The investigation comes in response to PCRM's complaints that OSU ignored federal regulations requiring government-funded research institutions using animals to "minimize pain and distress" "minimize the number of animals used," and to "consider non-animal alternatives."
Nicknamed "Cruelty 101," the OSU spinal injury techniques course requires students to surgically expose the spinal cords of mice and rats--a technique known as laminectomy--and drop weights on them to simulate human spinal cord injuries. Over the course of the three-week class, the 269 injured mice and rats are subjected to additional surgeries, invasive laboratory procedures, and physically demanding behavioral exercises before they are killed. The course is funded in part by NIH.
The university states that the class teaches a 'standardized' methodology for inflicting spinal cord damage.
"These procedures are as unnecessary as they are cruel," says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. "Current spinal injury research using human neural cell lines, impact studies on human cadavers, and clinical trials, make the OSU course not only pointless, but redundant."
While rats and mice are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act, all laboratory animals are guaranteed some measure of protection under provisions of the Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS).
In 2002, PCRM was instrumental in stopping NIH-funded experiments by OSU researcher Dr. Michael Podell, who infected cats with feline immunodeficiency virus and injected them with methamphetamine ("speed
Contact: Howard White
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine