Marisa Peryer

On Wednesday afternoon, a handful of animal rights activists stood on the corners of Cedar Street and Congress Avenue to protest the use of animal models for research conducted at the Yale School of Medicine.

The protesters claimed that the medical school “tortures” and “murders” animals. Organized by Violet Frith of Guilford, the demonstration was part of World Week for Animals in Labs sponsored by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, an organization dedicated to ending animal research. In interviews with the News, six researchers who passed by the demonstration dismissed the protester’s claims that Yale mistreats animals used for research as inaccurate.

Director of Yale’s Office of Animal Research Support Troy Hallman wrote in an email to the University’s research community on Wednesday that World Week for Animals in Laboratories is “an opportunity for animal rights extremists to coordinate their activities” and that the Yale Police Department was notified of the group’s presence on campus.

Hallman could not be reached for additional comment on the protest.

University spokesperson Karen Peart wrote in an email to the News that Yale laboratories “comply with or exceed all federal regulations and independent accreditation standards.”

“As we continue to advance scientific knowledge and modern medicine, providing hope for millions of patients and their families, Yale scientists will sustain their commitment to the appropriate use of animals in research,” Peart wrote. “Our faculty members employ animals only when there are no alternative models for advancing their research. Yale personnel are extremely diligent and caring about their animal care and use responsibilities.”

At Wednesday’s demonstration, the protesters distributed informational pamphlets to those who passed by them. The handouts included a “Wall of Shame” section that targeted the work of three School of Medicine professors, publishing a paragraph about each faculty members’ research, alongside their email and office phone numbers to encourage those sympathetic to the Society’s cause to contact them.

One of the targeted professors, Jane Taylor, told the News that her research with mice was taken out of context. The group wrote that animals in Taylor’s laboratory are killed and their brains “sliced up” after they have been given alcohol, PCP or cocaine. While Taylor said that this is true, the pamphlet failed to state that the animals were part of addiction studies that could lead to improved patient care.

“They contribute to misinformation because they are making statements that sound much more inflammatory than the actual experiments are,” Taylor said. “As animal researchers, we spend a lot of time trying to do these studies in an extremely humane way, and there are a lot of regulations about what you can do to the animals and for how long.”

School of Medicine resident Vanessa Baratta ’12 said that animal research is critical to developing new medical treatments. Baratta, who conducts animal research at the medical school and passed by the demonstration, said the suggestion that Yale does not treat all animals in a humane way is “absolutely false.”

“To paint me as someone who is a villain or someone who tortures animals, as a researcher, I take personal offense to that,” she said. “I think they should do more research before they hold up a poster making these broad statements that basically vilify research.”

Protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration, such as Tiffany Bourgeois, called for scientists to abandon animal research altogether. Head organizer Frith told the News that she wants scientists to employ alternative methods in their research, such as computer modeling.

A School of Medicine graduate student, who wished to remain anonymous so as to not be associated with the protest, said that he thinks that animals are used in research “too much,” but that some of this use is necessary. He noted that a greater understanding of how animal research is conducted in laboratories might “alleviate some of the stress shown” by protesters at the demonstration.

The group plans to protest again in front of Yale New Haven Hospital on Saturday.

