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September 28, 2023

University's treatment of animals questioned

By JACK BARTHOLET | April 24, 2014

As Hopkins continues to come under scrutiny for its treatment of laboratory animals, an in-depth investigation by The News-Letter reveals that the University has consistently been found in violation of federal law and government regulations.

The violations surrounding the University’s care for laboratory animals have drawn stark rebukes from animal rights organizations. In response, Hopkins has defended its efforts to curb noncompliance.

Additionally, Hopkins has come under fire for its unorthodox use of live animals as part of its surgical education curriculum at the School of Medicine. The University’s animal-based research in general has also drawn both criticism and praise from all sides of what is a divisive issue.

Hopkins is obliged to submit Animal Welfare Assurances to the Public Health Service of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in order to receive public NIH funding for its animal care and use program. The assurances include pledges to abide by NIH policies governing animal welfare and to self-report any deviations from NIH policy.

Care of the Animals

According to documents obtained by The News-Letter under the Freedom of Information Act, Hopkins self-reported eight separate violations of NIH policies governing animal welfare to the Public Health Service from December 2011 through September 2013. These violations resulted in the deaths of 480 different animals, including one guinea pig, two monkeys, six rats and 471 mice.

The incidents occurred under different circumstances, ranging from researchers deviating from approved protocols to dangerous housing conditions.

In one case, NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) determined that Hopkins employees had neglected to appropriately check that the animals’ watering systems were functional.

“According to the information provided, OLAW understands that 18 mice died after an animal care technician failed to properly set up a watering system on a Friday in February 2012, and the animal care technician on weekend duty failed to determine that the system was working properly over the weekend,” NIH wrote in a letter to the University.

In a similar, separate instance, 24 mice died from dehydration when University personnel failed to notice a leak in a water line.

In June 2013, when a hot water hose burst, another 419 died. NIH chastised the University for having inadequate monitoring capabilities.

“The room did not have an alarm to notify staff when temperature and humidity levels were outside the established parameters,” NIH wrote in a letter to the University.

Hopkins reimbursed NIH for the costs of the publically-funded animals.

In a particularly tragic instance, a female nonhuman primate died after getting her arm caught in between a doorframe and a fence support beam outside. She was unable to escape and died overnight from exposure.

“The presumptive cause of death was stress induced by the limb entrapment with hot outdoor ambient temperature,” NIH wrote in a letter to the University.

Yet in that instance, NIH said that the case was a “highly unusual and unique occurrence” and that no specific steps could be taken to prevent something similar from occurring in the future.

Hopkins has a record of committing violations of NIH policy. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and documents it has obtained from NIH, from August 2005 to April 2008 the University reported 11 serious instances of noncompliance with NIH’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. In 2007, two squirrel monkeys died as a result of dehydration due to a malfunctioning water line and neglected care over Labor Day Weekend. In separate occurrences, two different squirrel monkeys were killed as a result of unsafe lab animal environments.

More grievous violations have been documented as well, Alka Chandna, a senior laboratory oversight specialist at PETA, said in summarizing the noncompliances.

“In violation of federal law, several JHU experimenters deviated from the protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or initiated experiments on animals before the IACUC had even reviewed the protocol. Animals at JHU were harmed as a result of this lackadaisical attitude toward the regulations and guidelines governing the use of animals in laboratories,” Chandna wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “In one case, the experimenter performed a surgical procedure on a mouse of a different age from what was described in the approved protocol. The experimenter had not consulted a veterinarian or the IACUC in making the change, and only when a technician heard the mouse pup ‘squeaking’ during the procedure was it determined that the pup had been insufficiently anesthetized.”

Hopkins has also been cited by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) several times over the last couple of years for violations of federal law — in particular, the Animal Welfare Act.

“The USDA inspects us at least once a year, and it’s totally unannounced,” Dr. Robert Adams, the director of laboratory animal medicine and the associate provost for animal research and resources at Hopkins, said.

The USDA typically spends an entire week at the University reviewing its facilities and practices during the yearly reviews.

“There have been times where they have come and have seen some peeling paint, and they’ll cite us for that, or they’ll see a rusted pipe, and they’ll cite us for that,” Dr. Nancy A. Ator, chair of the University’s IACUC, said.

In a report dated Aug. 27, 2013, Hopkins was cited for five separate violations of the Animal Welfare Act, only two of which were related to the facilities themselves. The other three involved the University’s Animal Care and Use Committee. These violations included the committee’s failure to ensure that protocols were sufficiently detailed, the fact that animals were being used in protocols that had been expired for over a year and the committee’s failure to make sure that a protocol gave a sufficient justification for the number of animals being used.

