCRM also established the Washington Center for Clinical Nutrition in 2004; this institute will eventually manage all of PCRM’s clinical nutrition research.
Legal & Legislative Initiatives: Forging New Ground
PCRM senior litigator Dan Kinburn and plantiff Jody Gorran bring suit against the Atkins diet.
Chief legal counsel Mindy Kursban and senior litigator Dan Kinburn scored a major victory in PCRM’s lawsuit over cat experiments once conducted by a veterinarian at Ohio State University. A judge ruled in favor of PCRM, ordering the National Institutes of Health to make public previously withheld details about the gruesome tests. The case upholds the public’s right to know about what goes on in the country’s laboratories.
PCRM’s legal team also won a victory in its case over Tyson Foods’ false advertising claim that its chicken is healthy. And PCRM’s legal team made headlines around the globe in May when it filed a lawsuit against Atkins Nutritionals on behalf of a 53-year-old Florida man who sustained a life-threatening artery blockage after more than two years on the diet.
On the legislative side, the legal team organized briefings and meetings on Capitol Hill to educate congressional staff about various nutrition and animal-research related legislation, including the problems with granting “Big Food” immunity for its part in the nation’s obesity epidemic.
Our heartfelt thanks to some of the many doctors and other health professionals who helped us during this past year.
Aysha Akhtar, M.D.
Aurora Alberti, M.D.
Carolina Amador, M.D.
Frederick W. Ammerman, D.O.
Michael Andrews, M.D.
Zarin Azar, M.D.
Ronald S. Banner, M.D.
Diane Bedrosian, M.D.
Douglas B. Bell, M.D.
Carroll J. Bellis, M.D., Ph.D.
Patricia Bertron, R.D.
David Bullock, D.O.
Cynthia Churchill, M.D.
Elizabeth Conrey, R.D., Ph.D.
Marjorie Cramer, M.D.
Michele Dodman, D.O.
Sarah Ellis, R.D.
Moneim Fadali, M.D.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Sanjeev Goel, M.D.
Patrice Green, M.D., R.N.
Roger Greenlaw, M.D.
Daran W. Haber, M.D.
William Harris, M.D.
Madeleine Jacobs, M.D.
Samuel L. Jacobs, M.D.
Michael Jacobson, Ph.D.
James Kanter, M.D.
David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H.
Stephen Kaufman, M.D.
Margaret Kordylewska, M.D.
Lawrence Haruo Kushi, Sc.D.
Nancy Loewen, R.N.
Dan Maloney, M.D.
John McDougall, M.D.
Gerard D. McLane, Dr.P.H.
Milton Mills, M.D.
Margaret Morin, R.N.
David T. Nash, M.D.
Ana Negrón, M.D.
Josh P. Novic, M.D.
Jules Oaklander, D.O.
David Perlmutter, M.D.
John J. Pippin, M.D.
Cyndi Reeser, R.D., M.P.H.
Richard B. Resnick, M.D.
William C. Roberts, M.D.
Annette M. Roesler, M.D.
Narda D. Robinson, D.O., D.V.M.
Samuel W. Root, M.D.
Safia Rubaii, M.D., ABHM
Amanda Sager, R.D.
Doris Sarni, M.D.
Joan Saxton, M.D.
Leonard B. Segal, M.D.
Jaymie Shanker, M.D.
Michele Simon, J.D., M.P.H.
Don Sloan, M.D.
Richard A. Sorgen, M.D.
Stephen Stigers, M.D., D.M.D.
Diane Tanenbaum, M.D.
Carol A. Tavani, M.D.
Theodore Vickman, M.D.
Susanna M. Walsh, M.D.
Carrie Walters, M.D.
Richard W. Weiskopf, M.D.
Michael P. White, M.D.
Harvey Zarren, M.D.