Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, May 24, 2018

Student campaign blasts animal testing on campus

A group of students is attempting to ban the use of animal testing in experiments at AU’s psychopharmacology lab for studies that are being used to develop treatments for drug abuse.

AU Students Against Animal Testing is a student-led campaign to end animal testing on campus, according to Lauren Reiser, a junior in the School of Public Affairs.

Reiser started AU Students Against Animal Testing when she found out that several research projects on-campus use animal experimentation as a research model.

Birds are exposed to estrogen to study effects on the nervous system in one project, while mice and rats are exposed to cocaine in another project, according to public National Institutes of Health (NIH) records.

Reiser said rats and mice are not accurate models for humans and that there are more humane methods for testing such as in-vitro tests or computer modeling.

Currently, there are eight projects led by four different project leaders being conducted on-campus that are funded by the NIH, according to NIH documents.

“American University follows all required federal regulations regarding the ethical care and use of vertebrate animals in the conduct of its research programs, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian,” Maralee Csellar, associate director of University Communications, said in an email.

The Eagle is not releasing the names of project leaders since Csellar said there have been “documented threats of violence against university personnel and the destruction of research facilities at other universities.”

AU Students Against Animal Testing is not formally recognized as a club by Student Activities, but the campaign is endorsed by the American Vegan Outreach and AU Eco-Sense, Reiser said.

The students are currently collecting signatures to petition the University and will be hosting a seminar on the use of animals for research with members of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine on March 26, Reiser said.

Restricting animal testing would impede scientific research, according to Csellar.

“Faculty members may investigate basic and applied research questions via the use of animal models as part of their exercise of academic freedom,” Csellar said in an email. “To impose restrictions on what our faculty may investigate, in contrast to standard research practices at nearly every other university in the United States, fundamentally alters the contemporary concept of the free exercise of inquiry within an academic community.”

However, AU Students Against Animal Testing believe the harm of animal testing is greater than the benefits.

“The stated goal of animal research is the benefit of human scientific progress,” Reiser said in an email. “It’s a practice that is not only cruel, but outdated and a hindrance to performing research that is explicitly applicable to the human condition.”

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