Harvard Professor urges MCI to end animal experiments from its curriculum

New Delhi: A Harvard Medical School professor has written to Medical Council of India asking the board to replace the use of animals for postgraduate medical students with ‘simulation technology’.

John Pawlowski MD, PhD, and a member of the prestigious university since 1987 has asked MCI president, Dr. Jayshree Mehta, to ensure the postgraduate students receive the best training by giving the students simulation technology which is cruelty-free and is “academically superior, widely available, and more cost-effective,” DC reported.

He is also a co-director of the school’s pharmacology course and has designed hundreds of simulation scenarios so far and has taught thousands of students using simulations,

“Technology has advanced, and it’s time that our teaching methods did, too. That’s why the world’s top medical schools – including Harvard, Duke and Yale – rely on pedagogically superior technology, such as computer-assisted learning, clinical exercises, and human-patient simulation technologies instead of animals to train postgraduate medical students,” Dr Pawlowski wrote in his letter.

“I encourage you to fully replace the use of animals in classroom experiments during postgraduate medical courses and take advantage of the many benefits that sophisticated, humane learning tools provide.”

MCI has recently revised its postgraduate syllabus and banned the use of dogs, cats and use amphibians in medical pharmacology and physiology courses but permitted invasive and deadly experiments on rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and mice.

Condemning the new syllabus that permits the use of other animals and deadly experiments on them, PETA India urged the council to end the use of all animals from its curriculum in accordance with existing law and a central government directive.

In its letter to the council, PETA India said that by permitting the use of animals for students training the Council is apparently violating subsections 17(2)(d) and (f) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which states experiments on animals be “avoided wherever it is possible” adding they should not be “performed merely for the purpose of acquiring manual skill”.

PETA also stated that use of animals is also a violation of the 2012 directive of the then Ministry of Environment and Forests, which mandates the “discontinuation of dissection and animal experimentation” for postgraduate medical training.