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Introduction to Animal Research Issues . Michael T. Fallon, DVM, PhD, DACLAM Chief VMO, ORD / 404-732-5471. Galen.

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Introduction to animal research issues l.jpg

Introduction to Animal Research Issues

Michael T. Fallon, DVM, PhD, DACLAM

Chief VMO, ORD / 404-732-5471

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150 AD. Galen begins systematic study of animal physiology, vivisection begins. What he learns is used in the practice of human medicine for the next 1000+ years.

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Servetus, Vesalius, Harvey

1600 AD. By studying animals and human cadavers, William Harvey extends descriptions of blood circulation made by Servetus and Vesalius to correctly explain the circulation of blood.

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  • 1871: Professor Henry Bowditch establishes one of the first vivisection laboratories in the country at Harvard's new medical school. It generates criticism from other Harvard faculty and local press.

  • 1895: a group of Boston's most prominent citizens gather to form the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS).

NEAVS' first office at 179A Tremont Street, Boston

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Session at the

Vivisection Laboratory 

Late 1800s. Claude Bernard. Physiologist and prolific author. His students pioneer the use of animals in teaching physiology to medical students

“…the laboratory is the temple of the science of medicine."

“...the solution of a physiologic or pathologic problem often depends solely on the appropriate choice of the animal...”

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Plummer Building, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

  • 1915 The Mayo Clinic hires the first full-time lab animal veterinarian, Simon D. Brimhall.

  • 1916: a NEAVS-sponsored bill to exempt dogs from vivisection in Massachusetts fails to pass.

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1922- Diabetes Death Sentence Lifted

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1946- Beginning of Organized Animal Science

1946 Five Chicago-area vets start meeting monthly to discuss laboratory animal care problems (mid 1980’s photo; missing is Bob Schroeder).

Nate Brewer

Univ of Chicago

Elihu Bond

Univ of Illinois

Robert Flynn

Argonne Nat’l Labs

Ben Cohen

Northwestern Univ

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1950- The Animal Care Panel

Veterinarians organize the first national meeting of the Animal Care Panel (now the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science; AALAS) in Chicago

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Mid to late 1950’s- Beginning of Modern Discipline of Lab Animal Medicine

1954 National Institutes of Health (NIH) opens “modern” central service animal facilities.

1957 Forerunner of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) incorporated.

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1958- Disease Control and Genesis of Barrier Rodent Caging

Dr. Lisbeth Kraft introduced the filter cage system for the control of mouse rotavirus and mouse hepatitis virus infections.

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1961- Animal Care Technician Training and VA Appoints First Chief VMO

Animal Technician Certification Board of Animal Care Panel established. First certification exam given with 70 technicians certified. Creation of the first formal training and certification program for animal care staff.

Dr. Jules Cass appointed the first Chief VMO for VA

Dr. Jules Cass, AALAS President 1957-58, 1961 founding member of AAALAC organizing committee (1975 photo)

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Early to mid 1960’s- NIH Support of National Regional Primate Centers

1960’s meeting of regional primate center directors and NIH officials

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1962- The First Guide

NIH contracts with the Animal Care Panel to produce the Guide for Laboratory Animal Facilities and Care. It is released in 1963.

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1964- AAALAC Arises

The Animal Facilities Accreditation Board of the Animal Care Panel becomes the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC).

1967- First VA animal care program becomes accredited.

1997- Last remaining VA animal care program becomes accredited.

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1965- “Pet Theft” Drives Regulations

In 1965, a pet Dalmation (Pepper) owned by a New York family was missing.

  • The owner recognized his dog in a news photograph of a group of dogs being transported for eventual resale to biomedical research institutions.

  • The dog owner was refused entry to the holding facility by the dealer

  • Appeals by his congressman were also refused; the dog was sacrificed as part of an experiment by a NYC hospital

  • Unhappy, the congressman introduced a bill to regulate the trade of dogs. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate simultaneously.

  • Both bills had only marginal support and might have died in committee except for a supporting event…

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February 1966 Life Magazine- Dog Concentration Camps

Illustrated in a Life Magazine story, a raid on a dog dealer's premises by a Humane Society of the United States agent and the Maryland State Police plays a significant role in creating public pressure for the enactment of the federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966.