“Since the IACUC plays a key role in ensuring adherence to federal regulations and guidelines at an institution, the USDA considers IACUC violations to be gravely serious,” Chandna wrote.

Chandna underscored the severity of failures on the part of the IACUC.

“There have been IACUC violations, so violations committed by the oversight committee, which the USDA considers to be gravely serious because the IACUC is considered to be a very important component of oversight in laboratories. And so when there are failures of the IACUC, it means that the oversight system is basically falling down,” Chandna said.

She said that while these types of violations are not necessarily atypical among institutions, they nevertheless represent a particularly grave failure that necessitates correction.

“These types of problems do exist at other universities, there’s no question about it… But I might suggest that rather than comparing with other universities, I think the better question and the easier question to answer is ‘Is this appropriate for the IACUC — which is supposed to be the animals’ last hope for what might be considered humane care, at least what the federal government would consider humane care — is this appropriate for the IACUC to be so negligent, and we of course feel strongly that it is not. In fact, it’s their responsibility, it’s their legally-mandated responsibility, and for the IACUC to have failed so consistently at Hopkins is really, in our view, problematic,” Chandna said.

Other violations cited in prior reports include situations where the University failed to ensure that personnel working with animals had the proper qualifications and the failure to practice proper veterinary care for animals suffering from painful lesions.

One violation that APHIS cited Hopkins as having committed in a report dated May 22, 2012 pertained to the psychological welfare of animals.

“Certain nonhuman primates must be provided special attention regarding enhancement of their environment, based on the needs of the individual species and in accordance with the instruction of the attending veterinarian,” the report said. “The primate enrichment plan and the study protocols call for pair or group housing in the majority of animals, however, many animals were singly housed at the time of inspection.”

Chandna also underscored the importance of social interactions among primates.

“It’s bad enough — and this is acknowledged by primatologists — it’s bad enough when primates don’t have... contact with other monkeys. They are a social species just like us, and it’s considered psychologically devastating for them not to have social contact. And yet, there were these primates at Hopkins who were absolutely deprived. It would be like putting a human in isolation… And it’s well acknowledged that that’s considered even more devastating and torturous than actual physical torture,” she said.

For their part, University officials defended their care of animals.

“Well, the way the program is set up is responsive to the requirements of the Public Health Service and the Animal Welfare Act,” Ator said.

Ator and Adams said that their self-reporting of noncompliance to NIH (which is not related to Animal Welfare Act violations cited by the USDA) is based upon the philosophy that the more they report, the better off the University will be.

“We’re reporting everything,” Adams said. “I think the way we do it now is we report everything and let them decide if it’s a minor thing that wasn’t a big deal. And so I think you’d probably see over the years that we’ve reported more, but I’m not sure that it was because there was more happening. I think we’re just more cognizant that we have to report them all.”

Ator said that she believes Hopkins to be no more delinquent than other institutions, relative to its size, based upon her conversations with NIH officials.

“I once asked one of my contacts there — I think that was a year I was worried, you know, there may have been four or five [reports of noncompliance] — I said, ‘How do we look? How do we look in comparison to other institutions?’ And he said, ‘Well, the size of the program that you all have, the number of issues that you report is, in a way’ I don’t know if he said ‘to be expected,’ but in other words, is not problematic… In his point of view, we are doing what we need to do,” Ator said.

She also added that any institution like Hopkins will inherently have violations that need to be addressed.

“A program that never reports anything, they don’t believe that that’s true. You know, human nature, good employees, bad employees, people screwing up, labs and equipment, facility issues — they are going to happen. And what they want to see is that we recognize that we have an obligation, this is to PHS by virtue of our public funding, we have an obligation to follow their program, their requirements, and report. And frankly I’ve said, I really don’t feel uncomfortable at all calling them and reporting things because it really comes across as feedback from them as well as training me better in the things I need to know as reportable or not reportable,” Ator said.

Ator and Adams highlighted their efforts to reduce violations of federal law, NIH regulations and University policy through educational programs for those working with animals and a disposition to act not as a stern enforcer, but rather as a resource. For example, they hold two workshops on rodent handling and rodent surgery every other month on an annual basis.

