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Humane research

As one of the physicians who co-signed the complaint against the University's use of kittens and adult cats in pediatrics training, I want to point out that, contrary to the University spokesperson's claims in the Nov. 28 article, "Group protests medical training on cats," it is never necessary to use an animal for this training. Non-animal methods are actually the standard of practice.

In a survey conducted by our organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we found that 94 percent of pediatrics programs use only non-animal methods in training. A large majority of pediatrics residencies use purpose-designed simulators that mimic the airway of a low-birth-weight premature newborn.

Unlike a cat or other animal, these high-tech simulators replicate human anatomy. Studies have demonstrated that those who engage in simulator-based training display great proficiency in intubation, compared with those who practice on animals.

Pediatrics residencies at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Inova Fairfax Hospital and Hospital for Children and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond exclusively use training methods based on human anatomy. It is time for the University to join them.

John J. Pippin\nDirector of Academic Affairs\nPhysicians Committee for Responsible Medicine