Marisa Peryer | marisa.peryer@yale.edu

  • violet

    Really my big question is if Yale Labs have nothing to hide and are not doing painful tests to animals as they claim, why is there no transparency? Perhaps they really enjoy the influx of getting hundreds of millions of our tax dollars every year to set up horrible experiments on innocent beings and publish their crappy papers. How do they sleep? Why won’t they let people access information- their “It’s Your Yale” website has blocked all information about their medical lab activities. I wonder why? It should be called “It’s really not your Yale- bugger off we like to do what we want and are getting rich” Maybe they should let the public see what’s going on if everything is “in compliance” and “humane” as they claim. Our tax dollars fund this horror to animals and alot of people are really MAD! All they do is write up accident reports and tallies and everything just sails on. No questions asked. They can maim and kill thousands of animals and buy new ones whatever animal they want as if they are going to Walmart to buy shoes and curtains! the problem is animals are not objects and feel pain, grief and perceive it all! Only people totally disconnected from their feelings can test on and torture an innocent breathing being.. I believe this happened to humans in the not too distant past. Testing on live subjects and we called it monstrous. It is the same here and we all know this. They also teach their students that hurting animals is acceptable! no it’s not! but they continue to lie. The animals are kept in the basements and moved around below ground far out of the public’s view! Doesn’t sound like they haVE NOTHING TO HIDE when it is all cloaked in secrecy. Yet we keep hearing these lame, crappy researchers say the same lines year after year ” I don’t hurt the animals, the testing is helping humans, animal testing has saved lives, we follow “humane protocol”. all of this is mostly not true- animals are tortured and killed like they are not beings. after all this time spent testing on mice we can’t transfer results from the mice to humans for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer disease. You would think they would say oh not working- but no it continues because the animals cannot say i don’t want to do this. and they are cheap and easy to get. all this brings in huge revenue for these researchers. They can say anything they want at the ivy league. These animals are used as nothing more than objects to mess with. traumatize and than disposed of in the gas chambers that are in their buildings. thousands and thousands of mice are used and sent to gas- all sentient feeling beings. Primates are locked away in another building -all given terrible tortuous shock and gruesome testing. At Yale labs it’s all business as usual! Not very moral or “humane” as they keep claiming. They can’t look you in the eye. Yet they put out the propaganda that those who care about the animals and want to end their suffering are “extremists” and don’t “know what they are talking about” well gee give us the information, let us see what you’re doing and let us decide -but instead they hide it. HHMM. I think we are capable of seeing clearly. That is some sick twisted mentality and a domination. They dominate over animals as well as information. We know that systematically harming animals in unnecessary ways for profits and curious research for monies is the real extreme and obviously immoral. this culture has continued to persist. This is the real truth and it needs to come out of the basements and tunnels… Also animal models have been proven time again to be unreliable from everything to smoking studies, cancer, diabetes to medicines. Yet they keep doing the same useless testing. horrific. Animals are just cheap and easy to acquire and there is not much regulation as to what you are not allowed to do them. Birds and mice are not even seen as animals or covered under any animal welfare laws. Animals simply are not humans. Many , many of the medicines tested on animals proved deadly for humans. The evidence is all around. If Yale invested in alternative models of research such as other progressive places and stopped lying to the public they would get more results and clean house. We have so many technologies – creating human stem cells to study every disease, computer models, human volunteer studies, cadavers, and so much more all based on HUMANS.! It’s time Yale told the truth to get beyond the torture of innocent lives – the monkeys, dogs, hamsters, pigs, possums, sheep, elk, squirrels and millions of mice you torture every year all need justice. the old ways. of doing things need to change. We can not also continue to be so selfish and be a society running on torturing and enslaving animals because we believe we have the right. Not for food, not for clothing, not for entertainment, profit or testing our medicines, diseases and products. we don’t have the moral right. The continued waste of lives and efforts and funding is tragic. Yale needs to purge themselves of this culture of using animals as slaves for horrific, medieval tortures and get with alternative humane research. They are supposed to be leaders in this country where progressive ideas need to grow. for the future. We animal rights advocates will continue to fight these injustices until every lab cage is empty. Yale you have some reckoning to do.

    • imapuppet

      What violet said. Vivisectors and university spokespersons don’t act like people with nothing to hide.

    • Gerald Ardigliano

      AND Violet these Yale animal modelers ALWAYS avoid pure science debates too! Why? Tax dollars spent should be put to the test to see if the very best research methods that have predictive value are the ones who get the most funding. Very logical but the YDN editors have yet to organize this debate! Will they also censor my legitimate and appropriate reply to you like my last two replies?

    • Gerald Ardigliano

      Censorship and the stunting of free speech by YDN when pure science letters get deleted!!! Do you see now how diseased your mind has become at such a young age???

    • Gerald Ardigliano

      Violet, you should contact the President of Americans For Medical Advancement, Dr. Ray Greek who is the leading authority on animal research from a patient advocacy standpoint only and not the slightest bit animal welfare. He can debate the researchers at Yale using science and science only. When he is finished with his presentation the proof will reveal that about 95-99% of animal research should be ended based on the results of the Human Genome Project along with it’s corresponding Proteome project too.