“Another thing I think is good about our program is that our budget was such that when I took over, that I wanted to use it to give something back to the researchers,” Ator said. “So we have increasing demands, regulatory demands, on how they have to do their protocols, what things they have to get approvals for, and I wanted to be able to do something that would be a return to them on the indirect costs that they bring into the University is the way I thought of it. So we have two workshops that we run every other month year-round that we’ve run for a decade now on rodent handling and one on rodent surgery. And they’re kept small, like 10 people max, where the veterinarians work with our staff to teach new people coming in — students or staff, whoever — how to do things that they’ll need to do in general if they’re going to be working with rodents, which are the primary types of species that are used to teach them. Because that is another part of the mandate in the federal requirements, is that the University is responsible for assuring that the people who are doing the work know how to handle the animals and how to do what they’re going to do.”

“What we do really try to foster is an atmosphere where we’re not police, we’re colleagues and we want to all work together to prevent things like this. And we found that that was my belief that this is the only way to have people feel comfortable talking to you about their problems because it’s the biggest problem for us and the oversight of the program if nobody wants to tell us anything,” Ator added.

In 2005, Hopkins reached a settlement with the USDA, agreeing to pay $25,000 in fines for animal welfare violations.

Unorthodox Medical School Program

In addition to the University’s care for animals, critics have argued that the way Hopkins uses animals in education and research is inappropriate.

According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), Hopkins is only one of two medical schools in the United States and Canada that uses live animals in educational programs to teach medical students surgical techniques. The other medical school is the University of Tennessee, which only permits the practice at its Chattanooga Campus.

“So, here is Johns Hopkins Medical School, a revered, respected, top-tier medical school in the U.S., and they are partnered with the Chattanooga Campus of the University of Tennessee — that’s one of three Tennessee campuses — they use animals to train medical students in surgery techniques. It’s absurd on the face of it,” Dr. John Pippin, PCRM’s director of academic affairs, said.

Adams contended that PCRM’s statistics are not an accurate reflection of medical schools’ practices.

“Well that’s not true,” Adams said. “Unfortunately the organization you got that information from is very selective in what they do. After that came out, I polled my colleagues, and I got better numbers. There are more institutions that use them.”

Yet Pippin countered Adams’ claims.

“They’re lying to you,” Pippin said. “We have proof. Out of 187 accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, we have the entire list — we’ve contacted every one of them, some of them several times — medical schools in the U.S., well Canada ended this some time ago, but medical schools in the U.S. have been ending animal use at a steady pace for a number of years, such that now only four of those 187 programs in the U.S. and Canada use animals. Only two use animals to train medical students regarding surgery techniques.”

Pippin chalked up the University’s refutation of PCRM’s statistics as nothing more than an attempt to save face.

“What you were told is false and is an attempt to deflect from the fact that Hopkins is far behind the curve in educating medical students in surgery,” he said.

Hopkins administrators widely cited student feedback as driving their continued support for the use of live animals in the surgical educational program, where junior medical students perform dummy surgery on anesthetized pigs.

“We’re well aware that there are different points of view about the value of that and the importance of that [using animals for medical training], and last year… [we] were asked to attend a meeting of the education committee of the School of Medicine where this was one of the topics that they discussed, the value of that course and a review of it, and there were a couple presentations on the program. And the best part, in a way, was the student who agreed to give the talk about the value of it. And they had done their own survey among themselves and with former students, and they were really quite adamant that that experience with a live animal was invaluable in their medical training — that simulations can only go so far. You know, talking to the M.D.'s who teach it and the veterinarians that oversee it, because it has active veterinary input to make sure that everything is done appropriately, the veterinarians — I know one of them in particular who said to me how the students really engage and realize how significant it is to be working with a live animal,” Ator said.

Likewise, Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein, the School of Medicine’s vice dean for education, said that irrespective of other medical schools’ programs, Hopkins was retaining their live animal surgical training program because of input from students.

“I can’t speak for other medical schools, but I can say that our students highly value our surgical training courses,” Ziegelstein wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Hopkins administrators said that the focus was on education.

“The use of animals in our education component of the School of Medicine is something that is a perennial issue, but it’s something that, it’s not just about the animals, it is, like Dr. Ator said, about the curriculum and about our standing as a medical school and the value that our current and previous students have felt that it adds to the program,” Audrey Huang, Hopkins Medicine’s director of marketing and communications for research and education, said.

“We are not going to bow to some outside organization that says, well, you’re the only people that do this. We do it because we feel that its appropriate,” Adams added.

In the same vein, Ziegelstein defended the University’s program as being educationally valuable, despite the controversy surrounding the use of live animals.

