World-class scientists at UCLA utilize laboratory animals in research in an ongoing quest for knowledge that benefits society. This research has enhanced our understanding of how the human body functions and led to the development of lifesaving procedures and medicines — among them radiation therapy and other cancer treatments, open-heart surgery, fetal circulatory health treatments, organ transplantation, mental health treatments and vaccines. There is overwhelming agreement among physicians and scientists worldwide that laboratory animals provide irreplaceable and invaluable models for human systems.
Research involving laboratory animals at UCLA is heavily monitored and subject to stringent and multiple federal laws and university regulations. All requests to utilize animals in research undergo a rigorous review by an independent committee of well-informed scientists, veterinarians and members of the general public to ensure scientific necessity and humane treatment. That review requires an extensive search for alternatives to minimize the use of animals. UCLA is also subject to additional standards that go above and beyond regulatory requirements, as required of institutions accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science. UCLA has been continuously accredited by the AAALAC since 1976 and the University of California has mandated accreditation from all of its campuses since 1984.
Over the years, UCLA researchers and administrators have been subjected to an organized campaign of harassment intended to halt the use of all animals in research. This included the firebombing of a UCLA commuter van and a private vehicle, the placing of incendiary devices on the doorsteps of private residences and under vehicles, vandalism, and threatening phone calls and e-mails. UCLA police and the FBI investigated several of the incidents as acts of domestic terrorism.
In March 2010, one anti-animal research extremist pleaded guilty and another pleaded no contest to stalking and other felony charges in connection with the harassment of UCLA researchers. In May 2009, UCLA obtained a permanent injunction that prohibits the harassment of personnel involved in animal research, and the university is vigorously enforcing the court order. In December 2011, a federal judge upheld the constitutionality of a Los Angeles city ordinance that has been critical to UCLA's efforts to protect its researchers from anti–animal research extremists. In September 2008, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law legislation that provides essential new tools that enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute those responsible for harassment and other illegal activity.
In February 2012, three UCLA professors were recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their "strong defense of the importance of the use of animals in research and their refusal to remain silent in the face of intimidation" by anti–animal research extremists.
UCLA condemns in the strongest possible terms the deplorable tactics utilized by anti–animal research extremists. Violence and threats are not free speech. Read A Target of Violence in UCLA Magazine.
UCLA remains steadfast in its commitment to the legal use of laboratory animals in research for the benefit of society. Discontinuing all animal research would diminish hope for millions of people with AIDS, cancer, heart disease and other ailments.
Selected UCLA advances where animal research was a factor:
- Curry spice, omega-3 fatty acid preserve walking ability following spinal-cord injury
- Parkinson's disease stopped in animal model
- Paraplegic man stands, steps with assistance and moves his legs voluntarily
- Can traumatic memories be erased?
- Stress significantly accelerates breast cancer metastasis in mice, study shows for first time
- Researchers create tumor-fighting cells, watch them kill cancer
- Researchers use nanoparticles to shrink tumors in mice
- Ultrafine particles in air pollution may heighten allergic inflammation in asthma
- Researchers engineer metabolic pathway in mice to prevent diet-induced obesity
- Peptide linked to glucose metabolism and neuronal cell survival
- Eating less fat may prevent prostate cancer, study shows
- Gene therapy for retinal diseases advances with new viral and capsule mechanisms
- Scientists discover why Chinese frog Has ear canal
- UCLA scientists recreate 'Flowers for Algernon' with a happy ending
- UCLA study finds low-fat diet slows prostate cancer growth in lab models
- UCLA/VA researchers discover fat gene
- Moderate exercise and simple vitamin supplements significantly reduce risk of atherosclerosis