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HEART SPECIALIST CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE DOG RESEARCHERS' LICENCES
Posted 6 September 2005
A British university research team that, for 16 years, has conducted lethal experiments on dogs - funded in large part by the British Heart Foundation - has come under scathing attack by a noted US cardiologist.
Since 1989, the Leeds Medical School team has killed around 100 beagle dogs in experiments measuring physiological responses to various experimental heart-related procedures. The Home Office classifies this as 'basic' research, in that it has no direct or immediate human benefit (1). In the experiments, anaesthetised dogs had their chests opened, their spinal cords severed, their blood drained and re-circulated, and nerves to the brain, gut and diaphragm cut.
In his critique (2) of the Leeds experiments, heart specialist and award-winning researcher, Dr. John J. Pippin (3), describes the Leeds Medical School research as 'a startling example of the pursuit of disconnected scientific knowledge with no clear human benefits, and to the detriment of dogs'. He has called on the Home Office to revoke the licence of those involved.
Dr Pippin adds:
"This work provides an exceptional example of a common practice: the manipulation of animal models for convenience and usefulness, regardless of the effects upon the validity of results obtained. This is not uncommon among those researchers who propose and perform studies to satisfy their scientific curiosity and sustain their careers, without sufficient regard for potential applications to humans."
As well as his challenge to the Home Office, Dr Pippin has called upon the British Heart Foundation to demonstrate what - if any - benefits to human health have been produced by the large sums of the public's money given to the researchers.
Dr Pippin was alerted to the team's work by Animal Aid, which turned to an overseas leader in the field because of an intellectual climate in British science that the national campaign group describes as 'punitive in response to those who break ranks and confront the system'.
Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler concludes:
"These many years of cruel and pointless experiments represent a major scandal, for which the licensing authorities at the Home Office are principally to blame. This, like so much animal experimentation, is not about science or helping humans. It is about the search for grants, academic prestige and career development. The British Heart Foundation is also at fault for bankrolling this research. We back Dr Pippin's call for the immediate revocation of the relevant licences."
Notes to Editors
- In 2003, Basic Research made up 30% of all UK animal experiments.
- Dr Pippin's critique of the Leeds experiments - together with background on basic research - has been published in a new Animal Aid report. Called Curiosity Killed the Dog - a report on the use of animals in basic research, it is available here.
- John J Pippin MD graduated from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1980 and subsequently specialised in nuclear cardiology. Among his academic appointments are faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and the Medical College of Virginia. In addition to his numerous scientific publications, he is the recipient of several prestigious awards for clinical and research excellence.
- There were 7,094 experiments using 5,088 dogs in 2003 (mostly for regulatory toxicology). (ref: 2003 HOME OFFICE STATISTICS OF SCIENTIFIC PROCEDURES ON LIVING ANIMALS - Great Britain)