The American College of Surgeon’s View of Animal Research

In a letter to the editor of the Tribune & Georgian, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Aysha Akhtar responds to a previous letter published in that newspaper attacking PCRM.

Akhtar discusses the current state of animal use in medical schools and writes,

The America [sic] College of Surgeons no longer uses live animals in its clinical training programs and has endorsed the use of simulation technologies to replace live animal use in surgery training programs.

Since Akhtar is so fond of the American College of Surgeons, it might be useful to look at the entirety of their position statement on animals in education and research. The following is the full text of that statement, first adopted in 1991 and then altered slightly in 2002 to reflect changes in federal animal regulations,

The American College of Surgeons supports the responsible use and humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research, education, teaching, and product safety testing in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal animal welfare laws. Further, the membership believes that only as many animals as necessary should be used; that any pain or distress animals may experience should be minimized or alleviated; and that, wherever feasible, alternatives to the use of live animals should be developed and employed.

The American College of Surgeons believes that now and in the foreseeable future it is not possible to completely replace the use of animals and that the study of whole living organisms, tissues, and cells is an indispensable element of biomedical research, education, and teaching.

Certainly the American College of Surgeons has recommended the use of non-animal alternatives for clinical teaching where the non-animal alternatives are equal to or better than traditional animal methods, but the ACS does not share Akhtar’s or PCRM’s view of “the need to move away from using animals in medical research and education.”


Animals are not meant for medical research. Aysha Akhtar, Letter to the Editor, The Tribune & Georgian, March 6, 2007.

Statement on the Use of Animals in Research, Education, and Teaching. American College of Surgeons, 2002.