Resource Central

Neurology Now
January/February 2010
Volume 6(1)
p 33
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Animals in Biomedical Research

In recognition of the need for the appropriate and humane use of animals in research, the American Academy of Neurology endorses and supports the appropriate and responsible use of animals as experimental subjects.

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Most scientists and philosophers take the ethical position that animal testing in the pursuit of medical progress is desirable, as long as animal suffering is minimized. However, a range of viewpoints exist—on the use of animals in research and on the notion of “animal rights.” For example, the (retired) philosopher Tom Regan asserts that animals have moral rights, though he also argues that to save human lives it is permissible to kill animals. Bernard Rollin, a professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University, asserts that any benefits to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering.

Scientists and governments state that animal testing should cause as little suffering to animals as possible, and that animal tests should only be performed where necessary. In many labs, the guiding principles for the use of animals in research are “The Three Rs”:

1. REPLACEMENT refers to the preferred use of non-animal methods over animal methods whenever it is possible to achieve the same scientific aim.

2. REDUCTION refers to methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.

3. REFINEMENT refers to methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals still used.

For Further Reading

▸ : You can read the AAN's position statement on the use of animals in neurological research, listen to a podcast about the topic, and find other resources here.

▸ Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, Regarding Animals. Temple University Press, 1996. Arluke is an anthropologist who researches the culture and ethics of animal use in biomedicine. For this book, he worked in clinics, shelters, and laboratories, cleaning cages, assisting in surgery, and participating in animal experiments.

▸ Russell W. M. S. and R. L. Burch. The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques. Methuen, 1958. This seminal book, by scientists William Russell and Rex Burch, first proposed the “The Three Rs.”

▸ Smith, Richard. “Animal Research: The Need for a Middle Ground.” British Medical Journal, February 3, 2001, pp. 248–249. Richard Smith, M.D., former editor of the British Medical Journal, argues in this article that polarized positions oversimplify current public discussion on the issue.

Assistance Directory

For a full listing of patient organizations, go


American Academy of Neurology Foundation 1-800-879-1960

AAN Website (For doctors and patients)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Well Spouse Association 1-800-838-0879


Alzheimer's Association 1-800-272-3900

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center 1-800-438-4380

Alzheimer's Foundation of America 1-866-232-8484

Association for Frontotemporal Dementias 1-866-507-7222


Autism Society of America 1-800-3AUTISM (1-800-328-8476)

Autism Speaks, Inc. 212-252-8584

Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership 1-888-474-7277


American Brain Tumor Association 1-800-886-2282

National Brain Tumor Society 1-800-934-2873


United Cerebral Palsy 1-800-872-5827


Dystonia Foundation 1-800-377-DYST (1-800-377-3978)

Spasmodic Torticollis 1-888-445-4588


Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) 312-255-1801

Epilepsy Foundation 1-800-332-1000


National Headache Foundation 1-888-NHF-5552 (1-888-643-5552)

Migraine Research Foundation 212-249-5402

Huntington's Disease

Hereditary Disease Foundation 212-928-2121

Huntington's Disease Society of America 1-800-345-HDSA (1-800-345-4372)


Hydrocephalus Association ; 1-888-598-3789

National Hydrocephalus Foundation 1-888-857-3434


MSFriends 1-877-MSFRIENDS


Multiple Sclerosis Association of America , 1-800-532-7667

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation 1-800-225-6495

National Multiple Sclerosis Society 1-800-FIGHT-MS (1-800-344-4867)


Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America 1-800-541-5454


ALS Association 1-800-782-4747

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association 610-499-9264 1-800-606-CMTA (2682)

Kennedy's Disease Association 559-658-5950

Moebius Syndrome Foundation 1-660-834-3406

Muscular Dystrophy Association 1-800-FIGHT-MD (1-800-344-4863)

Neuropathy Association ; 212-692-0662

Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, Inc. ; 1-877-773-4483


American Pain Foundation 1-888-615-PAIN (1-888-615-7246)

Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorders

American Parkinson Disease Association 1-800-223-2732

International Essential Tremor Foundation 1-888-387-3667

Lewy Body Dementia Association

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research ; 1-800-708-7644

National Ataxia Foundation 763-553-0020

National Parkinson Foundation 1-800-327-4545

Parkinson's Disease Foundation 1-800-457-6676

Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy 1-800-457-4777


National Sleep Foundation 202-347-3471


American Stroke Association 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653)

National Stroke Association 1-800-787-6537


Tourette Syndrome Association 718-224-2999


Brain Injury Association of America 1-800-444-6443

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