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Week of June 10, 2013

New website shows how animal research at U-M helps save lives

A broad array of advances in medicine, ranging from vaccines to organ transplantation, have relied critically on research and training involving animals, most of them bred specifically for use in the laboratory.

As one of the world’s top research and educational institutions, U-M has many research projects and training courses that can’t be done without animals.

Few patients and their families realize the importance of laboratory animals to development of the medicines they take or the medical procedures they undergo. Nor do they see the commitment required to maintain the health and well being of the animals, and to ensure that they are treated humanely, ethically, and in accordance with the law.

Now, a newly revamped website showcases this aspect of medical research and training, showing its impact, highlighting the resources available for animal use and care, and addressing key issues that have appeared in the media.

Created by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Health System Public Relations office, the site is designed for the general public as well as for the university community. It replaces an earlier site at the same address.

Some of the facts on the website about the use of animals in research and training at U-M include:

• 98 percent of all U-M laboratory animals are mice, rats, and various species of fish.

• More than 1,000 projects involving vertebrate animals, led by more than 500 faculty members, are underway at U-M — all under the supervision of the University Committee on Use and Care of Animals (UCUCA).

• The university practices the “three R’s,” aimed at reducing the number of animals used to the minimum necessary, replacing animals with other options whenever possible, and refining practices to ensure the most humane conditions possible.

• For more than 50 years, the Medical School’s Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine (ULAM) has been a national leader in caring for lab animals, and training new generations of lab animal professionals.

• Contrary to rumor, U-M never collects stray animals to be used in research. These and other issues are addressed on the “Hot Topics” section of the website.

• Research with laboratory animals has led to discoveries that prevent and treat diseases in pets as well as animals on farms and in the wild.

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