Ammons SW. Use of live animals in the curricula of U.S. medical schools in 1994. Academic Medicine.1995 Aug;70(8):740-743

PMID: 7646753


In 1994, the AAMC surveyed the 126 U.S. medical schools to obtain data on live-animal use in the undergraduate medical curriculum. The questions focused entirely on the use of live animals in teaching laboratories that are either required or optional parts of the under-graduate medical curriculum. Seventy-seven of the 125 responding schools used live animals in one or more courses; of the required courses, animals were most often used in physiology Courses (49 schools), followed by surgical clerkships (21) and pharmacology courses (13). A1though these data show that the majority of schools used live animals in their curricula, the data also show that the majority of schools did not use live animals as part of the teaching of any specific course or discipline in 1994. The animals most often used were dogs (54 schools) and pigs (12). Forty-three of the 77 schools that used live animals offered a variety of alternatives to their use. The respondents' data indicate a steady decline in the number of schools using live animals in teaching labs since before 1982. The reasons most often reported for discontinuing live-animal use were expense, changes in curriculum or curriculum focus, and lack of time, faculty, or space. Several other reasons were also listed, but live animals' value in teaching was seldom a factor. Only 15 schools indicated they had experienced harassment, protests, or legal actions arising from their use of live animals in the previous two years. No characteristic (such as geographic location or research intensiveness) was found that was common either to the group of schools that still used live animals in their curricula or to the group that did not; clearly, decisions on the use of live animals were highly dependent on conditions within each institution. More schools may decide not to use live animals in lab exercises. But those institutions that have sufficient human and financial resources will probably continue to view the use of live animals in laboratories as providing valuable learning experiences. Acad. Med. 70(1995):739-743.