The Ohio State University (OSU) is hosting a course that many physicians consider a pointless exercise in cruelty. Nicknamed "Cruelty 101," the course attempts to instruct students in spinal cord injury research methods. Unfortunately, students will not be focusing on the newest in vitro cell biology, neural cell imaging, and clinical research techniques. Instead, OSU neurologists are teaching the students how to systematically injure the spinal cords of rats and mice using a weight dropped on the animal's exposed spinal cord and then to put the animals through behavioral tests and surgical manipulations.

Over the course of the three-week class, the 269 injured mice and rats are subjected to additional surgeries, invasive laboratory procedures, and physically demanding behavioral exercises before they are killed. The course is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The university states that the class teaches a "standardized" methodology for inflicting spinal cord damage.

"These procedures are as unnecessary as they are cruel," says Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). "Current spinal injury research using human neural cell lines, impact studies on human cadavers, and clinical trials, make the OSU course not only pointless, but redundant."

OSU received a grant from the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to fund the spinal cord injury techniques course over five years. The next class is scheduled July 10-30, 2005. This will be the third year OSU has offered this course. University officials have so far refused to meet with PCRM and local humane organizations to discuss their concerns about the course.

PCRM filed suit in April in the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to force OSU to produce videotapes and other documents relating to the course. Throughout the campaign, PCRM has had very specific requests for OSU:

1. The course should be halted immediately. This would give PCRM physicians time to meet with OSU administrators and discuss alternative research strategies.

2. OSU must teach students how to implement non-animal research methods in the study of spinal cord injury. Neurologists and patients alike agree that more animal experiments are not the answer.

3.OSU must implement more transparent research procedures. The public has a right to view procedures that are being performed on rats and mice using federal grant money. PCRM is calling for a financial boycott of OSU until these conditions are met.

If you are an alumnus of Ohio State University, please officially sign your name to the boycott by contacting Kristie Stoick, campaign coordinator, at

Protect Our Earth's Treasures, a local animal rights group in Ohio, organized demonstrations during last year's course and plans are in the works for a repeat this year, beginning July 10th.

Contact POET at

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