“I would hope that no one believes that controversy alone should be the metric used to decide whether a particular subject is taught, or manner of instruction used, in the curriculum. On the other hand, I recognize that the controversy here stems from a very real concern that caring human beings have for the sanctity of life. I share that concern, and I take this issue seriously. Every aspect of our curriculum is reviewed on a regular basis both internally and externally to make sure that what and how we are teaching allows us to train the next generation of leaders in medicine,” Ziegelstein wrote.

He also said that the usage of live animals brings with it benefits that simulations simply are unable to match.

“Live animals allow students to develop the feel of live tissue. Even more importantly, they teach students the importance of avoiding bleeding that could result in hemodynamic instability in a far more powerful way than simulation,” Ziegelstein wrote. “Similarly, the use of live animals helps students develop the ability to recognize and manage adverse events in a way that simply cannot be taught in the simulation laboratory. Most importantly, though, live animals provide students with unique opportunities for developing specific professional attitudes and values. In particular, many students feel that working with live animals gives them a sense of personal responsibility and accountability for life, and therefore an appreciation for the sanctity of life, to a degree not that no other experience in medical school provides. It is here that the students say they uniquely develop an understanding of the consequence of their actions. The best simulation lab technologies cannot offer this type of training.”

That argument — that using live animals helps students to better appreciate the sanctity of life — is contemptible in eyes of Dr. Martin P. Wasserman, a School of Medicine graduate and former Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene. He also served as the administrator of the Oregon Health Division, is a former faculty member of the Bloomberg School of Public Health and is the former Executive Director of the Maryland State Medical Society.

“We strongly believe that it’s injurious to Hopkins and that Hopkins is demonstrating failed leadership here… [Ziegelstein] came to a different conclusion, stating that medical students thinks it enhances their reverence for life. We said we found that shocking and astonishing,” Wasserman said of himself and his wife, Barbara, who is also a School of Medicine graduate.

“Both Barbara and I are very proud of our medical school education and very proud of the reputation that Hopkins has in the past and current, but we’re highly disappointed with this aspect of the medical school,” Wasserman said.

Pippin also protests to this argument that live animal surgical practices enhances students’ understanding of the sanctity of life.

“If this were not such a serious issue to me, I’d laugh out loud,” Pippin said. “It’s absurd; third year medical students, that’s when they do this. Third year medical students at one of the greatest medical universities on the planet have not figured out the sanctity of life by their third year of medical school, and furthermore they feel the need to kill an animal to learn about the sanctity of life? It’s absurd. It’s shameful. It should be embarrassing for Hopkins to even entertain that notion,” Pippin said.

For his part, Ziegelstein highlighted that the University has made efforts to review the program continuously, and it has reduced animal use in the medical school curriculum by over 60 percent since 2010. He also mentioned that the ethical questions the program poses do not go unexplored.

“[T]he use of live animals in the curriculum occurs in conjunction with a discussion of the ethical issues in the use of animals in medical education. This discussion occurs before students set foot in the animal lab, and it also occurs during and after students are in the animal laboratory,” Ziegelstein wrote.

Chandna countered that the ethics surrounding the issue have progressed beyond the use of live animals.

“What we’re seeing is a reluctance to acknowledge that times have changed, ethics have evolved, and it’s no longer necessary to use live animals to train medical students and to produce perfectly competent surgeons and medical doctors,” Chandna said. “So this sort of comes to the crux of one of the issues that we say at Hopkins. It’s a stellar school, top-notch in many regards, but there seems to be a staunchy attitude and a reluctance to evolve as others have done and a reluctance to use the newest technologies available.”

Chandna also questioned the effects of such programs on students.

“I think ultimately, this is not only ethically problematic from the point of view of the animals, but it probably does a disservice to the students. When we look at studies… we see that students prefer the non-animal method, but they feel that they learn better — that’s a fact, that they’re learning better and retaining the material,” Chandna said.

However, Ziegelstein maintained that live animal instruction is beneficial to students’ educational experiences.

“[E]valuations of the experience by medical students are overwhelmingly positive. Students consistently rate their experience in the animal lab as one of the highlights of their medical school experience,” he wrote.

Ziegelstein said he was trying to make clear that this issue has his fullest attention.

“Perhaps more than anything, though, I want people to know that I recognize that this is a difficult, and highly controversial, issue that demands my greatest attention as Vice Dean. This is what it is receiving,” he wrote.

Ator also aimed to dispel what she perceives as a common misconception that the animals involved in this program are suffering.

