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Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Paul Waldau

In principle, the public supports the use of animals in biomedical research to improve human health and well-being. An increasing number of advocacy groups are calling for changes in the way biomedical research is conducted. Despite the protests, use of animals, particularly for newer genetic technologies such as cloning, transgenics, and xenotransplantation, is increasing. Veterinarians—and veterinary schools—are intimately involved in basic biomedical research as well as these cutting edge technologies. Is the practice of animal research more justifiable in a veterinary education setting? Or are there reasons to think that such research on animals raises important ethical issues precisely because it is being carried out in a veterinary school? One argument is that veterinary schools might be the place most suited to research because the levels of care and pain relief are best in such settings.

In this session, we will explore a range of views on animal research and future trends in animal use.

1. Readings

  • Research and Other Animals - Click here for PDF

  • Lancet, April 1994, “Animal Protection and Medical Science”

  • Scientific American, February 1997, “The Benefits and Ethics of Animal Research”

  • British Medical Journal, February 2004, “Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans?”

2. Reflection Journal Assignment

Due at beginning of next session

Looking Back —What do you see as the future of veterinary medicine in the area of research animals?

Looking Forward —What are your thoughts about the relationship of the environmental movement to the healing and research commitments so evident in today’s veterinary medicine?

3. Web Resources

  • - Animal care website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which has responsibility for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

  • - Animal Welfare Information Center of the U.S.D.A.’s National Agricultural Library, providing information on animal care and use in research, education, and testing

  • - Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, a good entry point to the field