  • Leah Haut

    The anti vivisection movement is frequently accused of being comprised of emotional and unscientific hysterics. This is a useful myth perpetrated by those who are invested in keeping in place the current wasteful, unproductive system.,
    Vivisection is bad science. The food and drug administration reports that 92 out of 100 test that pass animal tests fail in humans, because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people.
    It’s also wasteful. Animal experiments prolong the suffering of people waiting for effective cures by misleading experimenters and squandering precious time, money and resources that could have been spent on human-relevant research.
    Animal research is archaic, forward-thinking scientists have developed humane, modern, and effective non-animal research methods, including human-based micro dosing, in vitro technology, human-patient simulators, and sophisticated computer modeling, that are cheaper, faster, and more accurate than animal tests.
    The vast majority of animal testing is frivolous and unnecessary; the world doesn’t need another eyeliner, hand soap, food ingredient, drug for erectile dysfunction, or pesticide so badly that it should come at the expense of animals’ lives.
    During a government meeting about funding for research, former U.S. National Institutes of Health director Dr. Elias Zerhouni admitted that experimenting on animals to help humans has been a major failure. He told his colleagues,
    “We have moved away from studying human disease in humans. … We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included. … The problem is that [animal testing] hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. … We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans.”
    Harvard’s Wyss institute has created “organs-on-chips” that contain human cells grown in a state-of-the-art system to mimic the structure and function of human organs and organ systems. The chips can be used instead of animals in disease research, drug testing, and toxicity testing and have been shown to replicate human physiology, diseases, and drug responses more accurately than crude animal experiments do. Some companies, such as the HµRel Corporation, have already turned these chips into products that other researchers can use in place of animals.
    A variety of cell-based tests and tissue models can be used to assess the safety of drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products. CeeTox (bought by Cyprotex) developed a method to assess the potential of a substance to cause a skin allergy in humans that incorporates MatTek’s EpiDermTM Tissue Model—a 3-dimensional, human cell–derived skin model that replicates key traits of normal human skin. It replaces the use of guinea pigs or mice, who would have been injected with a substance or had it applied to their shaved skin to determine an allergic response. MatTek’s EpiDerm™ is also being used to replace rabbits in painful, prolonged experiments that have traditionally been used to evaluate chemicals for their ability to corrode or irritate the skin.
    Researchers at the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing developed five different tests that use human blood cells to detect contaminants in drugs that cause a potentially dangerous fever response when they enter the body. The non-animal methods replace the crude use of rabbits in this painful procedure.
    Computer (in silico) modeling:uses a wide range of sophisticated computer models that simulate human biology and the progression of developing diseases. Studies show that these models can accurately predict the ways that new drugs will react in the human body and replace the use of animals in exploratory research and many standard drug tests.
    Quantitative structure-activity relationships, (QSARs) are computer-based techniques that can replace animal tests by making sophisticated estimates of a substance’s likelihood of being hazardous, based on its similarity to existing substances and our knowledge of human biology. Companies and governments are increasingly using QSAR tools to avoid animal testing of chemicals.
    A method called “micro dosing” can provide vital information on the safety of an experimental drug and how it is metabolized in humans prior to large-scale human trials. Volunteers are given an extremely small one-time drug dose, and sophisticated imaging techniques are used to monitor how the drug behaves in the body. Micro dosing can replace certain tests on animals and help screen out drug compounds that won’t work in humans so that they won’t needlessly advance to government-required animal testing.
    Advanced brain imaging and recording techniques—such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), with human volunteers can be used to replace archaic experiments in which rats, cats, and monkeys have their brains damaged. These modern techniques allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron (as in the case of intracranial electroencephalography), and researchers can even temporarily and reversibly induce brain disorders using trans cranial magnetic stimulation.
    Strikingly life-like computerized human-patient simulators that breathe, bleed, convulse, talk, and even “die” have been shown to teach students physiology and pharmacology better than crude exercises that involve cutting up animals. The most high-tech simulators mimic illnesses and injuries and give the appropriate biological response to medical interventions and injections of medications. Ninety-seven percent of medical schools across the U.S. have completely replaced the use of animal laboratories in medical training with simulators like this, as well as virtual-reality systems, computer simulators, and supervised clinical experience.
    For more advanced medical training, systems like Trauma Man—which replicates a breathing, bleeding human torso and has realistic layers of skin and tissue, ribs, and internal organs—are widely used to teach emergency surgical procedures and have been shown in numerous studies to impart lifesaving skills better than courses that require students to cut into live pigs, goats, or dogs.
    Furthermore, in their effort to secure research funds, expand the territorial boundaries and influence of their laboratories, or simply maintain their employment, it is common practice for biomedical researchers to generate an endless series of experiments. They do so by devising minor variations on a common theme, redefining previous work, subdividing one problem into multiple parts, or manipulating new technology and equipment to answer old or irrelevant questions. Such practices are endemic in such fields as experimental psychology, substance abuse/addiction, and most of the neuroscience and transplantation protocols. Yet, by their very design, these experiments do little to improve human or animal lives.

