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Group calls on OSU to end rat research course

A national physicians group is calling on Ohio State University alumni to boycott the university because it continues to teach a course on spinal cord injuries that uses mice and rats.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine or PCRM calls on Ohio State to cancel its Spinal Cord Injury Techniques Course which is funded by a National Institutes of Health grant.

PCRM says the course requires students to expose the spinal columns of mice and rates and drop weights on them in an attempt to imitate human spinal cord injuries.

The group has sued the university seeking videotapes and other documents relating to the course.

PCRM executive director and chief legal counsel Mindy Kursban is urging Ohio State alumni to boycott the university until this course is ended.

Ohio State officials, in a written statement, say the NIH has notified the university that it is satisfied with OSU's project.

Kursban says she is disappointed with the NIH position but not surprised by it.

Dr. Richard Sorgen is a bioethicist and an Arizona-based radiologist who believes killing or maiming animals for research is outdated and unnecessary.

And he says resistance to ending this type of research is related to funding and familiarity.

Mark Burwinkel of Cincinnati knows all too well about spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Burwinkel is a paraplegic, having been injured in a motorcycle accident. He agrees that animal research should be curtailed.

In a written response, Tom Rosol, senior associate vice president for research at OSU, says the reseacrhers' work, quote, "meets the exacting standards required by federal regulators as well as our own internal safeguards."

The PCRM disagrees and plans to continue its efforts to get the university to end its animal-based research. Kursban says more than one-hundred schools out of 126 have eliminated live animal labs, including Ohio State.

And she cited only one other school, The University of California at Irvine, that has a spinal cord injury course like Ohio State. She says, so far, her group has only taken legal action against OSU.