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“Veil of Silence” Over Animal Testing at Vanderbilt

September 29, 2010

From Care2
By Mac McDaniel

Animal testing at Vanderbilt University is evidently on a need-to-know basis.

Jon Christian, the editor-in-chief of Orbis, the progressive VU newspaper wrote about what he called the “veil of silence” over Vanderbilt’s animal testing program.

According to Christian, university staff associated with animal testing “quickly terminated” their phone calls with him, refused to return his messages, and everyone says they are prohibited from talking with the press.

There is only one person at VU authorized to speak to the press, and he does so by press releases and official statements.

The only person who agreed to speak with Christian was a board member from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and she did so only under condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Everyone assured Christian the conditions of animals in the VU laboratories were at the industry standard, even the anonymous IACUC board member.

But VU has been fined for Animal Welfare violations three years in a row.

People associated with the VU animal testing department cited the threat of activism by the Animal Rights community as a reason for keeping their information under lock and key. But does an institution that receives public funds have the luxury of opacity? The public has a right to knowledge of how its taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Any industry that tortures and kills animals will benefit from hiding the details from us, but opacity is a luxury they don’t deserve. And transparency is their responsibility to the public.

In the process of writing his story, an official who refused to identify himself ordered Christian out of a building in which he was taking photographs, even though he legally had the right to be there and take photographs. Researchers were warned about Christian and told not to speak to him.

So why does Vanderbilt not want the public to know what goes on in their laboratories? Are they worried that even if they really were conforming to industry standards for the treatment of their animals (their AW violations says otherwise) that the public would see that even the industry standard is still horrifying.

The truth is there is no way to test on animals that isn’t cruel, horrifying and unnecessary. Laboratories have a vested interest in opacity, as it keeps the public unaware of the callous nature of their experiments. If the public were aware of how their public funds were being spent to torture animals, would they so willingly support Vanderbilt? It’s doubtful.

Any industry that tortures and kills animals will benefit from hiding the details from us, but opacity is a luxury they don’t deserve. And transparency is their responsibility to the public.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Please send polite letters to Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos. Demand that experiments be suspended immediately and ask that a thorough review be conducted with regard to the repeated misconduct toward animals. Encourage Chancellor Zeppos to accept the legitimacy, efficacy, and superior methods of non-animal research:

Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos
Phone: (615) 322-1813
Fax: 322-6060
211 Kirkland Hall
Nashville, TN 37240

You can also use Vanderbilt’s general contact form found HERE


Please contact Vanderbilt University School of Medicine dean Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D., and ask him to replace the use of pigs in all Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses with validated nonanimal training methods. Please click HERE to send an automatic message.

Or you can contact him directly at the following:

Balser, Jeffrey R., M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, Vanderbilt School of Medicine
Professor of Anesthesiology
Professor of Pharmacology
Professor of Medicine

Lab Url:

Phone Number: (615) 936-3030



Dear Dr. Balser:

I am disturbed after discovering that Vanderbilt University School of Medicine uses living pigs during Advanced Trauma Life Support courses. I would respectfully request you to acknowledge that, although the pigs may be anesthetized, this subjects them to immense suffering. Pigs are marvelously intelligent and sentient beings, capable of thought, love, pain, and fear, and to expose them to this archaic method of training is alarming. In a recently conducted survey, it has been determined that in greater than 90% of similar programs, the TraumaMan System has been utilized (PCRM). The TraumaMan System has been proven a superior model to the live pig model, and I fear any student not trained on the most advanced method will have a diminished learning experience. This should be concerning to any potential patient.

Additionally, since pigs cannot be substituted for human beings, subjecting them to this process reflects a blatant disregard for life; how can we teach our future medical professionals ethics while enforcing a course that maims and kills a live being? This represents a conflict of interest as well as a contradiction in both morals and actions: if pigs are deemed similar enough to humans physiologically, then you must acknowledge that, as sentient beings, pigs should not be exploited and killed either. Any other conclusion would be considered a discord and would serve as a detriment to the learning process, especially in such a critical field of study.

It would be regrettable not being able to recommend your fine institution; however, because I value the most sophisticated and innovative learning techniques, it would be remiss of me to consider Vanderbilt University School of Medicine based on your reliance of such an obsolete method of study. As such, I respectfully ask that you please accept the superior method of study, the TraumaMan System, for your university and students, and make yours an institution of credibility and honor.

I know that your time is limited, and I want to thank you for your attention and consideration.



5 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    September 29, 2010 3:19 pm

    I hate the goddamned human race for this, can’t wait to see their ugly faces when they realize they didn’t get away with any of it.


  2. September 29, 2010 3:38 pm

    This is just evil


  3. Laura permalink
    September 29, 2010 3:45 pm

    Sent the automatic emails, thank you. Wow, when does it end???!!!


  4. September 30, 2010 2:42 am

    Seeing this magnificent,horrifying video makes you cringe at the sadism of countless human beings!
    Knowing what they do:slowly torturing animals,makes you want to hunt these people down and give them the punishment they need!


  5. Johnnie White permalink
    October 1, 2010 9:38 pm

    Every one at that laboratory is a sick and depraved person, if not they would turn away from evil, but they embrace it which makes them evil.. They can tell themselves anything they want to about the good they are doing. Ha! They like what they are doing, but they should all read Romans chapter one. It says in short how ever you judge people, is how you will be judge when the time comes..So these people have judge that the animals should die for them,
    wonder how they will be judged? Wouldn’t want to be them! What they do is cruel and immoral, medically and scientifically wrong. Most schools are using non-animal teaching alternatives. They should be embarrassed by what they do, bet their kids do not know it’s daddie job to kill little animals. Geez, I am embarrassed for them..They are an ab9mination in they eyes of most people.


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