Most of what we know about
using animals in medical research comes from people who oppose
it. Today the Post-Intelligencer begins a five-part series
looking at the issue from the other side.
Today and this week in the
Opinion section, Northwest physicians and researchers discuss
why, despite vehement objections, there's value in using animals
in medical research.
This is a controversial
topic for many reasons.
For one thing, most of us
have or have had pets. Stories of how animals are abused,
whether they are true or embellished, spark our anger and
Some in society want to
end the practice of using animals for medical research. Others
want to grant to animals the same rights in law enjoyed by
humans. In the extreme, still others believe violence is morally
justified in the name of animal rights.
Last year, animal rights
activists damaged a Washington State University research
facility in Puyallup. At the University of Minnesota, a research
venture into Alzheimer's disease that had been in progress for
decades was damaged by animal rights activists; complex work was
The animal rights movement
is well-funded. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for
example, had a $14 million budget in 1998. Other animal rights
groups also enjoy budgets in the millions of dollars.
Use of animals in medical
research is well-supported with both public and private money.
But scientists and physicians have been reluctant to join the
debate over use of animals, largely because so many in society
accept the use of animals to promote human health and
sophisticated advances in medical treatments. And most
scientists would prefer to do their research rather than devote
time to public relations work promoting their endeavors.
The P-I is
publishing this series of contributed essays so readers can hear
firsthand from the men and women who work in the field. It was
put together through the offices of Susan Adler, executive
director of the Washington Association for Biomedical Research.
More information about the organization may be obtained at the
association's Web site:
-- Samuel R. Sperry,
P-I associate editor/editorial page
Unlocking the secrets of genetic disease
through animal research
by Joseph W. Eschbach, M.D., president, Northwest Association
for Biomedical Research.
Improving medical treatments for animals
by Patrick R. Gavin, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor and chairman of
Veterinary Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine,
Washington State University, Pullman.
Animals are key to discovering new
by Lawrence Corey, M.D., Professor of laboratory medicine and
head of the virology division, University of Washington School
Ethics of using animals in research
by Rev. Delmas Luedke, manager for Spiritual Care at Swedish
Medical Center, Seattle.
How research animals live
by Cynthia Pekow, D.V.M., and clinical assistant professor,
Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Washington.