“And the other angle that I know that those who are opposed to that when they write about it, they give the impression that the animals are somehow suffering, but the way this is done is the animals are totally anesthetized and handled by nurses who... work with animals. It’s not the students. And those people are overseeing the monitoring of the animal during the procedures, and then the animals do not wake up. And they are purchased entirely, they are made available for purchase for this purpose, so I guess it’s one of those things where that was their destiny,” Ator said.

“Well I suppose it’s the destiny of those animals just as it was the destiny of African Americans to be used in the slave trade and the destiny of my people, Indians in India, to be colonized by the British. So destiny is something that’s created,” Chandna said.

Chandna made the point that destiny implies a predetermined fate, whereas the University is determining the animals’ fates.

“We have to be clear that there are people at Johns Hopkins who are deciding to imprison the animals, they’re deciding to use them in invasive experiments, they’re deciding to poison them with drugs. I mean, these are decisions that are being made. They’re deciding to implant electrodes into monkeys’ brains. This isn’t an issue of some predetermined destiny. These are violent actions that are willfully being carried out by people at Johns Hopkins, and they are receiving taxpayers’ dollars to do those things. So to use the term ‘destiny’ may be poetic to some people, but it’s pretty offensive,” Chandna said.

Animal-Based Research Under Scrutiny

In addition to the controversy surrounding the medical school curriculum, Hopkins has come under fire for its use of animals for research in general.

Hopkins made PETA’s list of the “Ten Worst Laboratories” for its animal usage. Part of PETA’s justification for the University’s inclusion was an experiment conducted by the former provost, Dr. Lloyd Minor.

“Lloyd Minor studies ‘vestibular compensation,’ or how eye movement reacts to sudden high-speed head movements and rotations. He implants metal coils into the eyes of squirrel monkeys and surgically installs steel poles into their skulls, which lock into a special restraint chair. The chair is rapidly spun, exerting tremendous force on the immobilized monkey. In variations, Minor cuts out pieces of their brains to see if ‘lobotomized’ monkeys respond differently to chair spinning. Minor doesn't even bother to pretend that his medieval torture has human applications (which he also conducts on chinchillas), however this project receives almost $500,000 each year from the NI on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders,” PETA wrote at the time.

Minor could not be reached for comment.

Additionally, PETA has sharply criticized the University for certain sex experiments it has been conducting on laboratory animals, particularly mice and rats.

“Johns Hopkins University received $2,792,144 to cut all the skin off live mice's and rats' penises, electrically stimulate the organs for five minutes, and inject the animals with chemicals to see if they could sustain an erection,” PETA wrote in a statement.

Hopkins officials and animal research advocates defend the use of animals in research, branding it essential for medical progress.

“If your moral position is that animals should not be used for any of these purposes, I respect that… I think, and especially having been in the position I’m in in the committee where I see, really, all the research projects that are going on and why they’re being done and what they’re designed to address and the success that people have in addressing this, I think that it’s wrong not to pursue this, to improve people's lives and fight disease, and some of the stuff that’s going on at Hopkins now where people are actually getting the mechanisms of disease propagation, especially in cancer, differentiating among different types of cancer cells through basic research… is just astounding. So I’ve come to really feel that this is vital to the well-being of everybody. You know, people think it’s morally wrong… they’re making their choices, including at some point in their lives or in their children’s lives, to have a procedure that was developed in animal research to save their own life or their loved one's life,” Ator said.

Adams expressed similar sentiments, stressing that animals are only used to advance human health.

“It’s important that people understand that the reason that the animals are here is for biomedical research, and it’s almost always directed towards human health. Now there are spinoffs that help animals in the veterinary field, but that’s not the primary focus. The focus here is human health, using animals to study issues, diseases, syndromes, whatever techniques — things like this,” Adams said.

Chandna argued that while there is an animal welfare argument to be made, it should also be noted that animal research is not effective in terms of human applicability.

“If we care about curing disease, we should also fight against using animals because it does not work,” Chandna said.

She cited a statistic that there is a 92 percent failure rate for drug tests using animals — cases where drugs have tested safe in animals but are not safe in humans.

“The translation does not always exist,” Chandna said.

Pippin expressed similar sentiments.

“[Animal-based research] is still extensive. It is changing to some extent because there is an abundance of evidence that information obtained from human-relevant research is more reliable than evidence obtained from using nonhuman animals, but that is still the predominant method,” Pippin said.

