Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Open forum: Experience proves testing on animals not necessary

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Thank you for publishing Dr. Marion Balsam’s commentary calling on the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to replace its live animal labs with more modern teaching techniques (‘‘Open forum: Military should stop using live animals to train medical students,” March 26).

As a successful neurologist whose medical school training never included the use of animals, I can vouch for how effective the alternatives are. When we studied intubation, physiology and surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, we were able to learn either through computer-based methods, surgical rotations or by performing the procedures on high-tech human simulators, which allowed us to practice over and over again. And by not experimenting on pigs, ferrets or any other animal, we focused instead on human anatomy and physiology.

Given the superiority of human-focused teaching methods and their widespread use at medical schools across America, there is no logical reason for USUHS to continue using animals.

Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H, North Potomac