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1966- Animal Welfare Act Passed

The [Laboratory] Animal Welfare Act of 1966 passes on a wave of public sentiment which produced thousands of letters to Congress, protesting the alleged theft of pet dogs for sale to research.

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1971- NIH Laboratory Animal Policy Released

  • NIH issues its first “Policy, Care, and Treatment of Laboratory Animals”, applicable to “warm-blooded animals” at institutions receiving or about to receive grant or contract awards.

  • Subsequent revisions in both this policy and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals occur throughout the 1970’s continue, leading to the 1979 requirement that all grantees performing funded work on vertebrates have an approved PHS Assurance on file.

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1982- Silver Spring Monkeys

  • 17 rhesus monkeys kept in small wire cages inside the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, by Dr. Edward Taub, who was researching regeneration of severed nerves with a grant from the NIH.

  • Alex Pacheco, college student, took a summer job caring for the monkeys and took photos of while Taub was on vacation

  • Pacheco arranged for scientists and veterinarians to visit the laboratory secretly, and finally he reported the situation to the state police, who raided the lab under Maryland's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law.

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  • Taub claimed that Pacheco purposely did not clean the cages, but Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty, later set aside by an appellate court

  • NIH revoked Taub’s funding

  • Pacheco co-founded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with Ingrid Newkirk

  • The Supreme Court denied PETA’s request to take custody of the monkeys, which remained under NIH supervision.

  • Taub continued his research, and won three national prizes from national scientific societies, and was named Scholar of the Year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1997.

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1982- Silver Spring Monkeys

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1980’s-Leprosy Research on Armadillos Results in Improved Therapy

Dasypus novemcinctus, the nine-banded armadillo, a nonhuman natural host of the leprosy bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae.

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1985- IACUCs Mandated by Amended Animal Welfare Act, and PHS Policy given Legal Foundation

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) are given responsibility for review of animal care and use activities.

The Health Research Extension Act passes to establish Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Treatment of Laboratory Animals.

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2004 PETA and Columbia University

  • PETA files formal complaint with NY DA’s Office against Columbia University officials

  • Under state law, anyone who “tortures, maims, mutilates, or kills any animal” is guilty of a misdemeanor. While the law exempts “properly” conducted experiments, PETA’s 10-page complaint alleges that primate experiments were not properly conducted and, therefore, are not exempt.

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PETA’s View of the IACUC

Language in PETA’s complaint:

“The IACUC oversees some of the most important safeguards afforded to sentient animals used in laboratory experiments, including the obligation to ensure the propriety of procedures used and scientific justification for the use of the animals. When these safeguards are disregarded, animals suffer horrendously and for absolutely no reason, just as the baboons at Columbia University have suffered, in clear violation of the state cruelty-to-animals statute…”

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So, what does the public think about animal research?

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Public Confidence in Care Given Research Animals


75% of the public believed that medical schools treated laboratory animals as well as pet owners would do so.

50% felt that research rules and regulations were necessary.


74% of the public agreed that the government should regulate "the use of anesthetics and other things to reduce or eliminate pain and suffering."


33% of the public thought that animals used in medical and pharmaceutical research were treated humanely.

S. Plous, Opinion Research on Animal Experimentation: Areas of Support and Concern. (

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1985 Foundation for Biomedical Research Poll

77%of public approved of performing biomedical research on animals.

45%approved of using monkeys.

27%approved of using purpose-bred dogs or cats.

S. Plous, Opinion Research on Animal Experimentation: Areas of Support and Concern. (

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Summary- Public Support of Research

  • A majority of Americans support the general use of animals in biomedical research, but support erodes as the invasiveness of procedures and pain/distress increase, and when primates and companion animals are involved.

  • A majority believe that the government should regulate animal research and that research animals do not receive good care.

  • Public support hinges on expectations that research and husbandry staff will treat animals with respect and dignity, and that institutions will follow the regulations.

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So…the public is becoming more skeptical about animal research and animal rights groups are exerting unrelenting pressure… why bother?

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Nobel Prize in Medicine/Physiology7 of 10 past winners utilized animals

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IED blast and burn injuries

Spinal cord injury

Substance abuse


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  • - Our veterans need and deserve the benefits of animal research to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of their lives.- To deprive them of its benefits is a breach of trust.

  • If VA loses the confidence of the public and Congress to perform ethical and compliant animal research, the veterans are cheated.

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