Yet Dr. Cindy A. Buckmaster disagreed, stressing the importance of animals in research. Buckmaster is the chair of the Board of Directors for Americans for Medical Progress, the incoming president of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the vice president of the Texas Society for Biomedical Research, the director of the Center for Comparative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and an associate professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at Baylor.

“Many of the things I’ve read that come from PCRM are not actually factual. What I would characterize nearly everything I’ve seen from that group is a selective portrayal of the truth, so they tend to be very misleading because they have an overarching agenda that is completely opposite from the agenda of animal-based research and biomedical progress. Everything we do is based off of our love for these animals and what we know based on fact is that we all love these animals, we would all rather they were not still necessary for biomedical progress, but for now they are. And that’s just the truth. And so when you ask me to comment on a comment that originated from PCRM, I can’t do that because the entire context of what it is that they’re really trying to push for is buried in an agenda that’s not realistic. And it’s actually very harmful to the public. So the public has been led to believe that this work isn’t still necessary, and I wish that were true,” Buckmaster said.

Buckmaster highlighted that generations of patients with genetic predispositions for diseases have been mislead to believe that animal research is no longer necessary.

“They’ve been convinced by some of these marginal extremists — and I would consider PCRM to be one of those groups — that this work is not necessary. And so now we have these patient groups who are very anti-research. And what they don’t understand is, despite what they’ve heard from the extremists, there are no viable, reliable alternatives to intact living systems. And at some level, still, an intact living system is absolutely necessary to determine safety and effectiveness,” Buckmaster said.

Buckmaster refuted claims that animal research lacks human applicability.

“All you have to do is look around you to know that’s not true. Everywhere I look I see somebody surviving diabetes... or surviving cancer, or I see war veterans who are home and are able to spend the rest of their lives with their loved ones because animal-based research is effective,” Buckmaster said.

Buckmaster said that the final products of research are the result of a long process, usually stretching back several generations, which contributes to what she called misleading statistics.

Still, some argue that animal-based research is no longer necessary.

Pippin highlighted that research methods exist that allow researchers to circumvent using animals. He cited examples such as human cell cultures, human tissue cultures and a new “human on a slide” technology that permits researchers to, he claimed, effectively conduct their research without harming animals.

However, Pippin suggested that research institutions like Hopkins have stuck to the status-quo because it is more profitable for them.

“There is an enormous economic interest structure at work here, there is a strong incentive for universities and researchers not to end animal research. Hopkins is a prime example; Johns Hopkins receives more NIH funding per year than any other university in America… American universities that have substantial research programs involving animals don’t care at all what the research entails or what the animals go through because they depend on the money that comes in,” Pippin said.

Wasserman, the former Maryland secretary of health and mental hygiene and School of Medicine graduate, asserted that animals should only be used when there are no viable alternative methods.

“My first concern is the science. And the science, when I testified [before Congress] was that there are not medically necessary research arguments for the continued use of chimpanzees in research, there are no medical arguments for the continued use of rodents in toxicology research and in cosmetics research in product development. Once you pass that threshold, that there are alternative research models not involving animals, then you go to the next level which is the Hippocratic Oath, which says do no harm, and that do no harm, I believe, extends not only to human life, but to other sentient beings as well,” Wasserman said.

Hopkins has also drawn sharp criticism for refusing to sign a pledge from the Humane Society that it will not harm any animals.

“You may have heard for example that the Humane Society of the United States would like all institutions like us to sign a pledge that no animal would feel any pain, and we’ve refused to sign that for example. So you say ‘Well, why not?’ Well, part of what some people here study [is] pain. And you can’t very well study pain if there’s not gonna be some stimulus that provides something that looks like pain. So we’re very careful; it’s not that this institution isn’t attuned to all these things. We’re just not going to [sign it]. I mean, politically expedient? Sure. We sign that, it would make us look great. Just like not signing it, they can use that against us by saying ‘Well look, Hopkins didn’t sign this.’ But we do it because we are here to study human health issues, and pain, for example, is a big issue. And you can’t study it if you [sign the pledge]. If you sign something that says you’re not gonna do something, then you can’t go ahead and do it,” Adams said.

While both sides agree that their preferred methods would involve no harm to animals, some contend that the current landscape unduly violates the welfare of the animals.

Pippin, a former animal laboratory researcher himself, said that the animals used in laboratories undergo immense discomfort.

“This is hell for animals in laboratories,” he said.


Editor's Note: This is the full version of this article. The article was truncated for our print edition.

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