  • Leah Haut

    The anti vivisection movement is frequently accused of being comprised of emotional and unscientific hysterics. This is a useful myth perpetrated by those who are invested in keeping in place the current wasteful, unproductive system.,
    Vivisection is bad science. The food and drug administration reports that 92 out of 100 test that pass animal tests fail in humans, because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people.
    It’s also wasteful. Animal experiments prolong the suffering of people waiting for effective cures by misleading experimenters and squandering precious time, money and resources that could have been spent on human-relevant research.
    Animal research is archaic, forward-thinking scientists have developed humane, modern, and effective non-animal research methods, including human-based micro dosing, in vitro technology, human-patient simulators, and sophisticated computer modeling, that are cheaper, faster, and more accurate than animal tests.
    The vast majority of animal testing is frivolous and unnecessary; the world doesn’t need another eyeliner, hand soap, food ingredient, drug for erectile dysfunction, or pesticide so badly that it should come at the expense of animals’ lives.
    During a government meeting about funding for research, former U.S. National Institutes of Health director Dr. Elias Zerhouni admitted that experimenting on animals to help humans has been a major failure. He told his colleagues,
    “We have moved away from studying human disease in humans. … We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included. … The problem is that [animal testing] hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. … We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans.”
    Harvard’s Wyss institute has created “organs-on-chips” that contain human cells grown in a state-of-the-art system to mimic the structure and function of human organs and organ systems. The chips can be used instead of animals in disease research, drug testing, and toxicity testing and have been shown to replicate human physiology, diseases, and drug responses more accurately than crude animal experiments do. Some companies, such as the HµRel Corporation, have already turned these chips into products that other researchers can use in place of animals.
    A variety of cell-based tests and tissue models can be used to assess the safety of drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products. CeeTox (bought by Cyprotex) developed a method to assess the potential of a substance to cause a skin allergy in humans that incorporates MatTek’s EpiDermTM Tissue Model—a 3-dimensional, human cell–derived skin model that replicates key traits of normal human skin. It replaces the use of guinea pigs or mice, who would have been injected with a substance or had it applied to their shaved skin to determine an allergic response. MatTek’s EpiDerm™ is also being used to replace rabbits in painful, prolonged experiments that have traditionally been used to evaluate chemicals for their ability to corrode or irritate the skin.
    Researchers at the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing developed five different tests that use human blood cells to detect contaminants in drugs that cause a potentially dangerous fever response when they enter the body. The non-animal methods replace the crude use of rabbits in this painful procedure.
    Computer (in silico) modeling:uses a wide range of sophisticated computer models that simulate human biology and the progression of developing diseases. Studies show that these models can accurately predict the ways that new drugs will react in the human body and replace the use of animals in exploratory research and many standard drug tests.
    Quantitative structure-activity relationships, (QSARs) are computer-based techniques that can replace animal tests by making sophisticated estimates of a substance’s likelihood of being hazardous, based on its similarity to existing substances and our knowledge of human biology. Companies and governments are increasingly using QSAR tools to avoid animal testing of chemicals.
    A method called “micro dosing” can provide vital information on the safety of an experimental drug and how it is metabolized in humans prior to large-scale human trials. Volunteers are given an extremely small one-time drug dose, and sophisticated imaging techniques are used to monitor how the drug behaves in the body. Micro dosing can replace certain tests on animals and help screen out drug compounds that won’t work in humans so that they won’t needlessly advance to government-required animal testing.
    Advanced brain imaging and recording techniques—such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), with human volunteers can be used to replace archaic experiments in which rats, cats, and monkeys have their brains damaged. These modern techniques allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron (as in the case of intracranial electroencephalography), and researchers can even temporarily and reversibly induce brain disorders using trans cranial magnetic stimulation.
    Strikingly life-like computerized human-patient simulators that breathe, bleed, convulse, talk, and even “die” have been shown to teach students physiology and pharmacology better than crude exercises that involve cutting up animals. The most high-tech simulators mimic illnesses and injuries and give the appropriate biological response to medical interventions and injections of medications. Ninety-seven percent of medical schools across the U.S. have completely replaced the use of animal laboratories in medical training with simulators like this, as well as virtual-reality systems, computer simulators, and supervised clinical experience.
    For more advanced medical training, systems like Trauma Man—which replicates a breathing, bleeding human torso and has realistic layers of skin and tissue, ribs, and internal organs—are widely used to teach emergency surgical procedures and have been shown in numerous studies to impart lifesaving skills better than courses that require students to cut into live pigs, goats, or dogs.
    Furthermore, in their effort to secure research funds, expand the territorial boundaries and influence of their laboratories, or simply maintain their employment, it is common practice for biomedical researchers to generate an endless series of experiments. They do so by devising minor variations on a common theme, redefining previous work, subdividing one problem into multiple parts, or manipulating new technology and equipment to answer old or irrelevant questions. Such practices are endemic in such fields as experimental psychology, substance abuse/addiction, and most of the neuroscience and transplantation protocols. Yet, by their very design, these experiments do little to improve human or animal lives.

  • Leah Haut

    I have submitted comments three times now, why do you keep rejecting them?

  • Leah Haut

    Why won’t you print my comment?