I was deeply troubled by the guest opinion article by Jan Weeks, entitled “Animal Welfare at UCD.” I am also a UCD alumna and I currently work in a research lab at the UC Davis Medical Center. My research on liver fibrosis requires animals be sacrificed frequently for experiments. While I understand that this notion can be upsetting to some, it is necessary for the advancement of science and the development of new medical treatments.
Researchers do not torture innocent animals as Weeks implied. Rather, the utmost care is taken to assure that we treat our animals humanely. There are several approval processes that must be completed before animals can be used, and this includes providing an outline of how the animals will be euthanized. Any plan for animal use in a laboratory is extensively reviewed by a committee dedicated to ensuring ethical research.
I am grateful for the gift of knowledge that the animals we use are giving us. Through the research we are able to conduct, human lives can be saved. I doubt that someone opposed to using animals for research would object to receiving life saving treatment due to the fact that animals were used in its development.
I would also like to point out that the vast majority of animal populations used in research labs are specifically bred for the purpose of research. It is terribly misguided to state that “no possible good” can come from research on animals and that research scientists “lack empathy” towards the animals they use. As someone who works in a lab I can honestly say that this is not true.
Despite taking every effort to ensure that animal research is carried out in a responsible manner, there remain some people who wish harm to those that conduct research on animals. Several researchers across the UC system have received threats of violence which has caused an increase in the security measures surrounding research facilities. With World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) this week I honestly hope that those who oppose using animals in research would think about what they are really protesting against.
Internal Medicine, UCDMC